How can you turn your God-given priorities into S.M.A.R.T. goals?
If you have finished filling out the Priorities and Planning Worksheet, you now have nailed down a list of several priorities that you are confident the Lord wants you to work on. This next step will lead you through the process of creating goals for each of those priorities. For this, you will need the S.M.A.R.T. Goals Worksheet.
Take your list of priorities and transfer them to the column of this worksheet labeled Priority. It will help you in the long run if you prioritize your priorities in some way. For example, you may want to be a good husband, a good father, and work your way out of debt, but your wife says your marriage is going great and your children are currently acting like little angels, so maybe you want to shift paying down your debt to a higher priority at this time. You would put that first on your list. This does not mean that you view paying down your debt as more important than being a good husband or father. This simply means that you find it extremely urgent at this point in your life.
Don't feel the need to use up all ten slots. List only the priorities the Lord has placed on your heart.
Once you have the Priority column filled out, you can move on to the Goals column. Productivity experts claim that a good goal exhibits these characteristics:
How do you make a S.M.A.R.T goal? Let's take one example of a goal and put it through the S.M.A.R.T. framework.
Many people want to have financial freedom. But if they make a generic goal at the beginning of the year to "have financial freedom," that is not a SMART goal. For one thing, how would they know if they attain it? There is no benchmark for success. Financial freedom is a desire--and a good one, a God-honoring one--but it is not a goal. We need to turn that desire for financial freedom into a SMART goal.
Here is a possible way to phrase it: "Attain financial freedom by getting out of debt. I will pay off 10% of my debt each month for the next ten months." This goal is specific. It states that you will pay off the totality of your debt. It is measurable. At any point during the next ten months, you can see whether you are on track to pay it off. It is actionable: it starts with the awesome action verb "pay." Without more details, I don't know whether it is realistic or not, but it could certainly be tweaked in order to become realistic for you. It is also time-bound. There is a definite ending date by which the debt will be fully paid.
Financial freedom, however, probably includes other goals. This is why there are five goal slots beside each priority. Perhaps, in addition to paying off debt, you wish to take on a side business or a second job. Perhaps you need to make a household budget. Maybe you need to move out of your expensive rental and rent a less expensive one. These various tasks can each be listed as a SMART goal. Each priority in your life can be tackled in multiple ways, by making multiple goals. The SMART Goal Worksheet is important on the front end for brainstorming the ways you can make actionable progress in your areas of priorities. Some of your priorities will have only one SMART goal. Others may require several. Take your time and think this through prayerfully.
Here is another example of a desire: "I want to be healthy." Let's change that into a SMART Goal by saying, "I will improve my health by walking/jogging 5-6 times a week for 45 minutes from 7:00-7:45." This goal is a SMART Goal because it states exactly what I will do in my pursuit of health, it measures the amount of time I will take to do it, and it tells how many days of the week I will be exercising. It is realistic in that it doesn't state an expected amount of weight lost (which is more of a desire than a goal), but states the actions I will take that will eventually lead to weight loss.
Making SMART Goals takes practice, but it is well worth the time and effort put into it. Take the time to work through the SMART Goals Worksheet, filling out several goals for each priority. Again, you may not need to make five goals for all of your priorities. For some of them, one or two goals will be more than sufficient.
The Goal Setting Series: