Taking a Midyear Inventory - Be SMART and Work Toward Those Goals

It is just me or is this year whizzing by?

This past Friday marked July 1 – the midpoint of 2022. My, how times flies! Vanessa and I spent some time last weekend taking inventory of this fast-moving year – where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.

For many of us, those January resolutions have long since fallen by the wayside – the ever-popular losing weight, or reading the Bible through in a year, or rising early each morning to spend some “quiet time” with the Lord in prayer and study. For others, praise the Lord, you may still be going strong and that’s great. Keep it up!

How about you? How are you doing?

Perhaps it’s a function of aging but it seems that time is moving faster as we continue to make these annual revolutions around the sun. With that knowledge comes the need for urgency – for couples and individuals to be resolute in working toward our goals and making those dreams come true.

Vanessa and I learned long ago that setting goals as a couple is one avenue we travel down that helps us keep growing. After more than a quarter-century of marriage, we still continue to grow - together.

If you’ve been in the workplace for more than a day, you have likely heard of SMART business goals – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. SMART goals can also apply to a marriage:

Specific - when you and your spouse sit down and set goals, the more specific you are, the better. “We want to have a better marriage” is a broad goal. “I want to be a better mate to you by taking you out on a date night every Friday” is far better and is specific. “I know that timeliness is important to you so I will be ready for church at 9:30, not 9:45” is a specific objective. Set goals with one another and be specific.

Measurable – measurable goals are setting up some “checkpoints” along the way. They also allow you to make adjustments as needed. For example, to follow up on a pledge to save X amount of dollars each month simply means taking a look at that checking account and verifying with your spouse that it is underway.

Attainable – is your goal achievable? Having a big goal is great, but there is also a need to be realistic. If your goal is to have a million dollars in the bank at the end of the year, that might be a stretch if you’re starting with $50. Or losing 60 pounds in a month – that’s probably not going to happen. Setting unattainable goals can be discouraging, so don’t despair if you need to set modest goals to start. You’re giving yourself room for growth as a couple – and that’s okay!

Relevant – how will your goal benefit the two of you in the long-term? If your goal is to visit Iceland by the end of the year but your spouse hates flying and hates the cold, that’s not the best goal for the two of you. But what if your spouse loves ballroom dancing and you have two left feet? I’ll just bet he or she would be thrilled if you said “Okay, Honey – I want to take lessons if you’ll do it with me.” What is a goal that floats both boats – make it relevant! Don’t invest time and effort into a goal that’s irrelevant to the two of you.

Timely – deadlines create a sense of urgency. It’s important to set dates by which you achieve your goals. Working together with an end in sight and seeing progress is a great incentivizer. Earlier in our marriage, Vanessa and I set a goal to conquer a sizable debt. We “chased” that goal for two years with lots of belt-tightening and holding one another accountable. We conquered that mountain, and we did it together.

So many factors can interfere with achieving goals – bad attitudes, doubt, family challenges, health matters, financial struggles, life stresses…and the list goes on and on.

I’m blessed to be a natural optimist but I have my moments. That’s why it is such a double blessing for me to have a spouse who is willing to peel me off the wall, give me a pep talk, remind me of who and whose I am, and tell me that tomorrow is a new day with new mercies. My greatest encourager will tell me to “get back out there and get going.”

It’s important to set and strive for goals. The road to our goals inevitably comes with potholes, roadblocks, and detours. I have come to believe that God allows some difficulties to develop my character. (I keep telling Him that I feel like it is developed enough – but the challenges keep right on coming.)

July 2022 is here! Nearly 60 years ago, when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, he talked about “the fierce urgency of now.” From the COVID-19 pandemic’s global toll on life to continuing political turmoil to ongoing disasters and violence all over the world, those poignant words still ring true.

We must cherish each day that God has given us. It has been rightly said that we don’t get to choose how or when we’re going to die but we can decide how we’re going to live.

As the seasons change, treasure each moment, sit and talk with your loved one(s), and work toward those goals together. You can do this!

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