SMART goals and the jar of life

There are a couple of great exercises from the jobs course that I wanted to mention here in case they could be helpful to anyone.

SMART goals – maybe some of you are familiar with this already, but I don’t think I’ve seen this module before in my productivity process explorations online. In short, it’s a theory by which goals are designed in the following manner:

Time bound.

If I were to translate this to writing goals, for example, for a goal to be SMART it shouldn’t just be something like “I want to be a writer” or “I want to be a published author.” It should be more like “I want to self-publish a short e-book of [subject matter] by [date].”

In terms of relevance, goals should be prioritized and important to us. So for example while we might also like to say for example learn a language, or wood-working, maybe that goal is just cluttering things up and taking time away from more important things in our life like spending time with family or working on our primary creative or career goal.

Another nice thing we studied in the class was a metaphor involving a jar that is filled with rocks, pebbles, and sand.

The rocks should be the factors that matter most to us in life, such as family and passions (say for example writing), and earning a viable living in some way. The pebbles are the next level of factors important to us, such as friends, specific career path, other hobbies and so on. The final level, sand, is anything else that could fit in but that is not that important or perhaps even detrimental but that is immediately gratifying. TV or Netflix for example, or any habit that just uses up too much space in our lives without bringing us to our most important goals.

As the allegory explained, if we fill the jar with sand first, there is no way to get the rocks and pebbles in afterwards. Conversely if we start with the rocks, then we can still add pebbles and after that sand can still be added. Finally, even when the jar seems full after that, there is always room for a cup of tea to be poured into it. This symbolizes that we should always be willing and ready and adaptable to sparing a bit of time for close friends and family when they have need, or when appropriate.

I found that jar metaphor very helpful. I realized that too often I start with the sand. That way I don’t end up with enough space for the rocks and pebbles.

I have been lately analyzing where blogging fits in this metaphor, for me. I feel responsible to any readers here, and grateful for all the mutual support, so it’s something I need to think about. I must either: 1) archive this blog (and the other ones) permanently, or 2) put it/them on hold temporarily while I have so much going on, or 3) continue with a clear and transparent purpose.

Blogging often causes me anxiety. Why is that, and why continue something that causes anxiety? I think the main problem is I’ve never had, or rather did have, but then completely lost, a clear purpose when it comes to blogging. Blogging should either serve my higher life goals, and/or it should serve others, and that’s it, really. If I keep that in mind the anxiety will basically disappear, and/or the blogging itself should.

I will need to return to figuring out what role blogging has in my life goals and whether it’s even reasonable or necessary at this point.

My current homework for the jobs course which is due Monday is to have some SMART goals figured out. I have worked out three areas of key goals, so I made three sets of SMART goals.

  1. health
  2. family
  3. career

There is also passion/joy and/or creativity, but I think that is already or hopefully will be the weft that weaves all these together.

The SMART goals that I worked out (I hand wrote them in detail in a spiral notebook) will basically take up the majority of my time. In terms of career, I am taking this jobs course which is 10 hours of class time (plus homework, maybe an extra three to five hours or so) per week for seven weeks, and I have also just signed up for two free courses at the local (online) library, both to up skills and certifications in my chosen field (another great resource, which I heard about via the jobs/training course). They will coincide with the jobs course and each run for eight weeks.

There is also community and friends, those are the pebbles and spare time will be filled serving or communicating with those. The rest is sand, and I need to reduce it as much as possible. Because I have so much family stuff going on right now, which is my top priority, and career is the next one my list, blogging might have to be categorized as sand for me.

I will always write, or I will at least as long as it is helpful and therapeutic (i.e. fits in the health category) and as long as it brings me pleasure (passion/joy category). But blogging publicly is optional, at least until and if it actually becomes useful or necessary as part of career. In that case I would have to have a clear action plan, as successful bloggers (including many of you) obviously already have (e.g. blogging once or twice a week with a particular theme or something like that). In sum: I have to severely reduce my tendency to operate on creative whims.

I will finish off here today with this awesome video, which explains the SMART goals thoroughly (and it’s only six and a half minutes long). Also, do check out your local online library — look through their menu items — they may have courses available for free to you, if you have a library card. Amazing, very high quality (college/university level) courses. The ones I’m signed up to are taught by true experts in the field, are highly structured, come with respectable certification at the end, and the value is unbeatable.

[Setting SMART Goals – How To Properly Set a Goal (animated)]

Hopefully some of those goals/life thoughts methodologies were new or helpful to you. Once again, thanks for everything. Whatever I decide to do with this blog, please know that the kindness and support of some of you has been amazing. You definitely made it possible for it to have continued all this time, and much more than that, you’ve made it inspiring and worthwhile.

2 thoughts on “SMART goals and the jar of life

  1. Oh yeah, the jar example is pretty useful. I myself like to juggle many things at once, but if I don’t put in the largest stones first, then I’ll just end up doing lots of ‘activities’ but getting nowhere. Thanks for sharing!

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