Do our goals always have to be S.M.A.R.T.?

Hello & Happy June!

Before I even put my blog out there, I knew that June was going to be a month to talk about goal setting. Why? Because at the end of June is one of my favorite times of the year… my Quarterly Personal Retreat day!! My Quarterly Personal Retreat day is an entire day set aside  to reflect on the past 90 days and a chance to set goals for the next 90 days. We’ll dive more in depth on what that really means in the upcoming weeks but first I thought we’d talk more about the two most powerful types of goals you can set for yourself…

SMART goals. Whether you’ve heard the acronym or not, we all have probably learned along the way that the goals we set should be (S)pecific, (M)easurable, (A)ttainable, (R)elevant, (T)imely For example, one of my 90 day goals was “I will listen to an Eagle Brook Church online sermon once a week during my commute so that I can continue to learn about my faith and at the end of the 90 days determine if I am ready to start attending church again”. You know exactly what I am going to do (listen to sermons), how often I will do it (once a week), how I will get it done (secured time during my commute), it’s relevant because it holds meaning for me and it’s timely because it’s a goal to work on during a 90 day timeframe. This is a really strong goal - but they don’t always start out like this. 

Here’s how my goals used to sound:

“I should work out more”

“I should eat healthier”

“I want to wake up earlier”

“I want to take on a bigger role at work”

“I should spend more time with friends/family”

These are super vague goals that always left me feeling unsatisfied and really disappointed in myself. When I would work out a few times and then give up, I’d feel like I let myself down. When I’d set a “goal” to wake up earlier, I’d have about a 4 day streak and then lay in bed on the 5th day thinking of all the reasons why I was too tired and why I needed to hit snooze that morning.

What I realized was missing was a few different things:

  1. Clearly the acronyms of true SMART goals

  2. The root cause or real reason “why” I wanted to do something

  3. A voice in my head stronger than the one telling me I couldn’t do something.

I learned that if I didn’t get #2 and #3 in control, I’d never successfully get to writing and working on strong SMART goals for myself. So, I invented something I like to call “Mindful Goals”.

Mindful Goals are themes or ideas that you set for yourself that leave room for you to push yourself but still allow for self-forgiveness. Mindful Goals encourage you to fail fast and rebound even faster. Mindful Goals are vague like the examples above, but the SMART-esque nature of these goals comes in three ways: 1) it’s important because you’ve been thinking about it and clearly it means something to you and 2) you agree to keep it front of mind for a set period of time and 3) you set aside time to reflect on what you learn.

Mindful Goals for me really started out as New Year’s Resolutions back in 2014. My main “goal” for 2014 was just focusing on me: Here’s how I wrote it out in my journal:

“I decided to make 2014 all about me. I just want to get into the habit of doing what I want when I want to because it makes me happy. I am tired of doing things just because without asking myself if that’s making me happy or not.”

There weren’t any real clear deliverables on how this was going to be accomplished but I had two parameters: be more mindful about myself and what I really want, and do that for a year’s time.

I’ve repeated this in 2015 and 2016. What I’ve learned over time, though, is how to condense Mindful Goals into a smaller period of time. This makes them easier to “try on” and easier to reflect upon. They allow for more space to really define the “why” behind “I want to work out more” or “I want to make more money”. Sometimes what we want to strive for on the surface is not really what our heart is longing for. I find that it is often societal pressures that stop us from venturing beneath the surface to find out how to set a goal that will change your life!

I’ve created a *free* e-guide called "How to Set Mindful Goals". If you’d like a copy to learn how to get started on setting your own Mindful Goals, fill in the contact form below and I’ll send a copy your way!

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Have a great week!