Here we are - the first week of 2019! Did you make any New Year's Resolutions?
People are usually pretty optimistic about what they want to accomplish in a year, but they struggle with following through as time goes on (totally guilty!). The problem is that we often make broad, vague goals so that if we don't follow through, we can save face. Failing to achieve our resolutions doesn't really feel like failure when we can just write them off as unrealistic and unattainable down the road.
So this year, rather than making vague resolutions to "eat healthier" or "read more," let's resolve to write SMART Goals - a strategy created by George T. Doran that is still used in businesses, schools, and personal journaling around the world.
I first learned about SMART Goals in my teaching. When I asked my students to write a goal for improvement, many would turn in vague or unrealistic goals. It's not that they didn't care about what I was asking them to do - they simply didn't know how to make a realistic goal and plan the steps to achieve it. So after doing a little research, I discovered SMART Goal Journaling as a strategy to set and plan future goals.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Let's break that down.
- Specific: Be clear on what you want to accomplish.
- Measurable: Plan the steps needed to accomplish your goal.
- Attainable: Is your goal realistic?
- Relevant: Does your goal make sense in the context of your life?
- Time-Bound: Set a time-limit for when you want to accomplish your goal.
For effective goal-setting, I break down my goal across each category by drawing and filling out a table. Then with the information in the table, I write that goal as a sentence. This goal can be a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly goal. (Okay, that really sounded like the Friends theme song.)
And because I love you all, I'm sharing my printable SMART Goal Journal template so that you can create, plan, and accomplish your goals all year long.
Here's an example. Rather than resolving to "read more," you could try this SMART Goal instead:
"In 2019, my goal is to read 3 books on personal growth and 3 fictional books for leisure. I will dedicate 30 minutes before bed to reading."
Notice that this goal is specific by determining the number of books to be read, measured by reading 30 minutes a night, attainable in a year, relevant to my lifestyle, and time-bound by one year.
After just a semester of weekly SMART Goal journaling, my middle school choir students noted that writing their goals kept them more accountable to practice their singing at home and ultimately contributed to more successful performances later on in the year. And when you can get a group of 13-year-olds to admit that an assignment was actually helpful, that's a big win!
I know that SMART Goal journaling can be just as effective for you, whether your goals seem too lofty or too small to matter. If you've struggled in the past to keep your resolutions, I encourage you to try SMART Goal journaling for more effective, sustainable goal-setting. Now get out there and CRUSH your goals!