Edit: I’ve reposted this blog post here at the new location, but wrote it at the beginning of 2016. It’s still something I keep in mind as we head into the last quarter of the year!
It’s the last week of the year. The Christmas decorations are still up, and the house feels cozy and full of life with the children home from school. While they play or sleep, I’ve been taking time to reflect on what worked well and what didn’t this past twelve months, and making plans for the year ahead. It’s one of my most favorite times- a quiet week after what is for me the busiest time of the year. It’s not so much about setting a list of impossible to achieve resolutions, or believing that the year ahead will magically hold only good things, but more about drawing a line in the sand and letting go of all the things that didn’t work so well or caused me pain in the past year, and making room for new possibilities.
2015 was a good year- so many sunny breezy days, lots of in-the-moment times with kids, friends, and my husband, travel to Chicago, Denver, and Mexico, fun home renovations, some significant work successes; but it came with plenty of challenges too. I had some health issues to contend with. I lost my dog of 15 years and my grandfather. There were a few times I felt like I was just scraping by emotionally. I know 2016 will hold surprises too, hopefully many good ones, but when thinking about what I want to accomplish I try to think about things that are within my abilities to improve. And there are many!
For example, I’d like to have more consistent routines around childcare, housework, and work. I tend to do things as I feel like doing them, which doesn’t always lead to the results I’d like to have. I tend to prioritize childcare and exercise, which is not a bad thing at all, but I know my remaining time could be managed more efficiently.
I have huge desires around what I’d like to accomplish creatively. I want this year to be the year I begin a regular blogging practice because I really miss writing. I have big ideas for things I want to make and painting experiments to try- aforementioned routines should help me get more of them out of my head and onto paper and canvas. I want to expand my card and print line tremendously and grow the wholesale side of my business.
I’ve got a list of little goals too: things like eat less sugar, stick to my budget more often than not, ditch multitasking, and work on my meditation practice are on there.
I’ve found from previous experience that just writing goals down in a journal, not even necessarily for everyone to read, is helpful. I’m often surprised to look at an old list and see how much I’ve actually achieved during that year.
But…did you know there’s a little more to effective goal setting than just writing down what you want to do? If you haven’t yet tried it, SMART goal setting might be something you’d like to try for yourself this year. I’m going to. SMART is an acronym that stands for:
specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-oriented.
Your goals simply need to meet those criteria and you’re well on your way to achieving them.
Let’s look at one of my goals as an example- I’ve said I want to “blog regularly”. That sounds alright to me, but what does that actually mean? For my goal to be a SMART goal, I need to think about it a bit differently.
My goal is a bit too vague. If I change “blog regularly” to “publish blog every Tuesday and Sunday at 3 am”, then it’s specific.
I need to know if I am meeting the standards I set for myself. If I say, “I’m going to blog twice a week, and create an editorial calendar for myself to keep my routine”, then I can see whether I’m doing what I need to do.
Can I actually achieve this goal? Am I able to write 2 blog posts a week? Or write a month’s worth of posts at a time so that I can achieve my goal of twice-weekly posts?
Is my blogging goal realistic? With the time that I have available to me, is going from two blog posts a year to twice a week a realistic goal? Perhaps I am being a little too ambitious, and need to adjust my target to once weekly or even twice a month to begin.
Goals need to have a specific time or date attached to their completion. Otherwise the projects tend to linger on. In the case of my blogging example, I might decide that the first of the year will be the date of my next post, that I will spend Friday afternoons working on my posts, and that they will get published every Sunday morning.
As you can see, SMART goal setting allows you to take your visions for the future and break them down into doable steps so it’s more likely that you will reach your goals. It’s a fairly simple process that allows you to quickly determine whether your goal is taking you on the right track or not, and to take your goal-setting to the next level.
If this advice resonates with you, take it or tweak it to work for you. There isn’t anything inherently special about setting goals at this time of year- I’ve already begun working on some of those I shared here. I also think it’s helpful to use this as part of a holistic approach to your desires and not expect yourself to turn into a goal oriented robot (something I know I will never be). Baby steps, and working from a place of loving-kindness toward your humanness is always a good place to begin. I wish you blessings & happiness in the new year, however you decide to plan and reflect this season!
If you are setting some intentions, what are you hoping to do in 2016? Have you used the SMART goal-setting method before? Do you have any other tips for reaching goals you’d like to share? I’d love to hear!