Setting smarter goals in 2018


By James Willoughby



As we wrap another orbit around the great gaseous ball of fire in the sky, humans scamper about our terrestrial sphere busier than ever, clamoring for more. More stuff. More hobbies. More causes. More rights. More voices. More vices. More of everything.

More isn’t inherently bad. As we dream of what is to come in the year ahead, many of us are thinking of positive ‘mores.’ We want to spend more time with family. We want more healthy habits. We want to pursue more meaningful lives. We want more joy in our marriages.

But even in positive contexts like these, more can be harmful. As I think of the direction in which I want to grow and the healthy habits I want to adopt, I find I can bite off more than I can chew. I can set resolutions or goals that are too lofty or just too broad.

If I say I want to be healthier or to be a better husband in 2018, I set myself up for failure because I haven’t defined what actions I’ll take to achieve this goals. I do have large overarching goals of becoming healthier and being a better husband, but if I don’t break these large goals down into manageable, realistic tasks, I will never move forward.

If you have spent any time in the business world, you’ve probably heard of SMART goals. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

For me, setting targets that are relevant, specific and attainable are the only way I will actually have success. Relevant means, “How does it tie into my bigger goals?” Specific means, “What exactly am I going to do? Who, what, when and where?” Attainable means, “Can I actually achieve success in this area?”

For example, I want to be a better leader in my home. To that end, I am scheduling family meetings in 2018. I have already purchased a white board calendar where I can schedule the meetings for all to see and to jot down our notes.

Our first few meetings will revolve around establishing a family mission statement. So I have listed out questions to help our conversation. And I have committed to this goal in front of men in my life who will hold me accountable.

These are some of the specific and realistic measures I’m taking to move me towards being a better leader in my home. They aren’t difficult or ground breaking, but they are happening.

I have a few other goals for 2018 that are similar to this, because I am taking specific actions to move towards mile markers that I know I can hit. And they are moving me in the overall direction I want to go as a God-fearing man, as a husband and as a dad.

I’m not going to win a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 or chisel my abs into a six pack. But I know I will take several small steps that will move me forward in my journey. And I will end 2018 a better man than I am now.

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By James Willoughby

James is a regular contributor who writes about marriage, family, and faith. He lives in Tipp City, Ohio.

James is a regular contributor who writes about marriage, family, and faith. He lives in Tipp City, Ohio.