How to Develop SMART GOALS for the New Year

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1. Specific. Begin setting goals by getting specific. Nail down your desire to enable a clear picture in exact terms. A general goal may be, “I want to read more this year.” A specific goal would define “more” and the books on the “to read” list. Specific: “I will read one new book a month in this order…”

The more specific a goal, the greater the chance of it being reached. Think in general terms and receive general results. Think in specific terms and accomplish your imagination.

2. Measurable. In the book example above a measurement wouldn’t be hard to keep up with. Each month you measure what you accomplished by what you wanted to accomplish. If you read a book, the goal for the month became reality. If only half a book was read, your measurement shows that only half the goal was met.

Other goals are not as easy to measure, nor as tangible. Perhaps your goal is to lessen the stress in your life by relying on others to take some of the responsibility. The only measurement you have that your stress is reduced is by feel. Or if you went at this goal from a very specific angle your blood pressure may be the measurement for this goal.

3. Attainable. At my stature and age “to be an NBA all-star by the time I’m thirty-five” isn’t attainable. In place of that dream I may make a goal “to make twenty consecutive three pointers, so I can beat my partner at h.o.r.s.e.” The goal is reachable, but not without effort. Stretch yourself by setting challenging goals that are attainable.

4. Rewarding. Will you yawn at the end of the goal? What is the carrot at the end of the stick? A new physique? A great vocabulary? Bragging rights? On the day of goal completion what type of celebration have you planned?

When I received my college degree (mom was proud I crammed a four year degree program into eleven years), my salary did not increase, but my self esteem did. The reward associated with my degree, besides knowledge, is accomplishment. What will your reward be?

5. Timed. Set a time limit for your goal or you may end up in school for eleven years. Like #1 and #3, it needs to be specific and attainable. Suppose I decide “to lose forty pounds in a month.” That might be attainable, but it is definitely unhealthy. However, losing forty pounds in forty weeks can be reached in a healthy fashion. From that, I can mark out forty weeks on the calendar to meet the goal. One pound a week. Just 500 less calories a day. That’s only a candy bar and a half!

6. Godly. Is this goal something that will bring God glory? Will it help me do His will more effectively? Do I want this goal for selfish reasons? Measure your motives to make sure the goal you have in mind is fit for the kingdom. Do you have a goal to become a public speaker? Is that to honor God, or to honor yourself? Ask God to search your heart and reveal only goals that will help you remain humble and purposed for His work.

7. Outlined. Get a sheet of paper and write goal number one on the top line. List these terms down the left side leaving plenty of room to write between them: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding, Timed, and Godly.

Outline each goal you have by defining it in those terms. Write it as specific as possible. Be sure it is attainable though challenging. Record the reward of its accomplishment. Write down a specific date the goal will be completed. Pencil in the ways this goal will propel you toward God’s will.

8. Accountable. Don’t goal it alone. Select a friend to call you at least once a week to ask about the goal you are working toward. Be honest and confess how you fell apart, or how it is easier than you thought it would be. Give your goal accountability partner permission to be sneaky and check up on you when you don’t expect it.

9. Life changing. Select goals that will change you over the long haul of life. The secret of life-changing goals comes through a changed lifestyle, such as changed eating habits, or through a learned experience, such as reading twelve books in a year, or climbing a mountain. As your life drifts from the date the goal became reality continue to draw from the experience. Let your goal setting have a lasting impact on your way of living.

10. Self-disciplined. Once you make the decision to work toward a goal, stick with it until you accomplish it. Get mentally tough and don’t let up until the goal is met.

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