My SMART Goal Process

Having organizational strategies that work throughout the year is an important way to make sure there is momentum behind achieving SMART goals. But as the year comes to an end I’ve learned that it’s a good idea to take time to reassess those goals and consider writing goals for the new year.


SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Relevant, and Time-Bound. This boundary shifts around a vague hope and helps move an action forward that has a beginning, end, and steps in-between. Of course, setting SMART goals is helpful for completing things, but this process also takes more preparation.

As the football season comes to a close I have learned to shift from an “in-season” to a “post-season” mindset. When Ordell coached college football a post-season mindset involved shifting from weekends filled with games to holding down the home front while Ordell traveled for recruiting season. When he was home he was focused on wrapping up the semester, while I was busy preparing for the holidays and fielding questions about whether we were moving. Of course, the most difficult part of the post-season is the reality that you’re actually living in limbo.

Living in Limbo

I’ve written about the challenges of the post-season before. For my own sanity, the best way to embrace limbo is to focus on the areas in my life I can control. It’s difficult to sit while the most important things in your life are determined by other people. Will you still live in your community? Will you move? If you move where and when will these things occur? Very little of this is decided by coaches’ wives even though moving impacts the entire family. And while all these questions are floating around daily life doesn’t stop! If I let my mind roam it will flit from worry to guilt to denial and around and around. Limbo is not fun for anyone.

Instead of increasing the stress-levels in our home I’ve discovered that by taking time each December to reflect on the previous year and focus on setting up goals for the year to come I can spend the most stressful weeks of limbo overwhelmed with gratitude and eager anticipation rather than dread and worry. Today I’ll share what works for me.

My Heart Preparation Process

For the last several years I’ve selected a word of the year to construct my goals around. My #oneword is a something I start to mull in the fall and I find that some time between mid-November and mid-December God clarifies the direction the following year will go.

Having a word to focus things around is important, however it’s only part of how I prepare my heart for the year to come. Ideally, I’ll take a day by myself away from the house. Head to a coffee shop for the morning or if the weather is nice even get outside. When I’m alone here’s how things go:

Things to Bring:

Write Everything Down:

  • Goals and dreams require a foundation
  • Powersheets prep work is ONE method for evaluating and reflecting life from multiple aspects.
  • Set SMART goals incorporating everything into a block calendar
  • Ensure goals are focused around my word for the year and mission statement

Where to Start:

  • Reviewing the last year
  • How did #oneword impact the year? What did I learn? What was surprising? What did I accomplish? What goals didn’t I accomplish? Why?
  • What went well?
  • What mistakes were made? What did I learn?
  • What was fun? What wasn’t fun?
  • Did I stay on mission? Why or why not?

Where to Go:

  • Dreaming about the year to come
  • What do I want to repeat from the previous year?
  • What new things do I want to pursue?
  • What do I need to remove in order to add new things?

Set Yourself Up for Success

For 2021 I’m transitioning away from a season of lengthy writing projects which have required a lot of research and focused time writing, editing, marketing, and creating. Instead I’m going to focus on a learning, training, and growing. I’ll be focusing on thriving. I’ve got a stack of books, a journal ready to fill with notes for my Called Creative teachings, and an online class I am ready to take.

Instead of purchasing the Powersheets this year I bought the Wildcard Pages. These sheets have the tending pages I can use for quarterly goal check-ins. I used an old Powersheets binder and went through the questions on journal pages. If I find that I have a specific set of goals that requires intense tracking I’ll buy the 6-month tracker later on, however, for now I am focused on reading and studying. The Wildcard Pages have individual trackers for these goals.

If you don’t want to buy goal sheet you can download the set I’ve created especially for people who buy Lessons from the Sidelines. They are free and customizable.

You can also use Canva to create your own personalized goal sheets as well. The point is that writing down your goals increases the likelihood that you will pursue and accomplish your them, so don’t be afraid to invest in making your goal sheet something you want to display.

In addition to writing down your goals take time to gather your tools. I have made sure my favorite pens are near my stack of books and that the ones on my kindle are already downloaded. My to do list sits on my desk. I don’t hide it in a drawer. And these journals are thin because I keep them everywhere. One is in my purse and another is in my computer bag. I jot down ideas everywhere I go so that when something strikes I don’t feel the need to remember it later. I won’t remember it later.

Finally, the one thing not pictured here is my online organizational system. Airtable is my lifeline. It’s so amazing I will probably do an entire post on it soon. For now, know that it’s what I organize almost everything in that is on my phone and computer.

Knowing where I’m headed removes all the excuses for pursuing goals. Life is short and God has created us for specific purposes. Let’s seize the opportunities in front of us and engage life with him.

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