Be SMART This Year

Fresh into the new year, some of us have made resolutions that have come and gone already, and that’s OK.  I feel that January gets too much hype with goal-setting.  After a whirlwind of holiday hustle and bustle, the only thing I really want to do is savor the monotony of January and put my to-do list on the back burner.  But there is something about the clean slate of a new planner that lends a glimmer of hope towards making positive changes or completing projects too long idle.  So this month’s inspiration comes from that planner and some ideas I stumbled upon online.

I thought it important to include our kids in the midst of this resolution-making.  Goals are not relegated to adulthood, and as a family activity, can provide everyone with motivation and encouragement to help meet those goals.  In this blog post  from Ness at One Perfect Day, she shares a set of questions she came up with to prompt the goal-setting discussion with her 4 year old.  These are great for generating ideas about what things may be a priority for you and your family in 2014.

What would you like to learn this year?

How would you like to spend more time together as a family?

What would you like to do more of this year?

What kind or helpful thing would you like to do this year?  (See November’s post for ideas)

Once you and the kids have had a chance to hash out some ideas and narrow down some goals, start implementing the SMART method.  Attributed to Peter Drucker’s management concepts, the term first appeared in November 1981 magazine article – over 30 years ago!  The mnemonic stands for:

Specific   Measurable  Attainable  Relevant  Time-related

Most goals fail because they are not specific and have no real plan for being accomplished.  One of my son’s goals after his fall teacher conference was to “try harder to get my assignments done” - too vague to measure and ripe for failure.  Unfortunately many of us adults make the same kind of goals – start exercising, get more sleep, eat healthier.  The SMART method requires you to set concrete guidelines that might look like this:

Specific - I will track all my assignments in my daily planner.

Measurable - There will be no missing assignments in any of my classes.

Attainable – If I write down all my assignments, I won’t forget what needs to be done.

Relevant- Missing assignments bring my grades down.

Time-bound - At the end of the quarter, my grades should have improved.

Some sources take it a step farther, making it SMARTER and adding Evaluate and Re-evaulate to the method allowing for a review once the goal is met (or not).

A great craft to go along with your resolution making is one that features reaching hands, found at .  Each family member can trace their hand and forearm on a large piece of construction paper, color or decorate with crayons, pint, stickers, etc., and then cut out and put all the hands together on a larger piece of posterboard or cardboard.  If doing individual posters for younger children, it may be helpful to write the SMART guidelines on a separate piece of paper and attach to the poster as a visible reminder.  Write the goal on a post-it and place it on your hand.  Adding stars is a nice touch and you can take it further still by indicating a reward associated with that goal (write it on the star). It can be a direct result of the goal, like raising my grade from a B to an A in math, or something more tangible like going to the movies with a friend.   Rewards are a great motivator!  Once a goal is met, change the post-it and guidelines to start on another goal if you like. 

If one of your resolutions is to spend more time together as a family, be sure to take advantage of the many Cleveland area events in celebration of Martin Luther King Day beginning this weekend.

Please stop by and pick up materials to help you reach your goals!  From self-help books to DIY videos, we are your source for learning something new this year.  Til next time, stay warm!


Some reading for motivation, determination, and even how-to’s for positive change…

The Little Engine That Could,  JP by Watty Piper

Everyone Can Learn to Ride A Bicycle,  JP by Christopher Raschka

Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type,  JP Doreen Cronin

What to do When Bad Habits Take Hold,  J155.41233 H887w by Dawn Huebner



For tweens and teens…

Wonder,  JF/YA by R.J. Palacio

A Really Awesome Mess,  YA by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

45 Pounds (More or Less),  YA by K.A. Barson

Too Old For This, Too Young for That!,  J646.7 M894t by Harriet Mosatche

The Success Principles for Teens,  Y158 C222s by Jack Canfield

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