Every year like clockwork, society begins to speculate about the hope that the new year will bring in. We take a few days, usually between December 26 through 31st, to reflect on the last year and think about what we hope to cultivate moving forward. I feel like for most people, and definitely in most capitalist environments, I hear of resolutions related to better health and physique; starting that business; starting and/or finishing school, and more. And again like clockwork, these resolutions are found down the drain by February, floating away in the stream of failed attempts. "I'll try next year," we say.
Instead of trying next year, or refraining from trying at all, a simple shift in perspective can help us take the leap of faith into a new venture with hope and perseverance. May I introduce to you, SMART Goals (Doran 1981).
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Resourced, and Time. Essentially, the aspects of this acronym all work together in harmony to help goals look and feel achievable while still being manageable and adaptable with life's ups and downs. Essentially, this means it is possible to lose weight, live a healthier lifestyle, or start that business without the passion and motivation that leaves us like a cold breeze in spring.
Below are the details of each part of the SMART acronym, as written and introduced to me by my therapist. It is my intention that these ideas aid in helping those who use them to create goals that help them live more authentically and in alignment with who they want to be. Don't forget to share your own SMART goals in the comments below! Without further ado....SMART GOALS
SPECIFIC: Be very clear in what you want to achieve. Consider breaking the goal down into smaller steps.
MEASURABLE: How will you know when you have achieved your goal? What will you be doing at that time? What will others notice you doing? What will be different? What will you have started or be doing regularly? What will you have stopped or be doing less of?
ACHIEVABLE: Ensure your goals are not too high. Don’t set yourself up to fail! Consider setting smaller goals on your way to the big one. Celebrate your successes. If you don’t achieve what you set out to, then ask what you could do differently, what would make it more likely to succeed next time?
REALISTIC & RESOURCED: Is this achievable with the resources I have? Are there any other resources you need before you can, or to help you, achieve your goal? How can you access these resources? What problems might you have? What can you do to minimise those problems?
TIME: Set a reasonable time limit to achieve your goal. 1 week, 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years? Consider different (smaller) time limits for smaller steps.
Late night scrolling through social media has led me to become more and more angry with (twitter) users who are boasting about how grateful they are for the pandemic because without it occuring, they never would have accomplished x, y, and z. As someone who has accomplished x, y, and z, and more in the midst of the pandemic, I can understand the sentiment that these users are trying to address and share. In any circumstances it is absolutely astounding and exciting to accomplish any goal we set for ourselves, and we all deserve to relish in the praise and pride of said accomplishments, especially when the world is working against us. But being grateful for the opportunities that quarantining provided us is completely different from being grateful for a pandemic that has been the cause of hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of positive cases or infections. To be quite honest, that idea is offensive.
These numbers aren't just a sequence made for fun, these are real people with real lifes that make a difference and even more importantly mean something of great value. These are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, first responders, congressmen, waitresses, tech geeks, clerks, insurance agents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and more but most importantly every single one of these people are human.
We do not hold value because of what we do, what goals we accomplish, or because of what we look like. We hold value simply because we exist. Our value is found in who we are. And every human is valuable. We are not numbers. We are living, breathing, beautiful people. It is offensive to say that you are grateful for a global event that killed so many of these simply valuable humans.
The deaths of many, the love and lives lost and divided, the pain and the ache that this disease brought so many people, is NOTHING to be grateful for. There is absolutely nothing about the pandemic worth being grateful for.
The fact that we are human gives us great value in the world, and that in and of itself is a good enough reason to let go of our need to be grateful for the pandemic and acknowledge instead the value of our lives and the lives of those around us. This value exists because we do, not because of what we do with our lives. Being human is enough.
Maren Hoflund MT HHP, is a massage therapist and holistic health practitioner based in San Diego. This her self created space where she explores topics such as mental and physical health, self care, spirituality, and child development; in addition to her poetry and prose.