Or is goal setting a better phrase?
New Year’s Resolutions are old hat.
I have never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. Everybody falls off the boat by February at the latest and, if they’re really lucky, they make it to the second week of January before giving up. There is some magic to a new year, a fresh start, a clean slate, and so-on, but not if you don’t set up some practicality behind the magic.
This year, I am re-evaluating. I like goals better than resolutions. A goal is defined as “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result” where a resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” A goal is linked to ambition or effort. A resolution is merely a decision. A goal has an aim, a result, a plan. A resolution just involves “doing or not doing something,” which seems to me pretty vague and not helpful. New Year’s Resolutions are just exactly that.
Goals have action steps. Have you heard of the SMART goal concept? The acronym stands for:
Specific goals are not vague. Duh. But it means drilling down into what you actually want to accomplish. Like “eat better” is super vague. “Participating in a Whole30” is very specific.
Measurable goals can be tracked in some way. “Exercise more” isn’t helpful because…more than what? Zero? “Exercise at least 2 times per week” is measurable. You can mark it on your calendar, track it in an app, or write it in your bullet journal.
Attainable is a biggie. This is where New Year’s Resolutions fall flat every time. They are too big. No one ever (well, ok, maybe a few people) are going to go from not reading at all to reading 3 books a week. You have to set a goal for something that you can actually achieve. There is SO MUCH SCIENCE to back this one up.
Realistic sort of goes along with the last one, but gets more into the nitty gritty. If you want to go to bed by 9:30 every night, do you have kids and chores and house projects and and and and and….that make it impossible?
Time-bound means setting a deadline. Giving yourself a timeframe builds motivation. It also helps to break the goal down into smaller chunks and have incremental deadlines so you can celebrate the little successes along the way. Like if I wanted to ease back on my coffee consumption, I might set a goal of only 1 cup a day for a month from now, and each week until then reduce my habit by 1 cup (yes – I do actually drink that much coffee).
And on top of all that, it helps to talk about your goals with someone else. Have someone to check in with, keep you accountable, and on track. I’ve shared with my husband (see below) and I’m considering this as sharing too…I’ll have to update all of you on how these goals pan out!
What are my goals, you might be asking?
Well, this year, 2018, I did not set myself a lot of goals (attainable). However, the goals I did set are biggies. Dave and I sat down together and decided what we wanted this year to be, what we wanted to do, and who we wanted to be a year from now. Then I worked backward and set some goals to get me moving in the right direction. And this is another point, that you should have goals for multiple areas of your life. I thought about the domains of family, friends, physical health, mental health, spirituality, work, interests, and fun!
Here are mine:
- Interests. Blog at least 2 time per week. Not only have I found out that I actually really like blogging, it could potentially be a source of income for our family and alleviate some of the stresses around working and childcare. So this is a goal for the both of us. At least 2 times per week is not hard and it gives me the freedom to blog more (or bank more) if the inspiration strikes without being on a crazy strict production deadline. We only just decided on this goal last weekend, so with this post…check!
- Mental Health. Read fiction for at least 15 minutes every day. Fiction makes my introverted self happy. Having kids has driven the quiet moments of the day away, but I decided this is the year I intentionally bring them back. With this goal, so far, so good. And I’ve been able to carve out space for the kids to participate in this, whether it’s homeschool time, quiet reading time of their own, or crafting. And then I’m in a happy place and don’t mind cleaning up the mess so much.
- Fun! Have something “big” to look forward to every month of the year with my husband. This is important to us to help keep to doldrums away in the winter, to keep our marriage FUN, and also to build some excitement in daily life beyond just the daily grind. January sort of got missed because our “big” is on the border of February. But we’re going to take a weekend surprise getaway with Pack Up + Go that I’m SUPER stoked about. February we’re going to see Potted Potter (biiiiiiig Potter fans over here) and it just so happens to be my birthday month. March is a fabulous dinner party. We’ll add some more events to future months as we go. But so far, so good.
- Physical Health. Explore the best schedule and method for getting in better shape. My goal here is that by the end of January I will have nailed down a method and a schedule to work out that will fit with my otherwise crazy schedule. This could be as little as once a week, but I need to start somewhere (again, attainable & realistic).
- Work. I happen to also own a business, so I have some goals related to that for myself that I won’t share here, but they exist.
- Friends. Set up at least a monthly get together with a friend. My schedule has been filled for than usual with working/parenting/schooling in the past 6 months or so and this intentional time has slithered away. We got together with some good friends we hadn’t connect with in a while and it was life giving.
- Spirituality. This one goes along with a family goal. My goal for this year is to pray with my family every day and memorize a verse from the Bible with my kids each week.
Part of setting goals is to live with intention. Each day has a purpose and a meaning beyond just going through the motions. There is something in the future to strive towards, some little part of the goal you can meet, a portion of a checklist to check. Setting goals helps you stay focused, stay positive, see success, and generally see what’s going well in your life. I for sure need that, because it’s so easy to get sucked into dwelling on the negative.
The other beautiful thing about goals is that you can change them!! If one isn’t attainable or become unrealistic or you miss your deadline, change it! Make it more manageable! Make sure you’re experiencing success early on with your goals or they won’t last.