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SMART Goals: Living More Effectively

Why Don’t We Achieve Our Goals?

It’s that time of year again. As frum Jews, we don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, but we do have the concept of kabbalos or goals for the upcoming year. But it can sometimes feel like we keep making goals for ourselves without ever accomplishing anything. We have this picture of what we want our lives to look like, but we have no way of realistically getting there.

The Role of ACT

Our biggest problem when it comes to achieving our goals is that we don’t know how to set the right kind of goals. One type of therapy, called ACT, addresses this issue. ACT, or acceptance and commitment therapy, was created to help us live more effectively and make values-based decisions. In other words? Actually achieving those pre-Rosh Hashanah or year-round aspirations! We want to be able to identify our values, what’s most important to us in our lives, and use those to create goals that are achievable. The acronym SMART can guide us in developing our goals.

S is for Specific

Our goals must be specific. For example, if someone values being physically active, it may be difficult to be effective if they say, “I will become physically fit.” But once they specify “I will jog every day for 15 minutes before I go to work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays,” their goal of becoming physically fit is so much more achievable. When we specify what exactly we are going to do, we leave no room for ambiguity or confusion. We know what we must do. Make your goals specific and measurable in order to make them more achievable.

M is for Motivated by Values

Our goals must be motivated by our values. This is the essence of ACT: value-based decisions. When we base our goals on values, we are adding meaning to these goals and increasing the likelihood of us achieving them.

A is for Adaptive/R is for Realistic

Our goals must fit with our current lifestyle. Do our goals make sense, given our situation in life? A young mother must recognize that she has different time constraints and needs than when she was a single girl in her parents’ home. That is what it means to have realistic goals. But we must then be adaptive or flexible about our goals. We must stay open to change when we recognize the reality of our situation.

T is for Time-framed

In order to be more effective, our goals should have a certain timeframe. When will we start our goal? How long will it take? When will we finish? Like we already mentioned by Specific, specifying when we do the actions will help disperse the confusion and ambiguity regarding our goals. We know what we must do, and we know when to do it.

Good luck!


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