A book I once read talked about a vacation you can take in Florida. It’s called a Cruise To Nowhere. On this cruise, people get on a ship, leave the pier and travel in circles for several days. During this time they enjoy all the comforts of resort living, great food, lounging by a pool and shows. All the while they are going nowhere in particular. This may be a fun vacation but it’s a terrible way to live life. Yet that’s what many people do. They sorta cruise through life living and doing but not going anywhere in particular. A better way to live is to set and achieve SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that helps make the best goals possible.
Specific-Specific goals are always better than general goals. To make goals specific, they must explain exactly what is expected. So for example you wanted to focus on a destination for fitness or weight loss, be healthier is a general goal where lose weight is more specific. If you were going to focus on a financial destination, be financially secure is a general goal but lower my debt is a more specific goal. If you were going to focus on a spiritual destination, to know Jesus better would be a specific goal.
Measurable– The idea here is that if a goal is not measurable, it is not possible to know whether you are making progress toward successful completion. Measuring progress is supposed to help you stay on track and arrive at your desired destination. So for the specific goal of lose weight you might say lose 10lbs. For your financial goal of lowering your debt you might say, lower my debt by 50%. For your spiritual goal of knowing Jesus better you might say, pray at least 45 minutes a day.
Attainable-This stresses the importance of goals that are realistic and attainable. While an attainable goal should stretch you in order to achieve it, the goal is not extreme. The goal should be challenging but attainable. In the end, unattainable goals will discourage you and keep you from achieving your goals. So if you haven’t ran in 10 years, you wouldn’t want to set a physical goal of running a marathon by February. Most of us wouldn’t want to set a financial goal of saving a million dollars by the end of the year. If you’ve never fasted, you wouldn’t want to set a spiritual goal of doing a 30 day absolute fast in February. The goal should challenge you while still being something you can actually accomplish.
Relevant– This stresses the importance of choosing goals that matter. A goal to “Make 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by 2:00pm.” may be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Time-Bound, but lacks Relevance. It’s not important. It’s not a goal that matters. Goals should be things that contain significance for us. It should be something that matters. It doesn’t have to matter to me, but it must matter to you.
Time-Bound-This stresses the importance of grounding goals within a time frame, giving them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps us focus our efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency. Keep in mind that the bigger the goal, the more time is needed. The goal must be achievable. So a physical goal might be to lose 10lbs by Spring Break. A financial goal might be to lower my debt by 50% by the end of the year. A spiritual goal to know Jesus better might be pray at least 45 minutes a day 5 days a week. While that isn’t an accomplishment date, it is still time bound. Therefore you can evaluate how you are doing on this goal on a week by week basis.
It is easy to live life on a cruise to nowhere but that is a terribly unfulfilling life. Choose today to set and achieve SMART goals.