MH@H Mental Health

My Goals Aren’t so SMART

smart goals written on a post-it note
gabrielle_cc on Pixabay

I’ve been thinking about goals for a while now.  When I started my bullet journal in January, I started a 2-page spread for goals.  I came up with some blogging goals, but otherwise not much.  It’s something I revisit regularly, but still there’s not much.  And I’m not sure if that’s a problem or not.  Am I just not trying hard enough?

I just Googled goal setting, and the first hit that came up was about SMART goals.  SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Limited.  It’s hard to avoid, though, that mental illness is operating on its own agenda and will happily throw a monkey wrench into all of those things.  I have no idea what’s going to be attainable and realistic six months from now, which makes me reluctant to set specific goals, especially if I’m trying to think more than a couple months ahead of time.  It was interesting to see many of my thoughts on this topic echoed in Revenge of Eve’s recent post.  Setting goals and then failing miserably is only going to make me feel more crap-arific, so that’s something I want to avoid if possible.

Long-term goals

Do more travelling:  Not a SMART goal, but what can you do.  I used to think I’d like to have visited 40 countries by age 40, but I’m definitely going to end up falling short of that goal.  Now I’m just hoping I get the interest and energy back to do more travelling, but right now am feeling pretty lukewarm about this.

Get a community mental health job:  This is the kind of work that I like to do and am good at doing; however, there are some external barriers that need to somehow remove themselves before this is attainable.  I’m not sure yet how that’s going to happen.

Find love: This is not the least bit SMART as a goal.  It doesn’t have to be romantic love, but probably having the love of someone a little more human than a guinea pig would be a good thing.  But then again I hate people, so perhaps it’s best to just cross this baby off the list.

Have a barnful of animals: This is not very realistic, but it makes for a nice little bucolic dream.  I am not currently and probably never will be capable of taking care of a barnful of animals.

SMART goals for this year

Europe trip in the fall:  I’ve been thinking about this for a while.  I had been thinking Slovenia and Croatia, but then decided that might involve more moving around than I feel up for.  Now I’m thinking Italy, but I want to be sure I’ll have the stamina for wandering around and seeing the sights, so I’m going to leave a final decision until closer to the time.

Submit a paper to an academic journal:  I have an almost completed paper that I started a year or two ago examining my own experience of workplace bullying within the context of nursing culture.  It uses the same research methodology (autoethnography) that I used in my master’s thesis and previous papers I’ve published.  It’s been on the back burner because the peer review process is intimidating.  It’s the role of peer reviewers to pick apart any holes in a manuscript, so that if it does eventually get published the work is the best it can possibly be.  I’m just not sure if the inevitable criticism (I say inevitable because it’s just part of the process) might have a negative effect that outweighs any potential benefit.

Get a tattoo with a Celtic oak tree design:  This idea popped into my head a few months back.  I liked the idea of a design symbolizing endurance.  But as time has passed since the initial spark I’ve grown pretty apathetic about the whole thing.

Do a nursing continuing education activity every month:  I’ve been doing this, even though to be honest it feels kind of pointless.

What I’ve found to be most effective is setting out weekly goals in my bullet journal.  That’s a manageable time frame that allows me to plan and act.  And I suppose if that’s what’s working then that’s what I should be sticking with.  I can set goals for the future when I get there.

Creating a bullet journal for mental health

This how-to guide on Creating a Bullet Journal to Support Mental Health is available free from the MH@H Download Centre. My approach isn’t about artistry; it’s all about functionality.

14 thoughts on “My Goals Aren’t so SMART”

  1. I love this post and the word Wednesday 🙂
    Perhaps the first list, the one with love, should be converted into a bucket list. That relieves’s any pressure. (and cross love off…. lmao) As for your paper, I encourage you to do it. Don’t look at the critique as personal. Accept it as growth. You will learn from it and that is a bonus. Perhaps set one goal for six months out and let that be the only one. Once you achieve that, set two six months out from there. I think all of your travels sound therapeutic. I know our afflictions control us sometimes but I doubt you will regret taking those leaps.

  2. You have come up with some great goals, it may be that right now you don’t have sufficient enthusiasm, energy, or motivation to make any progress on them but that’s fine. I cannot future plan right now, even thinking about school summer holidays gives me anxiety. Like you, I look about one week ahead and use my bullet journal for that. I may make some monthly goals but they tend to be focused around my hobbies (running, writing, knitting). I find I just don’t care if I fail to meet them.
    I am not myself anymore, I used to be a planner of control freak proportions, now I just don’t care.
    Be kind to yourself, it’s only a problem if you think it’s a problem xx

  3. Same. I can’t keep any long-term or mid-term goals because the illness just keeps throwing a wrench at my plans. Weekly goals are great. That’s a smart move. 🙂

  4. It is hard, isn’t it? Last time I made some goals, they were vague and unSMART. I’m about to draw up a list not so much of goals, but of things crying for my immediate attention, to try to work out if I can balance my life better (ha ha). I’m not sure I’m really capable of medium-to-long term goals at the moment.

  5. I love SMART goals! I use them with my students at school and with myself in life. To me, specific is one of the most important criteria of a goal. I find that sticking to very concrete, measurable details is a lot easier for me to keep to. I love that you have a mix of personal and professional goals on your list. The tattoo one is my favorite; I am also working towards another tattoo!

  6. Goals can fail to come to fruition, but I think the point of setting them is to have them to work toward. For example, if a project doesn’t get finished in a week, it shouldn’t matter, as long as you’ve been working toward it. That’s life, I guess. But I don’t know what I’m saying because I’m half asleep right now!! 😀

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