When autocomplete options are available, use up and down arrows to review and enter to select.
Apply Give

Getting SMART About Our Goals

By: Jack Pizor, Graduate Student Assistant, CFL Coach


Rewinding 9 short months ago, over 150 million Americans embarked on the new year, armed with goals, dreams, and motivation to make the year ahead something extraordinary. These resolutions typically sound something along the lines of “Read through the Bible in a year,” “Lose 25 pounds,” or “Build up some savings for an emergency fund” – all noble goals. Now here we are, in October, over three-quarters of the way through the year and a different reality emerges. If you’re anything like me, not only have you failed to reach your New Year’s resolution, but you may even need to do some digging in the notes tab of your phone to even remember what it was!

Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution or just another goal that you have, many would agree that the busyness of life can quickly creep in – sweeping away motivation, energy, and time to make these goals a reality.  While I can attest to the above sentence, I’d argue that our goals often lack the foundational framework required for long-term success in the first place. We have great ideas and the right aspirations, but we’re lacking in our aim. Before I delve into providing a framework for setting goals using the SMART method, I want to remind you of your value in the Lord and the love that He freely gives.

Pause and reflect on this for a moment: The Lord, in His infinite wisdom, crafted a magnificent plan and purpose for you long before your first breath. (Jer. 29:11) His design surpasses anything we could fathom. (Eph. 3:20) In the grand tapestry of life, our value is not hinged upon the outcomes we achieve or the accolades we amass. (Eph. 2:8) Instead, our true worth is found in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the purpose that God has woven into the very fabric of our being. (1 Pet. 2:9) To be very clear, you are unconditionally loved regardless of whether you accomplish all of your goals, or if you fall flat on your face. (Rom. 8:38-39)

With all of that being said, let us work heartily unto the Lord, understanding that He is the provider of our vision and the director of our steps. Let’s consider the goal of saving for an emergency fund and see if we can refine it, making it SMARTer, and in doing so, perhaps provide the structure needed for our goals to endure over the long term.

The S.M.A.R.T acronym is a simple way to remember how effective goals should be expressed.  SMART goals are well-crafted goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

S – Specific: For a goal to be effective, it needs to be specific. We need to answer the questions: what needs to be accomplished, what are the steps that need to be taken, and who is responsible for taking these steps.

Instead of simply saying “My goal is to build up savings for an emergency fund,” a specific goal may say “My goal is to build up savings for an emergency fund of $2,000. I will do this by putting aside money when I receive each of my paychecks.”

M – Measurable: The second step is to make our goals measurable. To better track our progress, our goals need to be quantifiable and precise.

We can refine our example by saying “My goal is to build up savings for an emergency fund of $2,000. I will accomplish this by saving $200 on a bi-weekly basis when I receive my paycheck.”

A – Achievable: This is the point in the process where we pause to ensure that our goal is attainable. Our goals need to be realistic, not long-shot dreams. Ask yourself: Is my objective something that I can reasonably accomplish? Make adjustments as needed.

Going back to our example, we may add some other clarifying details that make our goal more likely to be achieved: “My goal is to build up savings for an emergency fund of $2,000. I will accomplish this by saving $200 on a bi-weekly basis when I receive my paycheck. I will hold this money in my high-yield savings account.”

R – Relevant: In this step, we need to look at the big picture. Ask yourself, does this goal align with the vision and mission that you have in your life? This is the “why” behind your “how.”

We may adjust our example by saying “My goal is to build up savings for an emergency fund of $2,000. I will accomplish this by saving $200 in a high-yield savings account on a bi-weekly basis when I receive my paycheck. This will save me from having to use my credit card in the case of financial emergencies.”

T – Time-Bound: Last, our goals need to have a finish line. What is your time horizon? Reasonably thinking, when do you plan to accomplish your goal? What are some good milestones along the way to hold yourself accountable to your long-term goals?

The final draft of our SMART goal may look something like this: “My goal is to build up savings for an emergency fund of $2,000 by March 2024. I will do this by saving $200 on a bi-weekly basis when I receive my paycheck. This will save me from having to use my credit card in the case of financial emergencies.”

I’d say it sounds a bit SMARTer than my previous goal to “Build up savings for an emergency fund.”

As you begin to look forward to the final quarter of 2023, I encourage you to get SMART about your goals. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” In the coming week, I challenge you to find a quiet moment with the Lord and carefully assess your goals. Consider how the Lord is using you in this season and how you can refine your goals to make them become specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Chat Live Chat Live Request Info Request Info Apply Now Apply Now Visit Liberty Visit Liberty