Counting Down to the New Year is a series of 12 posts in which I reflect on 2014 and prepare for 2015.
I’m setting goals a little early this year, but hopefully it will help you learn from my method to set your own. In college, I took a leadership class that taught goal-setting using the acronym SMART, and for some reason this is one of the few skills I learned in college that I still use and remember. There must be a reason I have kept it around all these years – I think it must make sense to the analytical portion of my mind. I am sure many of you have heard of this strategy before, but if you haven’t used it yet, give it a try.
S stands for Specific: Specific goals are clearly defined, straight to the point, and avoid any level of ambiguity or vagueness. The rest of the acronym will give you tools to help you be specific. But in general you want to avoid making vague goals such as “read more” and make specific goals such as “read 1 new book every week.”
M stands for Measurable: Measurable goals can be assessed to know whether you achieved them or not. Stating that one of my goals for 2015 is to “be happier” would not be measurable. I could say I want to do 2 things each day to work towards feeling happier, and that would be measurable.
A stands for Attainable: You should be able to complete the goals that you set for yourself. This means, I will not be setting any goals such as “improve my health by 25%” or “be able to walk 20 minutes by the end of the year.” There is no way of knowing if I will be able to achieve those goals due to the unpredictable nature my health.
R stands for Relevant: This means the goal fits into your life and is relevant to you. Goals that are relevant to me will focus on my health, my writing, my work, and areas of recreation and socializing.
T stands for Timely: You clearly state the timeframe you plan to work within to achieve your goals.
My goals will fit into the four different categories that are relevant to me: health, writing, work, recreation and socializing, and I will make two goals for each category. I picked these four categories because they are areas of my life that I struggle in or want to see improvement.
But in the end, my main goal is to come out of 2015 a healthier person, physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually. By keeping it to two goals for each category, it forces me to focus on the things that are most important. For example, I could probably set 20 goals just for my health, but in the end that would probably not be attainable. Keeping the number of goals reasonable helps better ensure I will keep up with my goals over the year and not forget about them.
I will also note that I am not sharing all of my goals publically – other more personal goals I am keeping to myself. So, as you write your own goals think through every area of your life, even areas that you might not share with others.
Research and complete three new treatment options/possibilities at some point during the year 2015. These could include but are not limited to: (1) new supplements (2) getting a second opinion from another doctor (3) new medications (4) new physical therapy strategies (5) different types of exercise that I have not tried before (6) orthopedic procedures such as shots.
(Reason: My primary care physician, who is extremely competent and who I trust, recommended that I need to start “shopping around” and trying things until they work for me. It can be easy for me to sit back and try one treatment strategy for too long even when it is not working. This goal will help keep me moving by trying new things, but not too many new things.)
Write out an exercise plan, schedule, and tracking worksheet during the month of January. Complete all exercises based on plan 5 days a week. Update the worksheet each month based on progress/regression to include what exercises I am capable of completing.
(Reason: Exercise needs to become a top priority. I can always do something that equals exercise, even if it doesn’t come close to what I would have considered exercise in my previous life.)
Read 6 counseling books over the course of 2015, which will average out to 1 counseling book every 2 months. In January, write out a list of books I want to read and pick from that list.
(Reason: I want to stay up-to-date on my counseling abilities, but I also need to be reasonable about how much reading I can do. Making the list will help me prioritize which books are most important to read.)
Research and try 3 possible avenues for new online work. Try to find work that is (1) flexible in how many hours are worked each week (2) enjoyable for me to do (3) and pays according to my skill and education level.
(Reason: I need to stay productive. I have found online work, but I have never found online work that fits all three of the categories listed above.)
Recreation & Socializing Goals
Initiate and participate in one social activity per month with a friend or friends. If I have a month where I am too sick to participate in a social activity, I will double up on the months that I feel better.
(Reason: Sometimes I turn into a hermit. I go through seasons where I am just tired of the pain and even though I probably could go out, I don’t feel like paying for it afterwards, so I choose to isolate. To some extent I think this is ok, but at some point I start feeling a little crazy. Even if it means inviting people over to my place for a chat, I need to stay connected with people to some extent.)
Cook one meal per month for enjoyment over necessity.
(Reason: I love to cook, but I don’t cook because I love it anymore. I cook because we have to eat. If I am really careful and specific in planning this out, I think I can manage one meal per month that is delicious and enjoyable to make.)
Write and post two blog articles per week.
(Reason: So far I have kept up with my blog, and I want to continue forward with that. My blog has gone in so many directions since I first started – the posts are variable, of different styles, and somewhat eclectic. I want to refocus, figure out where I am going with my blogging, and move forward from there with at least 2 posts per week).
Finish a rough draft of my book by the end of 2015, which will include writing the entire 12 chapter I have mapped out, about 60,000 words.
(Reason: Whether or not my book ever gets published or read by anyone, I really want to complete it. A year to finish the rough draft is reasonable because I sometimes go weeks where I am unable to work on it at all, and then finish large portions in spurts. A year to finish will give me the goal of focusing on writing about 5,000 words per month, which is extremely doable and not overwhelming at all.)