By Amanda Huffman
2023 is here and often people set goals at the beginning of a new year. But if you are like me and are getting a slow start to 2023, you may not have even thought of setting goals for a new year. And even if you have set goals for 2023, these tips may be able to help you refine your goals and make them even stronger.
First off, why do you need to set goals? As a military spouse, you may not have a job, but instead a lot of uncertainty for the future with a potential move, deployment, or other life-changing events. Sometimes it can feel like it will be a year wasted and you will only be moving backward instead of forward. And if you don’t set a goal that is probably what will happen. Even if you can take one small step forward over the course of the year, that is still progress and something you should be proud of.
Oftentimes when people set goals they use the SMART method. If you don’t know what SMART means, it stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. While I think the SMART method is a great method to use to get you started. I also get tied up on the word achievable. As a recovering perfectionist when I see that my goal needs to be achievable I sometimes limit what I write down to make sure I meet that goal instead of pushing myself past what I believe is achievable to help stretch myself. Because isn’t that what goals are all about?
Pushing yourself helps you get outside your comfort zone and change your life in either small or big ways. If you are like me, don’t get stuck on the achievable aspect, and always remember your goals are your goals. You can adjust fire, change direction or abandon them altogether if life throws you a curve ball or an unexpected opportunity arises that takes you on a new path. Even if you don’t meet your big goal that you started at the beginning of the year, that doesn’t mean you are a failure. Instead, focus on how much progress you have made. And don’t be afraid to make changes as life happens.
In mid-December, my friends convinced me to run a 15K (9.3 miles) in February. Running a race is an excellent example of a SMART goal. It meets all five of the requirements. It is specific. I will run a 15K in February. It is measurable, I will run a 15K. It is achievable, I will be able to run a 15K by February. It is relevant. I wanted to start running again to get healthier and lose weight. Signing up for a race gave me the motivation I needed to start running and training for a race. And it is time-bound. The race has a date.
But you can dive deeper into this goal. If you noticed, my goal only focused on the distance but I could also attach a weight loss goal, a speed goal, or even intermediate goals like running three times a week to help me stay on track. To make my goal of completing a 15K a stretch goal, I also added a time focus. Because, truthfully, I could probably complete the 15K the day I signed up for the race. I would have been in a lot of pain and probably would need to walk a lot and might not be able to move the next day. But I could get it done.
So instead of just making my goal to complete the 15K, I have also added a time to shoot for. Originally, before I started training I thought if I trained I could run the 15K at an average of 9:45 minutes per mile. But as I started training I realized that goal is probably too easy and I should adjust it to 9:30 minutes per mile. I don’t know if I will be able to meet that goal. But I can strive toward it. And as my training continues I get closer to race day. I will continue to alter my goal, pushing myself to stretch well past what I originally planned.
Another example of this time related to military life is setting goals during a PCS. If you run a business your goal could be to make enough income or get far enough ahead that you can take time off to move. If you are moving with kids you could set a goal to see one (five, ten, or more) interesting places on the drive from your current home to your new assignment. Your goal is to have your house unpacked within six weeks of arrival. This last one was my goal this past summer and as we downsized at our new location I realized this wasn’t realistic and so I did what I could and just restarted the final unpacking/organizing over the Christmas break. There are a lot of opportunities for goal setting within military life.
And while you need to be flexible to the twists and turns military life throws at you, you can also set goals to help track your progress and give you something to celebrate each time you hit a goal. Military life can be challenging. And celebrating those little or big accomplishments is so important for your mental health.
So no matter what 2023 holds for you, set big goals and then see what you accomplish. Do you have a goal for 2023? Share it in the comments. We would love to cheer you on to meet it.
Amanda is a military veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer who served on a combat deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career in the Space Force. Amanda is the host of the Women of the Military podcast. There she shares the stories of women who have served or are serving in the military. The podcast has over 200 episodes and over 100K downloads. Amanda is also an author and has published two books. Her first book, Women of the Military tells the stories of 28 military women who served in the military. Her second book, A Girl’s Guide to Military Service, is the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Winner for Teen Non Fiction. It is a guide for high school girls considering military service to help them build a strong foundation for their future career. She also works as a freelance writer and has been featured in a number of military publications including The War Horse, Military.com, Military Families Magazine, Clearance Jobs, Military Spouse Magazine, and more.