Achieve Your Dreams with Smart-y Goals

It's Time to Set Your Goals for an AMAZING Year-Make them Meaningful

By Jessica Parsons--Macaroni Kid-Calvert-St. Mary's Publisher January 6, 2023

A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Every January 1, well actually in the month leading up to the turning of the year, millions of people sit down and create ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. Some of the most popular include:

“I’m going to lose weight this year”.

“I’m going to get out of debt.”

“I’m going to save money.”

“I’m going to get a new job.”

“I’m going to be more organized.”

You can pretty much fill in the blanks with any possible life change you can think of. 

There is nothing inherently wrong with making resolutions; in fact, having dreams bigger than where we are is a GOOD thing. After all, if we aren’t growing, we are dying, right? (Or so I've been told!)

Why then do so many New Year’s Resolutions fail? (Really, why do so many people give up on their resolutions within just a few short weeks of the new year beginning?)

The reason lies in the difference between a GOAL and a WISH. And resolutions typically fall squarely in the WISH category. 

Look at it like this. A wish is stating something and then blowing it out into the universe, much like we did wishing on flowers as kids. We put it out there and pretty much expect it to just fall into our laps. As much as I would like it to be this way, real life doesn’t often follow this pattern. 

In the real world, we often must make a plan and work for what we desire in our lives.

So…what is a SMART-Y goal?

By this point in the 21st century, many of us have heard the term SMART goals thrown around quite a bit. But what exactly does that mean? And why the extra letter the end? Am I just trying to be a “smarty pants”? 😊

SMART is an acronym for a very measured--and proven effective—way to set goals in our lives. Goals that we actually have a fighting chance of attaining. Each letter stands for a specific attribute of a goal that studies have shown makes them more likely to be accomplished. (Notice I didn’t say “guaranteed to come true”—we are all adults here, and we all know that life does not offer up any guarantees.) However, with a strong enough reason, a true roadmap to the goal, and the willingness to work at it and do whatever it takes—you can hardly fail if you follow this formula.

S- Specific. The first step is to make your goal specific. Instead of I will lose weight this year, state the number of pounds you will lose. When we do this, I will lose weight becomes I will lose twenty pounds this year. 

M- Measurable. The second requirement is that it be measurable. "I will lose twenty pounds" leaves a lot of wiggle room. If you don’t set a deadline for when you will achieve your goal, you really have no target to shoot for. You can give yourself free rein to continue with the same habits that have led you to be a weight you are uncomfortable with; justifying it with “I’ll start tomorrow” (in this case, tomorrow almost always never comes). So now I will lose twenty pounds by June 5, 2023 is our new specific and measurable goal. 

A- Next, our goal needs to be attainable. Now this doesn’t mean because you haven’t done something, I'm saying it isn’t attainable for you. Goals should stretch you and make you grow in the pursuit of them alone. You don’t want to set yourself a goal that is easy to attain and guaranteed. But you also don’t want to be that little child wishing for that pie in the sky dream, like I am going to be a princess by June—knowing full well there is no royalty in your bloodline, and you aren’t likely to meet and marry a prince in the next six months holed up in your house in Leonardtown. So make them challenging, something that you will grow in the pursuit of...but not ridiculous either. 

R- Realistic, which is much like attainable, with caveats. For example, it is absolutely attainable for you to lose one hundred pounds if you work hard at it. However, it is not very realistic that you will lose one hundred pounds by your cousin’s wedding in March—2 months away. So, make your goals realistic as well.

T- Timebound. We touched on this above, but it can’t be said enough--give your goals a deadline. If you don’t follow this parameter, you leave yourself open to failure. It is all too easy to slip into the “someday”/”one day”/”soon” zone where dreams go to die. In this place you don’t feel any sense of urgency and you have not set a definite goal, you will just let yourself drift until your goal slips into oblivion, becoming just like last year’s hairstyle trend. You are in the “eh, it would be nice if..” place and--let's be honest--not many great changes happen in this space. So, put a fire under your behind and set a deadline.

Y- The final requirement—and one that is SO important—is your whY. (I cannot take credit for this addition, but I sadly cannot remember where I first learned this crucial step that had been missing from my goal setting for so long!) This step is arguably one of the most important. Without a strong why, you are likely to give up at the first sign of stormy weather. Rather than seeing obstacles as just challenges to be overcome and a chance for further growth, they will become mountains and signs that the Universe does not want you to keep striving to attain this dream of yours. NOOOOO!!!! Life gives us ample opportunities to stay in the comfort zone—DON’T TAKE THEM. You were given your dreams for a reason, now go out and grab them!

There you have it. A primer on setting SMART-Y goals for your life. 

Remember that you have only one life to live. It is your responsibility to live it to the fullest every single day. We are not promised tomorrow, so we need to stop putting off our dreams for that nebulous “someday” and start living as if we really mean it. 

If not now, then when? Regret for actions NOT taken are the worst kind of regrets of all. Trust me parents, the best gift you can give your kids is a role model who strives and grows every day. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! May 2023 bring nothing but abundant blessings!