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Setting {SMART} Goals

September 6, 2017
setting smart goals

Have you ever felt like your brain had so many ideas swirling around at the same time that you were afraid it might actually explode?

That is me. Today. Yesterday. For the last few weeks. I suppose it comes with the territory of being at home, “recovering.”  It is something that I cannot seem to turn off, no matter how times I try to distract myself with attempting to draw images that no one will recognize in Draw Something.

The fact of the matter is that all this thinking, while productive and exciting… is also exhausting. Every new idea that I have, leads to ten more new ideas.  I cannot tell you how many new Evernote “notes” I have created in the last few days. Rocket and I have even started talking about me adding a “parking lot” to one of the walls in my new office so that I can go back to some of the ideas with the help of visual reminders.

Some of these ideas are quick and easy. A post topic. A item that needs to be added to a “to-do” list. Ordering coffee (oops, I still need to do that!). Others are more complex and require more reflection. Things that involve soliciting feedback from others, ideas that need to percolate and be shelved until just the right moment (or a better moment than right NOW). Ideas big and small. Complicated and not.

The more I think of ideas, the more I realize that my ideas are only as good as the actions that accompany them. I am not one that likes to see great ideas, or even potentially good ideas, fall to the wayside because I could not follow through. Which is why, the more my brain has been overrun the last few weeks, the more I have thought about using SMART goals to turn these ideas and dreams into reality.

If you are not familiar with SMART goals, they are goals, written with a very specific format that is intended to take conceptual ideas into very specific realities. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound. This acronym is a tool that is used world wide by professionals, executives, and even in schools to help both teachers set goals for their instruction and for students to set their own personal academic goals.  The idea is that when you lay out a plan, that is action oriented, that used in process measures to track results, and that is bound by a timeline…that those lofty dreams scribbled on a post-it note (or into an Eevernote file) are more likely to become reality.

I have written many a professional SMART goal over my twelve years in the classroom, but somehow have never written any for my the rest of my life. Which as goal oriented as I have always been, is a bit surprising when I think about it. But that is about to change. Because I know that in order to turn my dreams into realities, there must be concrete steps, realistic time frames, and actions….lots of actions.

So I will start. I will dig out the templates that I have used with students. I will tweak them to make them work for me. And I will start writing. One at a time, thinking through each step. How will I measure the goal? What resources will I need to achieve my goal? What will it look like when it is successful? I will even try to think through some of the stumbling blocks that will undoubtedly spring up here or there. And then, bit by bit, I will take responsibility for my ideas with actions.

Writing SMART goals and putting them into action are a journey. Sometimes easy, sometimes hard. Sometimes you realize that although you may not have achieve the goal you SET out to achieve, other successes have emerged.  Like planting a seed in the garden, you nurture your goal, completing tasks and actions designed to make it bloom. You cannot account for the thunderstorms that blow the buds off the plants, or the scorching heat burns through the petals even though you watered it in the morning.  And while I am tempted to say, it is “enough” to do your best and keep your chin up, when it comes to achieving your dreams, being enough can be an elusive endeavor.  My efforts will only be enough if I do my very best to follow through on the actions that I set out, AND if I remain flexible enough to know when I need to revise or think outside the box.

Or maybe, at least in the first step of this journey, being enough means allowing myself the time, the space, and the creativity to cultivate these dreams so that I can turn them into action oriented SMART goals.