January marks the beginning of a new year, it also marks a time of reflection of past experiences. Self-reflection and evaluation is a normal experience at the beginning of a New Year. Many people utilize this time of year to look forward and establish new goals.  Still others avoid setting goals because the task can be overwhelming.

Why is goal setting important? Goals give us hope. Hope is critical to happiness and well-being.

As people live longer it is important to set long-term goals as well as short-term goals.  This is especially important to seniors who may feel, at times, that there aren’t many new goals left to achieve.  This thinking can lead to depression.

Goal setting begins with imagination.  Categories to focus on might be personal, professional, financial, physical, mental, or spiritual.  Questions to ask yourself might be, “Where am I in my personal life?”; “What would I like to change?”; “Would I like more friends or fewer friends? ”   “Where am I in my spiritual life?”  “Could I feel better about my mental capabilities?”

A helpful acronym to utilize when setting a new goal is SMART.  SMART stands for Specific Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Trackable.

For example, the question “Where am I in my personal life?” might lead one to discover that they may have many acquaintances and not very many truly close friends.  A goal of learning more about each acquaintance might be a goal.  Using the SMART method, one might set a Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Trackable goal of asking three “friends” to share their family history.

A SMART goal for the physical category might be to begin a new therapy program to regain strength you may have lost in the past year through inactivity or injury. If you have become mostly homebound, then asking your doctor about home therapy or nursing is a SMART goal you may want to consider. Actually doing the therapy would be a trackable goal.

A SMART goal for your spiritual life might be to start reading and doing research.  If you are religious then study not only your own religion but study different religions and other cultures as well.

Using the SMART method for goal setting will not only help you think about specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and measurable goals – it may give you the courage to dream!

Here’s to those who dare to dream – may your new year be filled with SMART goals.