By Megan, Contributing Writer
Daily Tip: Avoid discouragement by focusing on what is best for your family and not what “The Jones’ are doing.” (Danielle Tate, More Than Four Walls)
At the beginning of every year it is not uncommon to hear people setting New Year’s Resolutions–usually a list of goals or ambitions they want to accomplish by year’s end. And usually within only a few months of creating the list of resolutions, most people abandon their list entirely, feeling a sense of guilt for not accomplishing what they set out to do.Why do people fail at these goals or resolutions, and furthermore, should we set goals and resolutions each year?
The answers to both of these questions are somewhat entangled in each other. Setting goals for ourselves can be very profitable, but if we do not know how to set goals properly, we can set ourselves up for failure, also burdening ourselves with an unnecessary load of guilt. As if us moms need any more guilt! I’ll explain how to set goals properly, and what to do if setting goals just doesn’t “jive” with you.
If you’re never participated in a goal-setting session before, then you might not be familiar with the acroynm S.M.A.R.T. for setting goals. The S.M.A.R.T. acronym is a device to help you remember that when you set goals, in order to give yourself the best opportunity to reach them, your goals must be:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-oriented
Image by Midconnections.com
There are variations on what all the letters in S.M.A.R.T. may stand for, but this is a good starting point. To give yourself a fighting chance, it’s better to create a goal that matches these aspects.For example, a “S.M.A.R.T.” goal for you or your family in 2013 may be:
Transition off all refined sugars by June 2013.
To make it more specific, you might add: Only use sucanat/rapadura, honey, Grade b Maple Syrup, date sugar, coconut sugar, etc. for sweeteners.
Now your goal is specific (you’ve specified exactly which natural sweeteners you mean), measurable (you’ll be able to evaluate your sweeteners by what is or is not included), attainable (you can always order these products on Amazon.com if you cannot find them locally!); relevant (if you are a reader of this blog and other traditional foods blogs, this is highly relevant!) and time-oriented(you’ve given yourself a timeframe, so start swapping out sugars over the next few months to meet goal by June). Not only is this a smart goal, it’s also a healthy one!
Here’s an example of a “not-so-S.M.A.R.T.” goal:
I want to be healthier in 2013.
Now, that is a great goal, but it doesn’t really fit the S.M.A.R.T. model, instead, it fits an area of focus — health.
For some, setting areas of focus may be more beneficial than setting goals, because it allows you innumerable opportunities to improve. It leaves you with fewer parameters, timelines, and barriers, and in the end may allow you to reach more goals than you may have originally intended. There is even research showing that it may be more effective than setting goals. So, which should I do?
Well, if you’re like me, I would do both.
Set areas of focus, and within those areas of focus, set 1-3 goals minimum.
Coincidentally, as I was getting ready to write this post, my husband sent me a link to Harvard Business Review, which included an articleby Peter Bregman that was a little anti-goal-setting for 2013! Sounded like a lazy excuse to not do anything until I read further:
“A goal defines an outcome you want to achieve; an area of focus establishes activities you want to spend your time doing. A goal is a result; an area of focus is a path. A goal points to a future you intend to reach; an area of focus settles you into the present.”
I can get down with that.
“An area of focus taps into your intrinsic motivation, offers no stimulus or incentive to cheat or take unnecessary risks, leaves every positive possibility and opportunity open, and encourages collaboration while reducing corrosive competition. All while moving forward on the things you [...] value most.”
In other words, an area of focus offers all the advantages of a goal without the negative side effects.
How do you do it? It’s simple: identify the things you want to spend your time doing [...] — and spend your time doing those things. The rest takes care of itself. I have found that five major things are about the limit before your efforts get diluted” (emphasis mine).
A couple of years ago, on a blog I once kept up (but have now sorely slacked on!), I set some goals for myself in 2011. I ended up getting pregnant a few months into that year, and some of my goals went out the window. I did try making my own kombucha, yogurt, and mayonnaise, but I never got around to making my own ketchup, or sourcing actual coconuts to make my daughter’s coconut milk. And for a while, I felt guilty about that! But eventually, without my even consciously recognizing it, I changed from setting goals to setting areas of focus or areas of preference: I would prefer to be healthy. I would prefer to eat nutrient-dense foods. I would prefer to do things that strengthen my body, soul and mind. I would prefer to be apart of and participate in activities that enrich my family.
So, instead of setting limits that I made myself believe I had to meet in 30 days, or 3 months, I shifted my thinking to a path I wanted to be on, and let go of hard & fast rules in exchange for ideals. Over time, it has softened some of my edges, and allowed me to be open to various opportunities.
What goals, preferences or areas of focus are most important to you and your family in 2013? What would you like see yourself or your family accomplish? Do you set goals? Share your experience below!
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