Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

Goal Setting (Part 2)

         Last fall I was reminded of the power of goal setting. From January to August of 2008 my exercise routine had been sporadic and ineffective. My lack of exercise began to affect every area of my life. My primary form of exercise consists of walking, running, or biking a number of miles each time out.

            By the end of August 2008 I had gone only a total of 144 miles. At the start of September 2008 I set a goal to get to a total of 400 miles by the end of the year. Based on my performance for the first 8 months, this looked like an ambitious goal indeed. I had only gone 144 miles in the previous 8 months, now I was attempting to reach a goal of 256 miles in the next 4 months.

            So I started toward this goal, one mile at a time.

            But something about having a set goal motivated me to ride my bike regardless of how busy my schedule was, or what the weather was like. As the days grew shorter and the weather cooler, I began to close in on my goal. I reached the 400 mile marker by the end of November, and set a second goal to reach 500 miles by the end of the year. I made that goal as well, finishing out the year with 525 miles. My original goal was to ride 256 miles from September to December. Instead I rode 381 miles.

            I owe it to the power of goal setting.

            The goal before me kept me motivated and focused. When I felt like I didn’t have time in my schedule or I was too tired, I kept coming back to the goal.

            I learned that success in goal setting is to make S.M.A.R.T. goals—goals that are

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely

            Specific means that I ask the simple question, “What do I want to accomplish?” Example: To increase my level of physical exercise from September to December 2008.      

            Measurable means I set concrete criteria so I would know my target and when I had reached it. Example: To ride 381 miles from September to December 2008 for a total of 400 miles.

            Attainable means I ask myself, “What steps do I need to take to reach this goal?” Example: Average 25 miles per week from September to December.

            Realistic means a goal that I am both willing and able to work toward. A goal too big is de-motivating. A goal too small does not create enthusiasm. Example: I knew that while I would prefer to reach a goal of 1,200 miles per year, I could not attain that in only the last 4 months of 2008 (especially starting at 144 miles through August!). I set a realistic goal of 400 miles.

            Timely means I have a time frame for which to reach this goal. Example: By December 31, 2008.

            This became one of the best sources of motivation for me. Every day the calendar removed one more chance to reach my goal. I had to make the most of every opportunity I had because the days were few.

            As I closed in on my exercise goal, I began to set goals for other areas of my life: personal, spiritual, family, work. As the hectic holiday season approached, I was able to manage it better than usual, because I had daily goals, weekly goals, and monthly goals.

            Now I start 2009 off with a new set of goals.

            How about you?

            What S.M.A.R.T. goals do you have for the new year?

            The Bible tells us to “commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3).

            What’s your plan for 2009?

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