Have you ever said to yourself, I want to change my life for the better? I'm going to spend a certain amount of time in prayer, meditation, working out or something to get me on the track! You're ready to start down the path to a better you, so you set the alarm to 30 minutes earlier than usual because you read a great book on how to start your day off right by waking up early. The first day comes around, the alarm goes off, and you hit the snooze button because you need an extra 15 minutes of sleep. You hit it a few more times until you wake up late, rush to get yourself ready to go to work and your first day goes by in a flash. By the time you settle down to take stock of your day's activities, it's time to hit the sack. You make yourself a promise to start the next day again, with all good intentions. The problem? Your schedule didn't change, and you didn't put anything in place to adjust to your current lifestyle or adjust your current lifestyle to accommodate the new schedule. Otherwise known as, you have no plan, no system, no realistic goals. The end of it all? You give up by accepting your current state thinking that you will never change.
Sound familiar? It sure does to me, because this routine is exactly where I was a year ago. I would set a goal, read a bunch of books, blogs and websites to figure out how to reach my goal but I never had a realistic plan. Eventually, I would give up feeling discouraged and hopeless. Now things have changed just by the few steps that I've implemented in my daily routine. I'm being honest. It was not easy. It takes discipline, motivation, follow-through and a good support system.
Change doesn't happen in a day. It takes small, intentional steps to get on the road to a better lifestyle. The process never ends, because we are ever-changing beings. So don't be discouraged by the process, just make up your mind to commit, and you'll see tangible improvement.
With that said, I want to introduce a very familiar concept to achieving goals, but with my personal twist. This idea has helped me and so many others, so I know it will help you. The acronym is called S.M.A.R.T. It stands for:
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Realistic
T - Timely
Here is the explanation in a nutshell. To see real results in any plan you are better off being specific in the goals you want to achieve. For example, if you want to lose weight, just saying "I need to lose weight" will put you in a losing position right out the gate. Why? Your goal is too broad. You have no target to look forward to and no idea how to get there because there are a million ways to lose weight. Instead, the goal should sound something like "I want to lose 48lbs in 6 months". Now you have a target and a time frame in which to achieve that goal, and it will be much easier to measure your progress. Now that you can measure your progress you can break down that larger goal to smaller weekly goals. Something like "I am going to lose 2lbs per week". So now you have broken it down so that it does not seem so overwhelming. 2lbs per week sounds a lot easier than 48lbs, even though those 2lbs will eventually add up to the overall 48lb goal. It's a mental thing.
Now that you have narrowed your goal to 2lbs a week, it seems more attainable, and you can make adjustments to your lifestyle to achieve this mini goal. If in three weeks you find that you are only losing 1lb per week, you can either adjust your goal or your lifestyle to crush that 2lb per week goal.
Now that you have your timeframe set and the number of pounds you need to lose, the A.R.T in S.M.A.R.T is easier to achieve. Your goal is now attainable, realistic and timely. This is assuming your goal was realistic in the first place. For instance, you will not set a goal of losing 100 lbs in 6 months, unless you're planning to go to a special camp far away in the woods away from any delicious foods. If you intend to continue living your daily life, then 100lbs in that time frame is not a realistic goal. You will get discouraged when you don't hit the target and end up right where you started.
You see how that works? S.M.A.R.T goal setting is very simple and effective. It is also versatile and can be applied to every part of our lives, even our spiritual growth.
You may ask, Stacey why do I need to have spiritual goals? All I need to do is pray, fast and read the word of God. It's not what we should do to grow in Christ that I'm addressing. It's HOW we can do it to get maximum benefits. So here we go!
What is spiritual wellness? Spiritual wellness is about finding meaning and purpose in life. It involves mindfulness, knowing our purpose as well as appreciation and acceptance of God. Spiritual wellness can be experienced and achieved through prayer, fasting, reading and meditating on the word of God. In addition to those activities, making connections with loved ones and other people in our community, aka fellowship, is vital to our spiritual growth.
Now that you have the meaning, what is the goal? Well, let's take a look at a couple of biblical references to see what growth looks like.
In Galatians Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit. To summarize his point, he is saying that if we are true and mature Christians, we should be exercising and displaying certain character attributes. If our roots are nurtured with the right stuff, then the right fruit will be produced. If you find that you are having issues loving others, you are depressed or negative, anxious, impatient, mean-spirited, unfaithful, harsh and lack self-control then something is wrong with your roots.
Peter picks it up and talks about a particular mixture of character ingredients that produce a good Christian. I like the way he talks about the ingredients and how we should add them to our lives. First, we have our base ingredient which is faith. Notice that we don't add faith because we are all born with a measure of faith. Our first addition to our base ingredient is moral excellence, and then we add knowledge, then self-control, patience, endurance, and top it off with brotherly love.
That's a lot to accomplish, and most people think that you need to be all these things in a short period when it may take a lifetime to achieve all of this. Don't be discouraged by the time it takes for growth. One habit I've learned to break is the habit of looking at how long it takes and the number of steps it will take to accomplish my goals. Instead, I envision the person I want to be and begin to work towards becoming that person. I encourage you to take this approach. It will help you keep your eye on the prize.
In my next post, I'm going to get right into how to apply S.M.A.R.T goal setting for spiritual growth so make sure you sign up for post updates, so you don't miss anything. Also, click here to sign up for the intro FRESH START SERIES where I give a detailed plan on how to get started on living a more holistic healthy lifestyle.
Until next time,
Live in gratitude. Live in Love.