Hey there smarty pants! (Goal-setting and the Jewish new year)

Today is one of my favourite days of the year because... drumroll... it’s the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLL!!! This means that my kids have been declawed and sanitized and are returning to some structure after they became somewhat feral these last two months. It also means I’m meeting about 100 new students who I’ll help guide through their journey of becoming teacher. It means a return to a more regular rhythm after the baccanalian beat of summer. It means things tend to settle. I always loved the first day of school when I was growing up. A new year meant new possibilities. I always had this awareness that I’d be somehow different at the end of the year than at the start. It was exciting.
 
The Jewish new year is approaching and I also think it serves us to think that we can be somehow different at this time next year. New possibilities are afoot for all of us, even if we are returning to the same job or same situation as the year before. Each new year presents the chance to ask ourselves what we want to do and who we want to be. 
 
With my students, we speak about setting goals for the year. You have likely heard of “SMART goals” before. SMART is an acronym:
 
Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Relevant/Realistic/Risky
Time-bound
 
The idea is that we are going to be more successful if we target our goals to something specific (not “I want to be a better person” but, rather, “I will volunteer my time 3x a week); measurable (we’ll know if we are doing that once a week or not), attainable (something we can really do). 
 
The “R” is a funny one. Most people say “realistic” but I think that’s the same as “attainable.” Some say “relevant,” which makes sense — we want our goal to be something that will make a difference in our lives or in the world. No point setting goals about things we don’t care about. But I like “risky” for “R”. The idea that our goal will push us a little out of our comfort zone so we experience genuine growth. 
 
“T” means time-bound. We check in every now and then (I do it every three months) and see if we’re on track. We can then course-correct if necessary and not find ourselves where we were when we set goals again the following year.
 
Last week I spoke about environmental sustainability and happiness. All my goals this year relate to helping reduce climate change. I am moving towards an almost completely plant-based diet, trying to reduce consumption in many ways, committing to reducing my use of plastics overall and disposable cutlery, plates, and cups in particular, and wanting to travel/drive less. I have SMART goals in these categories. I believe in repairing the world and really want this year to be a year I make significant progress in this area.
 
What are your goals? Are they SMART? I’d love to hear about them!

Till next week,
Denise

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