Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Moving Forward by Stepping Back

By now, disappointing realizations about our goals for the new year can hit our hearts. Are you feeling frustrated?  You’re not alone!  We might have just discovered:

  1. We weren’t nearly as prepared to kick off our New Year goals as we believed. 
  2. Our lack of preparation has stalled us in our aim for personal development.
  3. Sadly, we may have already given up on some of the objectives we set for 2015.
I’d like to encourage you: Don’t give up!  When we desire to move forward, sometimes it’s best to take a few steps back. 

As we desire to press on TOWARD a goal it seems counter-productive to step BACK, but stick with me here.

Evaluate Goals. Are they SMART? 

First, let’s step back and evaluate our objectives for 2015. Examine goals through the filter of the SMART acronym, which has been around for decades.

Is our goal:

S     Specific to give clear direction to our daily to-do list?  Be careful that it’s not so precise that it paralyzes us from moving forward, but detailed enough to help us keep our bearings as we navigate.  A specific goal involves at least part of the plan to achieve the goal.

M    Measurable to show if we’re making progress, holding steady, or backsliding?  Let’s quantify our goal with some sort of numeric or grading system so we always know where we stand.

A    Assignable to someone who can help us achieve our dream? In some cases, this means the ability to delegate tasks. In other cases, such as with personal goals, it’s enlisting the help of another for accountability. 

R    Realistic to achieve? Is our goal so “pie-in-the-sky” that we’re doomed to fail? Or is it realistic yet challenging, so that we can accomplish it within 12 months?  

T   Is our goal time sensitive?  “Someday I’d like to write a book” is a fantastic dream, but without a deadline, there’s no sense of urgency and procrastination takes over.  A goal is a dream with a deadline. 

Recognize Realities

Next, step back to determine if smaller goals are needed before pursuing the larger, more ambitious target.  In this step, we’re evaluating our preparation. We're setting ourselves up for success.  

Ask yourself five important questions and record the answers:
  1. What roadblocks do I see that will keep me from success?
  2. What am I willing to give up in order to reach my objective?
  3. Are others who support my dreams willing to help? 
  4. Do I have the right tools to do the job?
  5. Do I have help and accountability in place to gain success?
The answers to these questions will help us establish the needed goals before the goal.

Let’s play out an example using this theoretical SMART goal:
To improve my personal health by choosing foods low in carbs and fat 
To work closely with my neighbor and walk 10 miles together each week
To lose 2 pounds a week for 12 weeks 
To reach the ultimate goal of 25 pounds of weight loss on or before May 1, 2015
Next, I examine realities that hinder progress toward that goal, using the 5 earlier-stated questions. This is the time for complete honesty. Through examination, I may discover:
  • My cupboards are loaded with holiday goodies and sweets
  • I’ve never been on a low-carb diet and have no meal ideas.
  • My husband loves potatoes, bread, and sweets, yet never gains a pound.
  • I don’t own a good pair of walking shoes.
  • My neighbor wants to walk in the mornings, but that’s when I spend quiet time with the Lord.
  • My bathroom scale doesn’t work well.
  • I struggle with eating temptations.
  • I don’t exercise a lot of self-control. 

Goals before the Goal

Smaller goals are desperately needed before my larger goal can unfold. In this example, the needed goals before the goal are as follows:
  1. Throw away all junk food from my cupboards, donating the non-perishable items.  
  2. Research a reasonable diet plan and find simple recipes.
  3. Ask my husband if, for this season, he’ll enjoy his carbs while at work and not at home.
  4. Develop a plan for snacks and cravings.
  5. Shop for healthy foods and fill my cupboards with healthy choices.
  6. Work out a reasonable walking schedule and alternate morning and evening walks.
  7. Obtain the tools I need to do this job well, including walking shoes and a new bathroom scale. (If I can afford just one, I will choose shoes and use a scale at the rec center.)
  8. Commit my plans to the Lord and pray daily for His help against temptation. 
  9. When (not if) temptation strikes, after prayer, call a friend who is prepared to help.

Once these objectives are met, I’m ready to pursue my SMART goal with confidence. I’ve set myself up for success. I’m ready to start again with stronger conviction.  

Don’t give up, just step back - and you’re well on your way.

Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.  Proverbs 24:27 ESV

Your Turn:

How can we make 2015 better than 2014?

What roadblocks are keeping you from success?

Who provides accountability?

Leave our comments here or continue to conversation on Facebook or Twitter!

Be Strengthened Today, by His Word,
Psalm 119:28


No comments:

Post a Comment