Blog post by Allison Hadley, Clinical Intern at Owens & Associates

            In Parts I, II, & III of “Keep Your Goals Rolling”, we went over what S.M.A.R.T. goals are and focused on the letter S, for specific, M, for measurable, and A, for achievable. We explained how to make your wishes specific in order to make them distinct goals, making milestones to measure when you have achieved your goal, and the questions to figure out how achievable your goal is. So now that we have those in mind, we’ll get started on the last two letters, R for revelant or sometimes realistic, and T, for time-bound.

            Sometimes the A for achievable and R for relevant/realistic can seem redundant, but looking into how relevant or realistic our goals are can make all the difference in their success. Depending on the source you are reading from, the R can stand for either relevant or realistic. Regardless, it includes asking these two very important questions from “Why am I setting this goal now?” Is it aligned with my overall values and objectives? These questions in some ways relate to the questions asked for achievable, but differ based on why this goal is being set now, and whether it is relevant to our overall values.

            In my examples from Part III, this would be asking myself: why am I wanting to kayak? Why is starting my own business important to me? How do these goals fit with my values and life goals as a whole? Maybe it’s because I want to relocate in the next few years to somewhere where kayaking would be a good fit for my health, exercise, and spiritual needs. Maybe starting my own business would be part of serving my community, because that service is lacking and I want to fill it. These goals somehow align with my life values, goals, or purpose. If they do, it becomes a lot more realistic that I would be willing to do all that is necessary to succeed in reaching my goals. For other example goals, maybe they fit in with your life goals and values because they will help you be more present and happier with your family or friends, put you in better health to be around for your loved ones or other life goals, or it would help you feel less isolated in the world and loved. Without understanding how relevant these goals are in the big picture, it might become less realistic to achieve them.

            All these steps lead us to the final letter, T for time-bound. Sometimes it may feel like having an open-ended goal will make it easier for us to reach it, but that isn’t very realistic. How often have we told ourselves that, some day, we’ll eat healthier, spend more time for loved ones or for our hobbies? Has that happened yet? Probably not, because we haven’t given ourselves a time for when we want to be doing it. We finish our homework and work projects roughly around the deadline because it makes the goal time-bound; there is an expectation that the homework or project is completed by a set date. The same goes for our personal goals. After completing the other steps in our S.M.A.R.T. goal setting, we can develop a time to have succeeded in our goal at a realistic point in our lives, whether that is 6-months or three years from now. There’s success planned at a time-bound point.

            Take some time to figure out how relevant, realistic, and time-bound your goal is. And remember, your counselor can help with realizing and achieving your goals! Now, let’s get those goals rolling!