By: Martianne Stanger
~Zig Ziglar or Abraham Lincoln (depending on where you look)
If Kristen inspired you to jump on the bandwagon with her recent New Year’s resolutions post, I am here to encourage you to stay on it by tweaking at least one of your current goals to make it S.M.A.R.T.
Why? Because we moms (dads, grandparents, friends and others) don’t need to end the first month of 2012 discouraged. Instead, I propose that we start a snowball effect for the year – that we pat together handful of achievement that will attract further success as the months roll by.
Are you ready?
Simply choose one of the commitments that you made to yourself (your children, you home, your spouse, or your work) a couple weeks ago and tweak it by thinking about the following five questions.
1. Is my goal Small and Smile-Inducing?
Yes, I said “small and smile-inducing,” not “specific.” So, all of you who are familiar with the more common S.M.A.R.T. goal acronym, please bear with me. I am not suggesting that a Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely goal is an ineffective model. In fact, I am a big believer in this tried-and-true approach.
What I am saying is that sometimes goals take a lot of hard work and, well, if you are anything like me, you may not be up for that much effort right now. The exhausting transition from holidays to every days may have just dampened a bit too much of the New Year’s “can do” spirit. Ingrained habits and busy schedules tend to work against even the best of intentions.
My solution to this resolution dilemma? Give yourself a goal that is not too difficult to attain and one that will bring a regular sense of satisfaction. Maybe distill a larger goal down to a bite-sized morsel that you can savor as an independent achievement. For example, instead of “improve the family’s diet,” how about “enjoy fresh raspberries with the children several times a week for an entire month?”
It’s not too difficult to toss a few pints of antioxidant-packed raspberries into a shopping cart. Plus, every delightful bite of the fruit can elicit smiles – a sense of summertime succulence even in the height of winter chill.
2. Is it Meaningful?
No discussion about goal-setting would be complete without a mention of how many people fail to follow through with their resolutions. But, let’s not let this cliché negativity get the best of us. Instead, let’s think about all those who fail to meet their goals, consider why you want to meet your goal?
Is your goal something you feel committed to? Does it spring from a family mission statement? Is it a part of a long-time dream that you are committed to making a reality? Is it rooted to your values? Your core beliefs? The child within you? A role you are invested in embodying now? Whatever your goal is, it should be meaningful.
I know for me having purpose-driven goals is vital. And, just because an aim is small and smile-inducing doesn’t mean it cannot be without purpose. Take the raspberry thing. It might seem random, but it’s not.
My husband and I seek to teach our children healthy habits that will last a lifetime – a very long lifetime. In our opinion, choosing fresh, whole foods to snack on over processed, nutritionally-depleted ones aligns to that mission. Plus, we value independence, and raspberries are a food that even our youngest – at 18 months – can eat by himself. Hence, a seemingly arbitrary goal is anything but. It may be simple, but it is also rich in personal meaning.
3. Is it Adaptable?
If there is one thing life as Mom and Wife has taught me over and over again, it is that flexibility is key. For there is something about the combination of marriage, home and children, which consistently proves the many ways even best-laid plans can go awry.
Being a mom (or dad) requires one to adjust ideas of “now” and “how.” Family members have a way of creating unexpected urgencies that can hamper persona; intentions for a given moment. Differing modes of communication and learning can demand modified approaches to tasks. So, unless you are willing to adjust, it is far too easy to get waylaid in your quest towards a goal.
Unless, of course, the goal is adaptable. No fresh raspberries on sale and your spouse is committed to lowering the weekly food budget? Pick another fresh fruit or try frozen berries. Kindergartner suddenly goes on a fresh berry strike? Try a smoothie. Toddler drops a new pint of berries on a not-so-clean floor? Salvage what you can, rinse them well and make sauce.
Don’t get so stuck in the specifics of a goal that you lose its intent.
4. Is it Recordable?
Not every individual is a visual learner, but I dare say most can benefit from charts, checklists and other strategies for marking progress toward a goal. Such record-keeping tools offer accountability, motivation and, best of all, concrete evidence of success! There’s just nothing like that sense of completion when the final step is marked off and a goal is completed!
So, ask yourself, how can you document your efforts towards reaching your goal?
With the raspberry example, maybe by a simple check sheet on the fridge would do the trick? A sticker chart? Building a tower of empty raspberry containers as high as your kitchen table by the end of the month?
The way you record your success is not that important. It is the ability to track your achievement that counts.
5. Is it Tangible?
There’s nothing like something you can hold in your hands – literally!
With this in mind, I find that a first goal of the year is often most effective when it is made touchable. Improving the family diet is hardly as tactile as eating raspberries is. Likewise, de-cluttering your home is not as concrete as ridding it of x amount of bags of stuff. And, the concept of losing weight is not as tangible as that of buttoning your favorite jeans up again without having to do a huge suck-in.
Whatever goal you select to start your snowball of success this year, I encourage you to make it something you can literally wrap your hands around – something Simple and Smile-Inducing, Meaningful, Adaptable, Recordable and Tangible.
I’d love to hear about your S.M.A.R.T Goal success by this month’s end!