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There is a popular system that enumerates the components of well set goals using an acronym.  Of course.

S.M.A.R.T.

Specific.  Measurable.  Attainable.  Relevant.  Time-Based.

Now, typically I would shudder and throw this off as sounding too much like the garbage thrown at us in meetings during my career life.  You know, the smarmy stuff managers love to drone on and on about for an hour while you fidget, trying ever so hard to stay awake.  Unfortunately, nothing in the office changes except the cute little reminders posted everywhere, including your morning email, which merely distract you from what you really should be doing to attain any legitimate goals.

But, truly, this acronym is smart.  I mean, I’ve determined for over a year now to lose ten pounds.  Then, twelve.  Then, just eight.  Oops, back up to ten.

My goal hasn’t been specific enough, nor has it been measurable.  While attainable and relevant, I’ve set no time based element to it.

So, this new year I have determined to be S.M.A.R.T. in my goal setting and game plan.

As for my body image issue, my specific goal is to have a firmer butt and abs.  The measurable part is simply doing 50 crunches and 50 squats each morning.  For now.  I’ll incorporate a more aggressive approach as I work my way back into this.  I printed out a challenge worksheet to follow and help me stay on track.  I have decided that wanting to lose weight isn’t really attainable for me right now.  I spent too many years without a lot of pleasure in my life and, so help me, I’m going to enjoy a few things now.  My breakfast this morning is a wonderful Ethiopian coffee lightened with raw milk and sweetened with raw sugar accompanied by Trader Joe’s stuffed Hazelnut cookies.  Breakfast of champions!  And, dang!  It is goooood!  Actually this little tweaking of my mindset is more relevant to my actual goal.  I truly don’t care what the scale says.  I care more about how I feel and how my clothes fit.  And, my clothes must fit the way they used to by May when I have a trip planned to see my oldest son graduate.

This, I can do.

I also desperately want to be financially stable.  Not necessarily secure.  I’m not quite certain that’s a possibility for me at this late stage of the game.  I’m awfully old to be starting completely over with nothing, in the hole.  Over the course of my marriage to a man who seemed to suffer an allergic reaction to employment roughly every two years, I became an expert at making do.  Sticking to a budget, cooking from scratch, and going without are not my problem areas.

It’s being independent.

Right now I am still very dependent on a child support check that doesn’t always come.  When it does, it arrives at random times.  I can’t depend on it, though I AM depending on it!

My specific long term goal is to obtain training and employment that allow me to survive regardless of the financial games my ex plays.  So, I met with an adviser at the local community college and have a check list to follow.  I have applied for and received my new social security card in my new post-divorce hyphenated name.  (Do you like the way I hyphenated a word right before the word hyphenated?  I love word games!  wink, wink!)  I then took the new card to the college and requested they fix my records to join my two accounts.  Now, we can see exactly what credits I have from eons ago that may apply to my new major.  I filed a FAFSA.  I’ve researched grants and scholarships for domestic violence survivors and displaced homemakers and workers.  I have yet to take the placement test or call the university to find out if they accept all of the credits from the college.  I’d love to graduate from the community college with my Associate’s and transfer to the university as a Junior.  We’ll see if that’s possible.

My checklist helps make the process steps measurable.  This is attainable; I know I’m capable of doing this.  Acquiring new computer skills is definitely relevant to the current job market and my need to earn a living.  And, again, the school’s checklist gives me a time based track to run on.

I have no desire to enter the corporate world.  My heart is still at home with my children.  Melanie Duncan’s Creativity Checklist is taped to the wall next to my computer.  My aspirations for my new free life are to still be the home schooling mama I believe God called me to be and to release all the pent up creative energy I’ve been sitting on my entire life.  My dreams of a small farm are gone.  I just want to pay the bills, put food on the table, enjoy time with my children and grandchildren, and find a profitable creative expression.  And, not NEED that damn child support.  I don’t want to need him for anything.  (I say that with a distaste in my mouth, as though I just ate something bitter.)

To help me determine just exactly what it’s going to take for me to survive, I downloaded Expense Manager onto my phone.  I am tracking every single penny I spend.  I have a separate, printed list of unmet needs.  By following a budget and tracking spending and then blending that with an itemized list of potential expenditures I’ll be able to set a realistic budget and necessary wage goal for post graduation.

S.M.A.R.T.

Specific.  Measurable.  Attainable.  Relevant.  Time-Based.

It’s about time I got smart, don’t you think?

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