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Posted 01/26/2023 in Christian Mental Health Tips

How to Make SMART Goals Even SMARTER Goals

How to Make SMART Goals Even SMARTER Goals

As Christians, it's important to steward the gifts and resources that God has given us well. Setting goals that align with His plan for our lives is one way to do this. However, merely setting goals is not enough. To ensure our goals are effective and aligned with our values and beliefs, we need to use the SMART ER framework.

What Does SMARTER Goals Stand for

S.M.A.R.T.E.R goals is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound, Evaluated, and Recorded. This method provides a practical approach to setting goals that are not only possible but also aligned with God's will.

By following the SMART ER method, we can set goals that are specific enough to provide direction, measurable enough to track progress, attainable within God's will, relevant to His plan for our lives, time-bound to keep us accountable, evaluated to keep us going, and recorded to help us reflect on His goodness through it all. 

In this article, we'll explore each of the SMART ER components in more detail and provide practical tips for incorporating them into your goal-setting process. So if you're ready to set goals that honor God and lead to success, keep reading.

Why You Should Have SMARTER Goals 

You should have SMARTER goals because they are essential to achieving success in any area of life. These types of goals provide clarity, direction, and motivation for achieving desired outcomes, while unclear or unrealistic goals quickly lead to frustration and failure.

See, SMART goals help you focus on what matters most by splitting larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks. They also ensure that your goals are attainable, realistic, and time-bound, preventing discouragement and helping you feel accomplished as you achieve each milestone.

The "ER" in SMARTER stands for evaluate and record, which involves keeping track of your progress and reflecting on what you’ve learned along the way. Evaluating your progress at all times will allow you to identify areas that need improvement and enable you to make necessary adjustments. Recording your progress, on the other hand, will help you see how far you've come, which can encourage you to keep going even when the going gets tough. All of these are important factors in setting and achieving goals that lead to success. 

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SMARTER Goal Setting

Now that we understand the importance of setting SMART ER goals, let's take a closer look at each letter and what it means. By understanding each letter, we can make sure that every goal we set is effective and successful. So, let's get started:

S: Specific

Setting specific goals is vital for achieving success. It helps you clarify your dreams and gives you a roadmap to follow. When you set specific goals, you begin to focus your efforts on what matters most and you start to avoid distractions.

To make your goals more specific, ask yourself questions like: What do I want to achieve? How can I achieve it? What do I need? Who will I need to collaborate with? When do I want to achieve this goal? The more specific your answers, the more specific your goals will be. 

For example, instead of an unclear goal like "I want to lose weight," a specific goal would be "I want to lose 20 pounds in the next 6 months by exercising 5 times a week and cutting out processed foods from my diet."

Setting specific goals will help you stay on track while giving you a sense of purpose. It will also make it easier to measure your progress and modify your actions accordingly. This brings me to the next point.

M: Meaningful

Measurable goals provide an easy way to assess your progress. This type of goal can help keep you motivated and engaged in the process.

To make a goal measurable, ask yourself questions like: How will I measure progress? What metrics will I use? How often will I track my progress? This will help you create specific targets and deadlines that enable you to measure your progress and make adjustments.

For example, instead of an unclear goal like "I want to increase my social media followers," a measurable goal would be "I want to increase my Instagram followers by 20% in the next three months by posting daily and engaging with my audience." 

This goal is specific, measurable, and has a clear deadline for evaluation.

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A: Attainable

Setting attainable goals is necessary to ensure that you don't get discouraged or overwhelmed. It's also important to assess your strengths, resources, and capabilities to determine what goals are possible for you. 

By setting attainable goals, you're more likely to stay focused on achieving them. Remember, setting goals that are too hard to attain can lead to frustration and feelings of failure. It's always better to aim high, but you must also be practical and reasonable in what you choose to aim for.

R: Relevant

SMARTER goals are also relevant to overall objectives. To set relevant goals, ask yourself if the goal aligns with your values and mission in life. This will tell you if it’s worth pursuing.

It’s also necessary to figure out whether the goal is suitable for your current situation. This includes thinking about external factors that could affect its outcome.

Having relevant goals will help you stay motivated and focused. It will also help you avoid wasting time and energy on things that don't matter in the long run. For this reason, it's important to carefully consider the relevance of your goals before pursuing them.

T: Time-Bound

Time-bound goals have a specific deadline for completion. This creates a sense of urgency and can help you stay on track.  See, setting a target date for your goal is crucial to keeping yourself accountable. Without a deadline, it can be easy to procrastinate and lose focus.

To set a time-bound goal, consider a few things. First, make sure the deadline is realistic. Setting an unrealistic deadline will only set you up for failure. Second, be specific about your deadline. This gives you a specific date to work towards and helps you measure your progress along the way. Finally, make sure you hold yourself accountable for meeting your deadline.

By setting a time-bound goal and sticking to it, you can achieve great things and experience a great sense of accomplishment.

E: Evaluate  

Evaluation is a continuous process that helps you stay motivated. It enables you to assess your progress, identify areas of strength and weakness, and make necessary adjustments. By evaluating where you are regularly, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed and stay motivated to achieve your goal.

When evaluating where you are, it's important to ask yourself the right questions: Where am I at this very moment? What have I done to get here? What have I accomplished thus far? What challenges have I faced, and how have I overcome them? What have I learned from this experience? What adjustments do I need to make to continue making progress?

Be sure to evaluate before, during, and after your goal-setting process. An evaluation before setting your goals will help determine is this goal realistic. Regular evaluations in the process of achieving your goals will help you make necessary adjustments and keep you motivated.  And a final evaluation at the end will reveal how successful you were in achieving that goal.

R - Re-adjust:

The final element of the SMARTER framework, "R," emphasizes the importance of ongoing adaptation and flexibility in your goal-setting journey. Re-adjusting involves making necessary changes to your goals based on continuous evaluation and real-time feedback. Life is dynamic, and circumstances may shift, requiring you to modify your approach to stay aligned with God's plan.
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Template for Writing SMART ER Goals 

Here's a template for writing a SMART ER personal goal:

"I will [your goal here] by [how you will do the goal]. I will know I am making progress because [how you will measure the goal] for [time goes here]. To evaluate my progress, I will [what you will do to evaluate progress] at [time goes here]. I will record my progress by [how you will record progress] and readjust every [time goes here]. "


Here are two mental health goals examples.

Example SMART ER goal for decreasing depressive symptoms: 

I will decrease my feelings of hopelessness and negative thoughts by completing a daily journaling sheet when I experience them. I will know I am making progress because I will track my mood each day using a mood tracker for 30 days to measure progress. To evaluate my progress, I will review my mood tracker at the end of each week and compare it to the previous week's results. I will record my progress by keeping a journal of my daily journaling sheets and mood tracker results and readjust every 30 days.

Example SMART ER goal for decreasing work-related stress: 

"I will decrease my work-related stress within the next month by taking two ten-minute breaks during my workdayDuring each break, I will either take a walk, meditate on God's Word, or call a friend to relieve stress. I will know I am making progress when I feel more productive and less stressed by the end of the day. To evaluate my progress, I will record each day if I took my breaks, how stressed I felt, and how productive I was in a journal. I will re-evaluate the success of this goal after a month and modify it if necessary."

By setting a SMART ER goal and regularly evaluating and recording your progress, you can increase your chances of success and stay motivated throughout the process.

Tips for Writing SMART ER Goals 

Now that we've delved into the SMARTER framework, let's explore some practical tips to ensure your goals are not only SMART but also incorporate the crucial elements of Evaluation and Re-adjustment. Following these tips will help you craft goals that are not just aligned with God's plan but are also dynamic and responsive to the journey of faith.

  1. Pray for Guidance:

    • Before setting any goals, spend time in prayer seeking God's guidance. Invite Him into the process, asking for wisdom and discernment to align your goals with His divine plan.

  2. Start with a Clear Vision:

    • Clearly articulate your vision for each goal that aligns with God's vision for your life. Having a vivid picture of what success looks like will guide your efforts and help you stay focused on the end result.

  3. Break Down Goals into Milestones:

    • Divide larger goals into smaller, achievable milestones. This not only makes the overall objective more manageable but also provides opportunities for frequent evaluation and celebration of progress.

  4. Regularly Assess Your Progress:

    • Set aside dedicated time intervals to evaluate your progress. Regular assessments allow you to identify areas of success, potential challenges, and adjustments needed to stay on track.

  5. Be Honest in Your Evaluation:

    • Approach evaluations with honesty and humility. Acknowledge both achievements and shortcomings, and be willing to make adjustments based on your findings.

  6. Stay Open to Divine Redirects:

    • Be open to the possibility that God may redirect your path. Sometimes, what we initially plan may not align perfectly with His will. Stay sensitive to His guidance and be willing to adapt your goals accordingly.

  7. Celebrate Achievements Along the Way:

    • Celebrate small victories and milestones. Recognizing and appreciating progress, no matter how minor, boosts motivation and reinforces your commitment to the journey.

  8. Involve an Accountability Partner:

    • Share your goals with a trusted friend, mentor, or fellow believer. Having someone to hold you accountable and provide support during challenging times can significantly enhance your chances of success.

  9. Keep a Goal Journal:

    • Maintain a goal journal to document your thoughts, reflections, and progress. This written record serves as a valuable tool during evaluations and allows you to track your spiritual and personal growth.

  10. Remain Flexible and Resilient:

    • Embrace a mindset of flexibility and resilience. Life is unpredictable, and obstacles may arise. Trust God's sovereignty, stay adaptable, and view challenges as opportunities for spiritual and personal development.

  11. Regularly Re-adjust Based on Learnings:

    • Use the insights gained from evaluations to make informed adjustments. Whether it's tweaking timelines, refining strategies, or realigning priorities, the ability to re-adjust is key to maintaining relevance and effectiveness.

By incorporating these tips into your goal-setting process, you'll not only create SMART ER goals but also foster a dynamic and spiritually grounded approach to achieving success in alignment with God's plan for your life.Remember to trust in God's timing and plan for your life. Keep Him at the center of your goal-setting process and seek His guidance every step of the way.

Final Thoughts on SMARTER Goals 

Setting SMARTER goals as a Christian is one of the most effective ways to align your actions with God's will for your life. By being SMARTER, we can ensure that our goals are well-planned, practical, and in line with our faith. It’s important to remember that we can achieve our goals by relying on God's grace and strength, and by seeking His guidance through prayer and reflection. 

As we pursue our goals, we should always keep in mind that our ultimate goal is to glorify God and serve His purposes in our lives. Let us, therefore, approach goal-setting with humility, faith, and a willingness to grow and be transformed by the Holy Spirit. 

With the SMART ER framework and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you can and will set goals that honor God and help you live a fulfilling and purposeful life.
Finally you may also benefit by understanding whether you're an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, and tailoring your SMARTER goals to your unique tendencies.  You can learn more about the four tendencies by reading our article on the four tendencies.  

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About the Author:Christian Counselor in Maryland, New York and New Jersey Corine Williams, Ph.D.

Corine Williams, Ph.D. is Clinical Psychologist that is currently seeing clients in the States of Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. You can find out more about her practice by visiting www.therapyforchristians.com/corinewilliams. In addition to providing individual therapy, Dr. Williams is also passionate about writing books and designing merchandise that educate, uplift, and normalize mental health subject in the Christian community. You can find out more about her at  www.booksbycorine.com or by visiting her amazon profile here:  https://www.amazon.com/Corine-Hyman/e/B00AWZ5FL2

Help us increase mental health awareness in the Christian community by donating through our paypal link here: www.paypal.com/therapyforchristians, joining our mailing list by clicking below, or join our provider list here: Provider listing

Disclaimer: the information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are looking for a Christian counselor near you, please check out our directory located here: Christians Therapist Near Me

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