There is a quote by the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland that i’ve used before, and it must have significance in my life because I used it to tee up a similar post in the past named Being SMART with diapers.
When we know what we want, the path becomes more distinguishable. We will be able to navigate our obstacles in a different way because we have purpose, drive, and direction. These kinds of goals can be called SMART goals. Again this topic was coupled with the feline quote above, so I encourage you to visit the link and read more about what I mean when I say “Being SMART in diapers.”
The direction my fingers head on this keyboard is more about clarity and direction in our efforts regarding our goals. I submit to you a few examples of what came to mind when I thought about having clarity in our goals. The more clarity and granularity we have in our goals, the more direction we provide ourselves. When a goal can be broken down into consumable, manageable chunks it also becomes much more attainable in our minds. An example of this would be deciding to run a marathon. If you are not a runner this goal will seem impossible (and it very well may be at that time). The gap between your couch and 26.2 miles will fill your mind with self-doubt, fear, and anxiety that you will likely fail before you even lace up your sneakers.
Leveraging SMART, you can set a goal where a timeframe is considered to help create a realistic goal that is attainable. You may decide to run a marathon in the next 18 months, and then create sub-goals that include diet modification, buying new shoes, and downloading a couch to 5k app. (I cannot express how important it is to have a good pair of shoes for your running. You set yourself up for failure if you do not invest in your feet with running. Trust me, each new pair of running shoes are worth EVERY penny because of the miles I know they will support my entire body in.)
Those smaller goals then create a foundation to running your first 5k, finding friends to continue running with, and then building out distance endurance to running a 10k, 15k, and half-marathon. These goals all seemed so out of the realm of possibility in my life…until they weren’t anymore.
We so very often forget the pain and hardship we endure while building up ourselves. Because of this when we lose sight of our goals we then beat up on ourselves even more when we are no longer able to do something.
I am currently rebuilding my running endurance, and it is VERY painful mentally and physically. I have had to remind myself over and over again that it took months in the beginning of my journey to get me to the place I was trying to pick right back up to. Even more reflection reminded me of the accomplishment I felt the first time I was able to jog for 10 minutes in a row without stopping. Then it was 20 minutes without stopping. Then it was a 5K. This continued to build until I ran over 8 miles without walking in preparation for my first long-distance relay with my wife. Completion of that relay was my goal, and the smaller accomplishments along the way were my stepping stones as I reached WAY outside my comfort zone to become someone better.
Leveraging SMART, my goal was:
- Specific: The race I wanted to run with my wife
- Measureable: It had a literal start and finish line
- Attainable: It wasn’t at first, but smaller subgoals mad it become attainable
- Relevant: My physical health is obviously important.
- Time-bound: The race had a specific date it was occuring on
This goal stretched me past what I felt was possible, which I feel all great goals do. The goal, with proper support, takes us to places we never thought we could get to.
The Tree of Life
In the beginning of the Book of Mormon a dream is relayed discussing the “Tree of Life.” Part of this dream, or vision, talks about a rod of iron in which people cling to in an effort to reach their goal. This iron rod visually represents something we can grasp onto as we work towards achievement of our goals.
We all must find things in our lives like the Iron Rod that give us a firm foundation to leverage as we work towards bettering ourselves or achieving a goal. Who and what are the irons rods in your life? I have found that my family, faith, and friends are some of the strongest anchor points in my life. It may be surprising, but diapers have also become a strength and anchor to me as well in my life. I believe, when properly leveraged as a tool, that diapers can be a positive influence in my life. I have to allow them to be, and I also have to control them and myself to keep them as a positive influence in my life.
Learning Flag Football
Another example of clarity comes from the first year my community had a flag football league. We signed some of our children up for the league, and started getting them to their practices. Upon arriving the first Saturday we quickly learned that not only did we not know the rules, but everyone was racing to learn how different this was from traditional American Football. With photocopied rules in hand we began running the first games only to find out that those rules were out-of-date, and we once again had to adjust to another variation of the rules we had been trying to engrain in ourselves and our children. Finally, at the end of the season we had a firmer grasp on the rules and gameplay where everyone was able to be on the same page as the children competed.
The lack of clarity on so many levels, coupled with our own lack of dedication to seek out the rules ourselves before the season started, caused a rough start of my children’s goal of a successful flag football season. This is also a lesson in proactivity on my part as a parent instead of reacting when I was forced to in the moment.
Goals made together
Finally, I wanted to touch on the power of accountability in our goals. When we have someone cheering us on and strengthening us when we are weak we are much, much more likely to achieve our goals. My wife was that cheerleader and hand-slapper when I first picked up running. We were on the same page, because our goals were clearly defined, and when she held me accountable for wanting to make a bad choice I wasn’t mad. I accepted her criticism and knew she was doing it so I could continue on my journey to accomplishment. We had to be each other’s rocks at certain times, and that is part of what I love about my amazing spouse! I know I am a better person because of her, and we truly are better together! Find that support in your spouse, your friends, or even your children.