Over the last several weeks I have enjoyed watching the trees and the forest floors sprout new life. Buds turning into new leaves are popping up all over Nova Scotia. And tiny white blooms that will soon be fresh wild strawberries are in abundance on some of my favorite trails.
As I have been enjoying the change in landscape from dry, dead fields recently exposed by melted snow, to a lush green horizon, I have been thinking about the changes these fields represent. I have been thinking about goals and working toward positive change. The blooms of spring are a beautiful reminder that setting goals leaves us in a state of sweet anticipation, with something delightful to look forward to. I certainly am looking forward to returning to the patches of strawberry flowers I have discovered, to taste the sweet fruit that will soon replace the blooms.
Over the last several months some of my own personal goals have slowly been becoming a reality – and the anticipation has been as sweet, and delightful as the taste of a wild strawberry.
You see, I want to be a home owner. I have lived in an apartment for far too long, sharing food smells in the hall, overhearing conversations on balconies, inhaling cigarette smoke that I don’t want anywhere near my precious lungs. I have had a headache from my neighbor’s chemical laden dryer sheets for long enough.
I want to shovel my driveway and prune my shrubs. I want to haul my compost bin to the curb and hoard a little stash of money in case my water tank needs to be replaced. I want to step back and look at my house with the pride that comes with the hard work it takes to make it a home.
So, I set some hefty goals this past year. My partner and I researched to the penny what it would cost to live in a house rather than our apartment and we saved that amount of money each month until we had a down payment and full closing costs.
The key to reaching our goals has been setting goals smartly. S.M.A.R.T goals were first introduced in 1981 by George Doran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham. Goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-Bound.
In setting my goal of home ownership, my goal was specific. The end result of my goal would be to own a home on the outskirts of the city. Leading up to the very end result, the amount of money we would need to save was also very specific.
My goal was measurable. I determined how much my down payment would need to be, how much closing costs would be, and I saved until I had this amount. I measured how much I needed to save, and how long it would take to save it.
My goal was achievable. I worked out my budget and knew that I could comfortably save the amount of money I would need. It was realistic to save that amount, and because I was saving the additional amount needed to live in a house rather than an apartment, I knew that the end goal of paying for a home, and all the costs associated, was realistic and attainable.
My goal has certainly been results-focused. I am not only excited about owning a home but owning property where I can nurture nature with flowers that attract bees, and with a bat house (on my own tree!) to attract and protect bats – the result of my goal will be a place where I can better connect with nature, and myself.
Finally, my goal is time-bound. It was easy to work out how much and how long it would take to save what we needed, and to know when we had accomplished our goal. When we saved enough we began house hunting.
The entire time I have been saving I have had a clear vision of what I want to accomplish. I want to hang my clothes on a clothesline in my back yard. I want to plant a vegetable garden and clip my own lettuce for the salad I’ll pack in my lunch. I want to feed the birds and keep track of the different species that visit my feeders. I want to start a new blog where I write about getting back to my roots in a more rural community. I want to share the progress of my garden as I learn to grow tomatoes, beans, carrots, peas and lettuce. If I am successful and have a good crop, I want to share my garden’s harvest with friends and neighbors. My vision is clear, and that has been a key factor in obtaining my goal.
Now, the packing begins as I wait for closing day. The anticipation will continue to be very sweet.