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February 22nd, 2024

SMART Goals for the New Year: How to Set Them and Follow Through


Smart Goals for Smart Saints

This is the time of year where everyone and their friendship circles set goals and have vision board parties. The time for the planner section in Office Depot to be empty is upon us.

Be prepared for resolutions to be declared and diets to be started. And no, there is nothing wrong with any of these things, but I want us all to be mindful of our execution.

Proverbs 29:18 in our Playbook says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” So, yes, we’ve got to set those goals, but we have got to make goals that are attainable, not just cute on paper or a “vision board.”

See, planning means nothing without follow-through. James 2:26 tells us that “faith without works is dead.” When we set goals and write our visions out, we are essentially just putting forth faith that these things will get done over the coming year. It is important to put forth the effort that it takes to get things done.

Have you ever heard of SMART goals?

smart goals
Source: Dungdm93, Wikimedia Commons

Well if you haven’t, you will today. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Now, I have noticed, at the few vision board parties that I have been to, people set pretty lavish goals. On one end of the board, they are trying to get a better paying job and find a car, and on the other end, they are purchasing a 12-bedroom house and a yacht.

Okay… okay… I know God can do anything, but we must sometimes be practical with what we expect of ourselves.

Back to the SMART goals… let’s break it down, just a little:

  • Specific: Write down exactly what you want to accomplish.
  • Measurable: Be sure that you are able to track your progress, e.g. track weight loss by taking measurements at set times or track your financial goals by how much you save within a timeframe.
  • Attainable: Be sure that the goals you set can be achieved within the timeframe you set.
  • Relevant: Make sure your goals fit your lifestyle, purpose, and will help you in your next phases.
  • Timely: Give yourself a time limit to complete each goal.

So, what’s the play call?

Making plans can be the easy part. I do it all the time. Then, I may end up on the couch because I didn’t follow through (Friday night problems). Here are a few things to keep in mind as you break out the glue sticks and poster boards for your SMART goals:

  1. Seek God first. We have tons of great ideas, but are they the will of God for our lives? There are a couple of ways to find out, but asking God is the safest, most fail-proof way to know for sure. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
  2. Write it down. I can’t begin to count how many “great” ideas I’ve had and forgotten them because I didn’t take the extra couple of minutes to write them down. Don’t be like me in those times. “And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” Habakkuk 2:2
  3. Don’t be so hard on yourself. As I shared in a previous article, my dad passed in November 2018 and since then, I have been struggling to “pick up where I left off.” I have beat myself up trying to “catch up” and reach goals because others are still moving at a fast pace. I’ve had to learn not to be hard on myself. So, I am telling you that it’s okay not to keep up and it is okay to set goals that may not seem as farfetched as those of a friend or colleague. “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:11
  4. Don’t rush yourself. And no, I don’t mean for you to drag your feet, either. But, what I’m saying is that so often we feel like we are behind time, so we try to rush our goals into existence. We rush that business plan without planning for a rainy day, saving a little extra, and reviewing blueprints that extra time. We rush the wedding because everyone says we’re too old not to be married with children. Set the goal, work toward it, and let it happen. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” Ecclesiastes 3:1

I pray that we will all seek God before we set those smart goals. I also pray that everything you set your mind to do for the year, you accomplish. Remember to think SMART.


Alecia M. White
Author, blogger, lover of coffee, and all things Jesus. By profession, Alecia is a teacher and administrator. She recently published her first book "The Thing Is...", a poignant look at suffering and endurance. She is privileged to share her love for Christ through her writing.
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