The key from going from survival mode to intentional living is to make changes. Set a SMART goal today with these examples.

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Setting realistic goals
Setting realistic goals


Survival mode is not something I’ve only been in once and finally figured a way out of one day. It’s a recurring pattern of getting stuck and learning to live intentionally again and again.

Intentional living is a daily choice. Some days you succeed, others you grab a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and binge The Office.

I’ve noticed a trend in the times I’ve hunkered down into survival mode. It’s always during a big life change. For example:

  • Moving halfway across the country for college and then regretting it immediately
  • Becoming a newly wed and realizing that adulthood is a lot harder than it looks
  • Getting my first teaching job and being so insecure about my ability to succeed
  • Having my first baby and feeling like I would never get any sleep again
  • Being diagnosed with a controversial disease and thinking my life was over

Being stuck in survival mode is like prison. You feel like there’s no hope, no escape and it will always be like this. But you know what? These are all lies.

Fear keeps us imprisoned, hope gives us freedom. You know how I conquered all of these fears? I learned to quit my endless pity party (it’s ok to acknowledge these things are real and they are hard, but not to stay there), and make a change.

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. (I’m guilty of this!) So let’s make a few changes and see how it affects our results.

Setting realistic goals


If you’ve been digging into goal setting for any amount of time, you’ll probably have come across the term “smart goals”. A SMART Goal is actually an acronym for how to set a realistic goal so you can reach it. Here are the steps to setting (and reaching!) your next goal:

1. S – Specific

Make sure the goal you’re setting is detailed. You want to get as specific as you can. Try to answer the question: What specifically are you trying to accomplish? If you set a goal to read more, you are less likely to reach it than if you set a specific goal like read 20 books this year.

I love Goodreads for setting and tracking your personal reading goals!

2. M – Measurable

How will you measure your progress? Reading 20 books a year is a great goal, but you don’t want to to get to December and have 15 left to meet your goal! Break it down into milestones you can measure.

If you have 4 quarters in a year, then your measurable goal should be to read 5 books a quarter.

3. A – Attainable

Now ask yourself if this goal is doable. Do you actually have time to read 5 books a quarter? Where will you find the time for this activity? Maybe you reserve your weekends or early mornings for reading. Do you only read on vacation or can you use an audiobook while you clean the house?

You could add this to your reading goal: I will read 20 books this year by reading 5 books a quarter using Audible when I clean on weekdays and spend 2 hours reading on the weekend.

4. R – Relevant

Next you need to double check that your goal is relevant for the season you are in. Ask yourself: Is this the right time for me to be setting this goal? Is this where I want to focus my time and effort?

To continue using the reading goal example, did you set the goal to read more so that you can grow in wisdom by learning about important subject matters? Do you find that reading is a stress-reliever? Then this is a great goal!

If you find that reading only makes you procrastinate on what’s important or the material you read causes you more stress, then maybe this isn’t the goal you need right now.

5. T – Timely

Last, you want to set a target date to reach the goal so that you know when you’ve accomplished it. We did that already when we got really specific on our year end goal. The specific was to read 20 books instead of simply reading more. We were timely when we set the goal to do it in one year.

Setting realistic goals


Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • LOSE WEIGHT vs Lose 7 pounds (measurable) by cutting out sugar except for Friday night (specific) and working out for 30 minutes 3 days a week (attainable) by June 1st (timely) because I want to fit in my bathing suit for summer (relevant).
  • WRITE IN MY JOURNAL MORE vs Write one journal entry (measurable) in the morning at 7:00 am (specific) every day by setting an alarm (attainable) for the next 30 days (timely) so that I can learn my triggers for stress (relevant).
  • READ MY BIBLE MORE vs Listen to one chapter of the Bible (measurable) on an app every night (specific) while I do the dishes (attainable) and finish the book of Genesis by May 31st (timely) so that I can make a habit of regular Bible study (relevant).


If you’re in survival mode, that’s ok! But remember, life won’t always be like this, and you will get through it and see how far you’ve come. I’ve created a Goal Setting Workbook in addition to these SMART goal examples to help you take the first steps. You can order it in my shop:

For more posts on realistic goal setting, read:

You’ve got this!

Setting realistic goals