What do you wish for your children this year? What about for your family? Here’s how to take those wishes and turn them into SMART goals.
by Heidi Indahl
Towards the beginning of each school year, my husband and I make time to sit down and discuss individual goal areas for each of our children. Maybe we would like to work on potty training with our toddler or building leadership skills with our tween. Each year we have a theme that helps us make decisions about activities and focuses our home school curriculum selections for each child. We make sure to include any sacramental years carefully in our discussion and include the knowledge or skills that they will need to prepare.
Towards the end of our conversation, we naturally drift into what our goals as a family might be. One year, after living on a graduate student’s income for three years, we felt that we really wanted to increase our charitable giving. Some of our goals are faith-based (they relate to service and giving) and others may not be. Some are primarily jobs for my husband and I, while others involve our children as well.
Potty training, leadership skills, and charitable giving are all good wishes for a year, but they really aren’t goals. I like to think goals are the map that make wishes happen. Goals are your “wish roadmap.” Before a goal can be put into action it needs several components. Various people (who are more clever than I am) have created the acronym SMART to help all of the rest of us write good goals.
SMART goals are Specific, Motivating, Achievable, Relevant, and Trackable or Timed. (Depending on which guru you follow, there are some differences in what each letter stands for, but the idea is the same.)
Taking charitable giving, for example, it would be easy to say, “We want to increase our giving.” It would be more specific to say, “We want to increase our giving to 10% of our gross income.” We could make the goal more motivating by stating why we wanted to give or to whom we wanted to give the money. Those statements would also make the goal more relevant. Achievability is something that must be determined individually. Maybe jumping from 0% to 10% giving in one year is too much, and making a smaller move would be more achievable based on your particular family circumstances.
The last component of the SMART goal is to set a timeline. In this case, our final goal might read something like this: “In order to support the mission of our parish community, we want to increase our charitable giving by $20 each month in order to reach 10% of our gross income by January of 2016.”
What are some of your wishes for your children this year? What about for your family?
Take those wishes and turn them into goals. Post them somewhere you can remind yourself of the plan. If your goal involves several steps, be sure to check back and see if there are any small steps you can take on a daily basis to make progress towards your goal. For example, if you set a family goal of increasing works of service, maybe you can call and schedule your next activity or maybe you have supplies that need to be picked up the next time you make a grocery run.
Just a fair warning: Children are very talented at keeping the adults in the house accountable for family goals!