September is Self-Improvement Month. It’s also Food Safety Education Month, Prostate Health Month, and Baby Safety Month. But let’s just focus on self-improvement, shall we? September always feels like a new year to me, even more than January. Maybe because this is when school starts. Even though most of us are not returning to school this month, September is the perfect time to push the reset button.
This month, we’ve been talking about a different aspect of self-improvement.
Set SMART goals to improve your life
Let’s dive into Goal Setting!
Did you set a goal in January? How’s that working out for you? I meant that sympathetically, not sarcastically.
Seriously, have you been making progress toward your goal? Was the goal too ambitious? Is pregnancy changing your priorities? Or maybe you are finding that you set the wrong goal altogether. This is the week to take stock of your current goals, course-correct, or maybe even eliminate a goal and set a new one. This week, think about a few tweaks you can make that will improve the quality of your life.
But before you start, let’s talk about the right way to set goals. Be SMART. You may already know about the SMART method, but here is a review. Your goals should be:
- Specific – Instead of promising to save money, set a specific goal to transfer $100 per week to your savings or retirement account. Instead of “Learn to speak French,” say “I will download or buy a course and spend one hour a day learning French.”
- Measurable – A wise person said you can’t improve what you’re not measuring. How will you know if you are getting closer to reaching your goal? If you are learning a language, your goal may be to learn 3-5 new vocabulary words a day, or 25 per week.
- Attainable – Be real. If your goal is to be on the Olympic cycling team for 2020, you are going to be very disappointed (unless you are an elite athlete already). If your goal is to improve your 60K cycling time by 10 minutes each month, that’s attainable.
- Relevant – If your goal in January was to run a marathon, this may not be as relevant to your new life as a parent this year. Don’t give up that goal, but adjust the goal so that it’s in alignment with where you are right now. Perhaps the focus now needs to be on consistency (X number of days a week, X minutes daily), not a particular performance goal.
- Time-bound – Set a deadline and stick to it. If your goal is to save a certain amount of money, set a timeline and break it into smaller amounts weekly or monthly.
Let yourself dream big for what you want
With all that said, dream big.
Daydream about what you would like your life to look like in a year, five years, ten years.
Then drill down and set some explicit, doable goals. And don’t forget to celebrate achieving even part of your goal. I listened to a great interview with William Shewfelt, the actor who plays the Red Power Ranger on TV’s Power Rangers Ninja Steel. He is a remarkably wise 23-year-old who made the point that, in any endeavor in life, if you don’t make it to the pinnacle, you are still better off than if you hadn’t tried. You learn new skills, you know what works for you and what doesn’t, and you are better than when you started. Remember that and give yourself some grace, even if you fall short of your goal. Robert Browning said, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, else what’s a heaven for?”
You can accomplish big things if you’re taking care of yourself now. Make the rest of September’s focus on caring for yourself on another level by setting SMART goals and learning to dream a little bigger.
If you’re excited about achieving some dreams this year, I’ve been working on a special gift for you that I’ll be releasing later this month. It’s called the ‘The Self-Care Guide for Pregnancy’ and it’s designed to give you permission to take care of yourself, with some little tips and tricks.
Watch for the Guide – it will be coming out soon – so stay tuned.