Contributed by: Lauren Moore, MSW, LCSWA

Did you create those new year resolutions as the virtual ball dropped last week? The beginning of 2021 is a great time to reflect back on your experiences, lessons, highs and lows of this past unprecedented year. Take a few moments (or longer…) to review the questions below and write down your responses:

What brought you the most peace?

What brought you the most joy?

What was your biggest accomplishment?

What was your biggest challenge?

What did you grieve?

How did you grow?

Before you solidify resolutions or goals for the year, consider your answers to those questions. How can you incorporate what you’ve learned about yourself into your goals for 2021? Read on to find out how to set a SMART goal.

SMART goals are formatted to make goals tangible and realistic. The ‘S’ represents specific. When creating a goal, make sure that it is specific and avoids vague generalizations. Think about what exactly you want to achieve before writing your goal.

For example: I want to learn how to play the piano.

Next, you want to make sure your goal is measurable, which represents the ‘M’ in SMART goals. When a goal is measurable, you will be able to know when you have achieved it. Consider creating a goal that is measurable by an amount, number, completed task or increase/decrease.

For example: I want to learn how to play the piano by successfully playing one song.

For the following two letters, ‘A’ for achievable and ‘R’ for relevant, reflect and answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to each question. Is your goal realistically achievable for you? If you don’t have access to a piano and/or ways to learn how to play it, you might move on to a different goal. Secondly, make sure your goal is relevant. Is this goal worth your time? If you aren’t truly interested in learning to play the piano, find something that will feel appropriate for this time in your life.

Lastly, ‘T’ stands for time bound. Determine a date you would like to complete your goal by and consider potential deadlines leading up to the final date. Make sure that the dates you select are reasonable within your other responsibilities. If this goal takes priority over something else in your schedule, don’t forget to measure the time it will require to adjust and make changes.

For example: I want to learn how to play one song on the piano by March 1st. To reach that goal, I will gather materials and resources by January 14th, and I will learn the keys of a piano by Feb 1st.

As you get started in your journey to achieve a SMART goal, keep in mind that progress is not perfection. Just as we experienced highs and lows in 2020, there may be some bumps in the road as you work towards learning something new, adjusting habits, building relationships and so on. Continue to reflect on your strengths and use them to keep working at your goals. The team at Queen City Counseling & Consulting wishes you all a happy, peaceful New Year!