As a Children’s Ministry leader you are constantly setting goals for your programs. Your goals will help inspire you, grow your programs, and meet the needs of the kids in your church. I like using SMART goals because they force you to create well-thought-out goals.
Goals are the short-term steps that will help you reach your vision, achieve your mission, and fulfill your purpose. SMART is a mnemonic – a memory device to help you remember the five components that make up a good goal.
- They are simply written. They give the what, why, and how of the goal. They are clear to anyone with a basic knowledge of the program. A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general one.
- There is tangible evidence you have accomplished the goal. You want to put concrete numbers in your goal to know if you are falling behind or are on track.
- Action steps are built right into the goal – it’s going to tell you what to do. That means that a SMART goal needs verbs.
- This type of goal motivates you. Rather than dragging you down because you just can’t see how you will accomplish it, a realistic goal challenges you while motivating you because it can be met.
- Putting a date in your goal creates a practical sense of urgency. You will know by a specific date whether you have accomplished your goal or not. You will also be able to see if you are on track to finish it or if you are lagging behind. Including a date for completion creates internal pressure to accomplish the goal.
- Don’t give yourself too much time, though, because this can affect your performance. It almost encourages procrastination.
What to do When You Fail
It happens! We don’t always accomplish our goals. So, what do you do when you fail?
1. Take a Close Look at the Goal
Read it over carefully. Was it specific? Was it measurable? Was it actionable? Was it realistic? Was is timely? If the answer to just one of these questions is no, that could be the reason the goal was not met. Try re-writing the goal (with a new timeline of course!) making sure that you include each of these components.
2. Consider Why You Didn’t Reach Your Goal
You may have written a really solid SMART goal and still not reached it.
- Did you forget about it? Consider using a reminder to track and measure your progress – keep a journal, write the goal on a whiteboard that you see everyday, use a tracking app on your phone or computer.
- Did you procrastinate? If you are a procrastinator, consider breaking down the goal into smaller steps giving yourself some small task to accomplish on a regular basis that will help you meet your goal. What can you do today, this week, or this month that will take you a step closer to accomplishing your goal.
3. Consider an Accountability Partner
It’s much harder to forget about a goal or procrastinate working on your goal when someone else knows about it and is keeping you accountable.
Sometimes you can re-write the goal and try to reach it again. Sometimes a goal cannot be tried for again. In this case, don’t beat yourself up too hard about it. Give yourself a break. But, also, don’t let yourself completely off the hook. Look at why you didn’t reach the goal and make it a priority to not make those mistakes next time.
Learn more about SMART goals and lots of other Children’s Ministry strategies in The Well Equipped Volunteer Children’s Ministry Handbook.