FOCUS missionary Andrew Wierdak offers students advice on keeping up with their faith lives over school breaks. Andrew is one of five missionaries at St. Peter Catholic Student Center.
It’s important to remember when setting goals for break to set goals that are SMART.
S – Specific
This should mean that someone can tell what you’re aiming at when you tell them your goal. Things like “grow in my faith” or “keep up my relationship with Christ” are disqualified from being SMART goals because they are too general. We know those are good things to do but they are not specific goals. See below for some helpful suggestions on specific goals.
M – Measurable:
Your goal should be something that can be recorded, like visits per week to the chapel for prayer, or number of minutes reading and exercising. Use a habit tracking app to make this easier!
A – Achievable:
Make your goals possible. Ideally a goal stretches you beyond your usual routine and comfort zone to encourage growth. However, it is not prudent to set a goal such as living a mini monastic life while home for winter break with 4 hours of daily prayer. That’s something we won’t be able to achieve 9 days out of 10.
R – Relevant:
Consider your station in life, the way God currently is calling you to serve others and His Church, as you make your goals. We want the goals we set to encourage growth and strengthening of virtue in those areas of life that are most important to our day to day activities.
T – Time Sensitive:
Make your goals quantifiable by time. While we hope to transcend the reality of time one day in the future, right now we are stuck on the timeline, which means we need to have goals that include a time-component. For example, 30 minutes of daily prayer, 45 minutes running on MWF, 20 minutes of spiritual reading before bed, etc.
- Tell your parents and family members about your goals and why your faith is so important to you. Ask for their help and encouragement in reaching your goals. They love you and want your good (even if they don’t fully understand it being achieved through your Catholic prayer life).
- Find an accountability partner to check in with on a regular basis.
- Listen to good podcasts and music while doing housework, exercise, and other physical activities. Podcasts to check out include Pints with Aquinas, Catholic Stuff You Should Know, Fountains of Carrots, Abiding Together, Fr. Mike Schmitz Homily Series, and Fr. Daniel’s sermons.
- Read a good book! Try Time for God by Fr. Jacques Philippe or Pope Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert.
- Combine activities to save on time. For example, get silent prayer in after daily Mass so you only have to make one trip to the chapel/church every day.
- Check out this list of resolutions that might be helpful in forming your break goals!
Taken all together, SMART goals can take time and planning to form. But the investment of time will be worth it when you make strong, relevant, challenging goals which will bring you closer to God while at home over break.