I am not a fan of new year resolutions for a number of reasons… Many better writers and smarter people have written about it, such as my friend Bryan at Elevation Life and his post here. I have decided this year to go with goals. Christian blogger and speaker (is he considered a comedian yet?) Jon Acuff has a great approach that I am going with this year. It is called Finish Year, and you can read about it here.
Long story short, finish year, or new years goals or whatever you want to call it only succeed if you are dedicated to it. If you are not dedicated to it, what is the point of even putting it out there? 2011 for me was a good year. One of the best things about 2011 was receiving ministry coaching. Ministry coaching is about becoming a better follower of Christ, minister and all around person. To achieve any of these things, you must have goals. As I set goals, I was always challenged to make them S.M.A.R.T. goals with specific action plans.
What is a S.M.A.R.T. goal? I’m glad you asked. Take a look at 2 goals: 1) learn to play the guitar and 2) learn to play the guitar and play in the worship band at church by the end of the year.
Specific: Both of these goals are specific, but the second one is much more so. It states a general goal, intention of the goal, and gives an end date.
Measurable: If you goal is not measurable, how do you know when you have accomplished it? How do you when you have successfully “learned to play the guitar?” The second goal is measured by your ability to play in a band, in front of people.
Attainable: This one is tricky. To know if a goal is attainable, you have to be in tune with your gifts, talents, abilities, and drive to accomplish things. Neither of these goals would be good for me. I do not have a musical bone in my body, nor do I really want to make music. I sing in church along with everyone else, but have no desire to lead in worship or perform music in any other capacity.
Realistic: There is a fine balance to making a goal realistic. Most of the time you are dealing the question of completing the goal in the amount of time given. In the example goals, if you are starting in January it is probably realistic to think you can learn the guitar well enough to play with a band in nearly a year. However, if you are starting in September, you might want to reconsider your timeline. If you set your goal too far out, you may not get around to starting it, or it won’t challenge/motivate you. If it is too difficult, you may not finish because you get frustrated with the goal.
Timely: Make sure you have a timeline on your goal. I have found that it also helps to have action steps along the way. In our example goals, I might set action steps like this: 1) Research and buy guitar by mid January. 2) Find teacher and begin lessons by January 31. 3) Attend lessons and practice 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. 4) Find out how to requirements and audition steps for worship band by June 30. 5) Audition for worship band in November.
All these steps are designed to hold you accountable to your goal. Of course accountability is only as good as the one holding you. I also highly recommend that you have someone to check in with you from time to time on your goal to ask how it is going.
What are your goals for 2012? I’ll go first in the comments.