Vacation Reflections: Resolutions

1-9-13 resolutions

Not-So-SMART Goal Setting

The turning of one year into another brings reflection for many people, reflection that includes evaluating and looking back on the past year in a way that provides insight as to where to focus efforts in the new year ahead. For many, this means setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant goals that are also Time-bound.

SMART goal setting works for a lot of people. I’ve tried the SMART approach, but it has never been very effective for me. I struggled with sticking to the “requirements” of this approach and constantly felt too confined by it, probably due in large part to my tendency to go against the flow. (If others are doing something, if something is trendy, I look for reasons not to do it.)

While on vacation last week, my husband and sons set their goals for 2013 rather quickly. To no one’s surprise, I took a little longer to set mine. While inspiration for my guys came from “this is what I want to work on and accomplish,” inspiration for me came from a variety of sources that were much less direct.

What I’ve come to realize is that not only are goals themselves highly unique to the individual, goal setting is as well. While my husband and sons can set SMART goals and find great success, I find myself going a very different route. The problem up to this point has been finding a route that truly took me in a productive direction.

This year, I am taking the One Word 365 approach. This approach seems to fit my personality and temperament not to mention my habits and preferences much better than other approaches I’ve tried. But as they say, time will tell.

The idea for a One Word 365 approach began while reading 2013 Will Be My Year to Pursue by Stephanie Spencer at Everyday Awe. Confirmation for taking this approach came while reading One Word 2013: Listen by Teri Lynne Underwood at Fresh Perspective and Cour_ge vs. Fear by Amy at The Messy Middle.


Setting goals as a family provides a great deal of accountability. But where I struggle in this area is that the accountability source is usually me. I remind my guys of their goals and ask them about their progress. They receive external encouragement from me.

While I am a largely internally motivated, I still desire external encouragement too. In fact, I think I require more external encouragement than my guys have it in them to give and in a deeper way than they can provide. I also get the sense that I am not alone in this.

I believe that no one person – not even your spouse – should be asked to fulfill all of your needs except Jesus. And because I believe He so often does this through connection and community within the Body of Christ, I am requesting accountability and encouragement for 2013.

This request for accountability comes not only for myself, but also for others within your circle of influence. Just as personality and temperament affect how a person sets and achieves goals, so too do they affect how a person encourages another. In other words, however you feel led to encourage others, not necessarily me, let me encourage you to Be Encouraging Just By Being You in 2013.

So, what is my One Word 365 focus for 2013?

1-9-13 amplify beach 1










On Friday, I will discuss how and why I chose “Amplify” for my One Word 365 in 2013.

DISCUSSION: What is your approach to goal setting? Please share that approach along with some of your goals in the comment section.

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22 Replies to “Vacation Reflections: Resolutions”

  1. Kari,
    I look forward to where this "amplify" takes you. I like the word. It makes me think of taking something and making it more than it can be; or helping to keep it moving or speeding it up. Perhaps you will add colors and attributes it does not have. I am anxious to see your goals around Amplify.
    One of the things that I do is that I teach Franklin Covey's time management course so I am into goal setting and planning in a large way. I think you get a lot of benefit to think about each of your roles that you have such as a father, friend, spouse or whatever and ask yourself what you want to do achieve within those roles in a certain time period. Once you do that you work on those dreams and put together a plan of how you can make it happen… the steps required. After that you can on a weekly basis take some of those steps from your different plans and work on them. I firmly believe that you achieve great things by working a little on them on a consistent basis. The effort is in the discipline to plan, to schedule, and then to work your schedule.
    I'll be following you as you "amplify" and hopefully encourage along the way.

    1. I took a Franklin Covey seminar years ago (like almost 20) and still remember many of its applications today. There are so many great resources like this out there, and I am believing more and more that the message takes precedence over the method. In other words, find what works for you and helps you effective, and use that. Also, to be aware that a method may "run out" on you, meaning you need to find another method. But the message always stays the same. Deliberately find a way to stay productive for His Kingdom. And, I believe the method will always include focusing on small things that over time add up to make a big difference. These basic elements are the foundation for the systems that really work. Just some sort of random thoughts on the topic. Not sure how "amplify" will show up in blog posts, but I'm certain it will as I focus there in the various areas of my life. I look forward to and welcome your input, comments, etc. too.

  2. Kari,
    I am also trying something different this year called 30 day challenges. I found this on a friends blog:… I hope to do several different things during the year such as drink 4 bottles of water a day for 30 days, write an encouraging note a day; drink green tea once a day(to develop a taste for it I hope); exercise 2x a day; take a picture a day; learn a new craft by working on it 30 min a day for 30 days; no candy for 30 days; and things like this. I started January with 4 bottles of water a day. I am going to try to make the challenges be done each month.

    1. Another great idea, Mark! This is especially effective for people who struggle with keeping to goals much beyond a month, which is most people actually. It also gives variety for those of us who get bored easily. Yet, these small things will all add up to a better you (the bigger picture). Thanks for sharing this!

  3. I wrote about mine recently over here:
    I'm not a huge fan of the SMART method either – at least in the sense of applying it to each and every part of your life. Some goals just don't make sense to go that way. And I totally agree with you about finding an approach that works for you. Your goal system is not independent – you have a relationship with it. So it makes sense that the optimal system will differ from person to person.

    1. I have read your post on goal setting, and I was hoping you would comment on this topic. Two points stand out in your comment that I want to stress. First, not only will systems for setting goals as well as the goals themselves differ from one person to another, the system from one goal to another can differ as well. In other words, what works for one goal may not work for another. Second, the idea that we have a relationship with our goal system is a key point. And, being Christians, since we also have a relationship with Christ, it stands to reason that our goal system should be directed and fed by that most important relationship. I feel like I live that, but I do struggle with verbalizing that concept. Thank you for making those two crucial points!

  4. "Connection and community" caught my attention. We tend to flourish when we're connected with the Lord and His people. Your word "Amplify" does grab one's attention. I am curious to see how that surfaces in 2013.

    I chuckle a little bit at your comment that you buck against trendy things while at the same time you embrace something, One Word 365, that appears trendy to me. Not a criticism in the least. Just an observation. I've noticed a number of bloggers sharing on this theme.

    1. Research actually shows that connection with community is one of the elements that impact whether or not a person's faith grows. I am curious as to how it will surface for me in 2013 too, and perhaps it will be in ways that I don't notice and need others (like you) to point out to me. Kind of like you did with the trendiness of One Word 365. I had not heard of this approach before a week ago, and so to me it did not stand out as trendy. I guess perspective has a lot to do with what's trendy sometimes, doesn't it? I mean, I see what the "fashion experts" say is trendy to wear, and I guess I just don't understand their perspective since I'm all about comfort. Thanks for the observation. I appreciate you making it because it opened my eyes to trendiness a bit more with regard to perspective and preference and opinion.

      1. As to One Word 365, you heard about something that works for you, and that was the main point you made in the article. It's a tool you've got in your how-to-grow toolbox. You can pull it out this year, use it, see how effective it is, and hold on to it if it works.

        I hadn't heard of choosing a single word for a year's focus until November or December. I don't know where the idea began but it disseminated rather quickly throughout the Christian blogosphere (at least from my perspective).

        All in all, I like how you've listened for and embraced a surprising word. Amplify challenges a person to find and turn up the volume on that which is of great value.

        1. I hadn't hear about it before last week, and then I got 3 emails within a day or so on it. The timing was perfect as I was searching for how to approach personal improvement in the coming year. The reason I think it jumped out to me so much is because it fit with how I already approach personal improvement in that I often focus on a specific area and go at just that for a while until I feel I've made progress. I did it with simplification when I basically crashed and burned 3 years ago, and I am doing it now too with tweaking. I'm looking forward to hearing what you and others have to say about my take on the word "amplify" and why & how I chose it.

  5. Hmm, interesting word, Kari – I'm looking forward to hearing what that means to you! I do like to focus on only one or two spiritual goals but I spell them out rather than just writing a word. This year I'm working on learning to use my time well and overcoming perfectionism, which might be the biggest one reason I don't use my time well.

    For a few years I gave up on other goals altogether, but now I'm back to listing a few of them – writing goals, etc – although the bad thing is that I said etc because I couldn't remember what the others were! Loren had a good post on this a couple of weeks ago and I'm going to try to follow his approach. Review my goals every 2 weeks and see what I need to put on my to-do lists.

    1. Using time well and overcoming perfectionism… very important areas to work on for everyone. Would like to hear more about how you do this and perhaps some sharing along the journey of doing so this year. I think a lot of people – if not everyone – struggle to some extent in these areas. I read Loren's post as well, and he mentioned it in his comment on this post too. He's a great resource for this topic for sure!

      1. I just had some great time with God over perfectionism last night. I may share that on my blog next week if it fits in – it seems like it will.

  6. I like that your whole family sets goals together. My husband is so happy that he never feels a need to set goals, although my guess is getting over the flu is his sole focus. My word for the year is encourage. Using my new blog to encourage others is my goal for the year. As I'm leaving for vacation myself soon, though, I'm realizing I need encouragement from the Lord to continue doing what I'm doing. Hope you were refreshed by your time away!

    1. We have set goals together for the past 3 years, and it's been a very bonding experience. Encourage is a great focus! It will come back around to you in countless ways. Our vacation was very refreshing. We take 2 a year as a family, and we just talked last night at dinner about how they are "requirements" at least until the boys are out of high school and hopefully beyond. Enjoy your vacation too!

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