I can’t believe it is February already! Typical conversations are primarily divided between two camps: Black History Month and New Year resolutions. My existence and all that I am working towards achieving are testaments to the excellence existing in Black culture. Further, it is proof that Black history cannot be contained to just one 28-day period. Instead, I’d rather focus on these goals y’all have set.
Because setting goals is linked to sparking new behaviors, it makes sense that some of you do it at the launch of the new year. When I’m ready to change or modify some of my actions, you can hear my family saying it with me; I’ll start on Monday”. So, I’m here for using the beginning of a year, month, or week to jumpstart your focus and give you the momentum to move forward with life-altering things!
Remember, I admitted to being an English major in my intro post. This means that words are important to me. Even more significant than word choice is comprehension and ensuring that we’re talking about the same thing. Therefore, a goal is a result or achievement toward which effort is directed. Basically, it is your target, your purpose, an objective, intent…it is the finish line! And, because you are reading this blog, I already believe that you’re brilliant so, I want to teach you how to make SMART goals.
SMART does not mean clever. It is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. When you set SMART goals, you can simplify your ideas and manage your time better, enhancing your chances to reach your goals. I will use weight loss as my primary example for explaining these five goal-setting principles.
Tacia’s goal is to lose weight. That’s simple enough, and some might even think it does not require any clarification. However, you have to ask, is it really specific? Does Tacia truly recognize what she is trying to do? While it’s understandable, it is not specific. A specific goal would be to lose a certain amount of pounds in a certain amount of time. For instance, I want to lose 50lbs by April (my birthday).
Your goal is measurable when you can track that it has been met or that there is progress. For Tacia, this would resemble a weekly weigh-in and documenting when, or if, two or more pounds are lost. Ensuring that your goals are measurable helps you decide if more or less effort is needed to be successful, demonstrating that goals can be modified and altered based on new information.
The third letter stands for attainable. You never want to set a goal that is unrealistic or outside of your existing skills and abilities. For instance, attempting to lose 50lbs within two months is a horrible amount of pressure to put on oneself without the aid of surgery. It is why, to me, attainable is the most important aspect of goal setting. When people set unrealistic goals and are unable to achieve them, this could lead to symptoms of depression. Do NOT set yourself up for failure by setting an unattainable goal. As such, Tacia’s modified goal is to lose 15lbs by her birthday.
Relevant means that the goal is significant and important enough for you to work towards it. If Tacia is at her ideal weight, losing 50lbs is not meaningful. However, she should understand why losing this amount of weight is important to her as it will provide motivation for her efforts.
A timely goal is essential as it creates a sense of urgency for the goal setter. Tacia knows that she should be consistent in her efforts to remain accountable. Without a deadline, it is easy to forgo the necessary effort to be successful. A time limit is the accountability piece that keeps people focused and prevents wasted time on distracting or unprofitable behaviors.
When you are ready to create your next set of goals or modify existing ones, remember to make them SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely)! I always have your best interests at heart. I offer that knowing that you might be concerned as to why I am only now offering this information, especially since national statistics state that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February—and it’s February. The reality is that maybe those goals didn’t pan out. Or maybe, you’re still working towards achieving them. Regardless, this blog is a reminder that you can set goals at any time! There should not be any pressure on initiating them at the start of the year, but I hope this post encourages you to make them SMART whenever you start them.