If you are to be resilient or to be hopeful, you must set clear and achievable goals. These are often referred to as S.M.A.R.T. goals. The first letter, S, stands for specific. We know exactly what we would like to do. If we have a health issue, such as decreasing our level of cholesterol, we want to be able to set a specific goal. In other words, we want to make that goal measurable, which is the second component of a S.M.A.R.T. goal. We need to set a specific figure. We would like to get our cholesterol down to 140, for example, so we will know whether we have achieved that goal or we haven’t.
A S.M.A.R.T. goal is attainable. Now, many things are attainable. We could certainly all go to college and try to pursue a profession. But even though we might be smart and we might have the financial ability to do that, we might not have the interest or the patience or time to pursue professional training. The goal would still be attainable if you are willing to devote those resources to it, but it might not be the fourth component of a S.M.A.R.T. goal that is realistic. If we do have the time or the attention to do what would be attainable if we may not have the financial resources to pursue professional training, etc. So for a goal to be a S.M.A.R.T. goal, it needs to be realistic. It needs to be something that we could do or that we are willing to commit the time and the resources to complete.
The last part of a S.M.A.R.T. goal is that it is time-specific. We set a time frame for achieving the goal. We know that we’re going to reevaluate where we are. We’re going to look at the measures that we have set to see if we have completed the goal, and we’re going to know if we have done it, achieved it, by the time that we established at the beginning. We can always adjust our time frame, but it is important to have a timeline for completing a goal. This is where many goals fail. People often do not set a realistic time frame for achieving the goal that they have established.
So, if we are to be resilient and if we are to be hopeful, there needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-specific goals that we establish.
Again, hope does not involve just a fantasy or a wish. It involves a specific plan for achieving that fantasy or that wish. And that fantasy or wish needs to be converted into a goal or a set of goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-specific.
Ron Breazeale, Ph.D.