In December of last year, I sat down to plan out my year. I tried to figure out a method I could use for setting attainable goals. You know, not those big, ou-of-my-immediate-reach dreams. But real goals that I could (with careful attention) reach by the next December.
Since it is now mid-year, it is time to work on the ER of my SMARTER goals.
We are in June. The year 2019 is nearly half finished. We have completed the 2018-2019 school year (most of us). And we are heading into summer vacation.
Just as January is the perfect time to hit a reset and start a new year with new goals. So June is the perfect time to evaluate our progress towards those goals.
The busy school year and the activities that go with it are over. The days are longer. The weather is nicer. And we just feel like taking it a little easy for a couple of months. Before the chaos starts up again.
If we want to keep intentionally working towards our goals, we need to take at least a week to look it all over. What is working? What isn’t? Why? Or maybe it is working but we are a bit behind on our projected schedule Why?
These are all some of the questions we should be asking ourselves when doing an evaluation.
Let’s take the example of my goal to finish the reading challenge. At the beginning of the year, I declared my intention to complete the Back to the Classics Challenge 2019. I picked twelve classics that I had never read. And I worked out a plan to finish them all by the end of the year.
In my original SMART goal, I figured that I would need to read about one book a month to be on track. So in my evaluation, I should have finished at least six books by now.
But I haven’t. I have only finished three books. I’m half-way through a fourth. And I have started two more (but I’m only a few pages in). Obviously, I am way off-track already. This is no longer an attainable goal.
So what went wrong? Was my list of books too hard to read for this season of my life? Were the books unavailable? Did I forget about it?
None of the above. The fact of the matter is that I made a conscious decision early on in the year that I would probably not finish the entire list. And that was okay.
Within weeks of starting a new year, I came across other reading challenges that interested me. And I just recently joined two book clubs. Thus adding to my list of books to read in the limited spare time I have for pleasure reading.
This is where we take a look at our evaluation to see what, if anything, we need to do to get back on track. Or to simply stay on track.
Ask some of these questions. What do we need to do from this point on to still achieve the goal? Is this a goal we still want to achieve? Do we need to change the goal itself? Or start a completely new one? Maybe it just needs to be set aside for another time.
Figure out what you need to be doing from this point on and make a plan.
But make sure that it still fits the SMART criteria: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
So let’s go back to the example of my reading challenge goal.
Because I had made a decision to add more reading challenges, and to even join a couple of book clubs, there would be virtually no way of achieving my original goal to complete the entire challenge. Short of reading non-stop.
So what did I need to readjust? And how would I do that?
My original SMART goal was stated, “I will read twelve books averaging 360 pages per month for the Back to the Classics Challenge to be completed by midnight on December 31, 2019.”
This could have been attainable had I stuck to my original plan of focusing on only this challenge. However, by adding other challenges, I need to readjust in order to make it, once again, an attainable goal.
To give you an idea of what I’ve now pledged myself to read, I have the Back to the Classics Challenge with twelve books. The Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge with twelve books. Then there is the Christian Greats Challenge with ten books. The 2019 Women’s Reading Challenge with 26 books. And finally, the Intentional by Grace Reading Challenge with 52 books.
Plus, two books for two separate book clubs (and possibly more in the future). For a grand total of 114 books.
Yep. I did that to myself. The lists were just so amazing. I couldn’t choose just one. So I chose them all with the caveat that I would read as much as I could in the year. And I couldn’t stress about finishing any of them.
Newly Readjusted SMART Goal
So this means that my goal changes. I’m not getting rid of it completely. But I am changing it to fit in my new plans for reading books from different challenges. And to include any book clubs I may decide to join throughout the year.
Here is my new SMART goal: “I will read a minimum of two books per month, picked equally from my five reading challenges, and giving precedence to book club books (which have time limits) to be complete by midnight December 31, 2019.”
The essence of my goal has remained. I want to be more intentional about reading good books. I simply needed to readjust the specific to include the changes I have made up to this point.
And you can do this for any attainable goal.
Feel free to completely scrap a goal altogether as well. For example, in my work category, I chose the goal of creating a bilingual Nature Journal for year-round study. I have gotten rid of that goal (for now) to work on a completely different project that just naturally presented itself.
I don’t feel bad. Life happens and we just need to learn to go with the flow. Because ultimately, we are not in control. God is.