Looting From Friends

One of my new year’s resolutions this year was to make a dint in my reading list. Fellow avid readers
will be familiar with the ever-growing pile of ‘must have’ books that looks pretty collecting dust,
whilst taking a lifetime to actually be read. Mine had been growing for several years, between books
I purchased for my own growth, for ministry, for work, or books that I was given. That pile had long
reached the point of overwhelming when I decided,

‘That’s it! In the new year, I’m Reading more books!’

Now, because I’m well acquainted with the quickly fading new year’s resolution motivation, and my
day job is as a counselling social worker, I know that vague goals only get to vague results. It was
time to put my thinking cap on and use the SMART method.

S – Specific – What exactly are you looking to achieve?

I wanted to read more books and to read a variety of things that would interest me, not just study or
learning for ministry or for my profession. The priority would be my existing reading list, and if there
were other things that came during the year that were more appropriate for either the season I was
in, or based on a need skill that was needed, or just to take a break from one genre, then that would
become the next book on the list to read. In a way, it cut the line in the books list. That way I was
holding myself accountable to read that book next instead of just adding it to a growing list.

M – Measurable – How will you know you’ve achieved the goal?

I had to settle on a target number that would help me measure the success of the goal – I set a
benchmark of minimum 8 books this year, which was a bit more than 1 book every 2 months, but
not as high as 1 book a month. It meant that at the end of every month, I was asking myself honest
questions about, am I ¾ of the way through this read, and if not, why not? How do I shift my
priorities to meet my goal.

A – Achievable – What is and isn’t in my control?

When I looked at all the things that were projected in my year, there was definitely time for reading,
but it would mean being more diligent with my spare time and ensuring I had rest, leisure and time
for hard work. I set about creating routine that would allow for balance, but also some level of
flexibility should some unexpected challenge come my way or allow for occasional spontaneity. The
happenings of life shouldn’t stand in the way of our resolutions. I’m not a very fast reader, and this is
a limitation I needed to work with. For some 1.5months per book may seem like a lot more time
than required, for me, it’s what’s achievable when I look at what is in my control.

R – Realistic – Does the goal align with who I am and what my life looks like in the present? OR is my
head in the clouds?

I battled with setting the target at 8. I could have set it at 6, a nice clean one book every 2 months,
but it didn’t feel like quite the size of goal I was going for. Given the responsibilities I had, and taking
into consideration that the year never goes quite according to plan, 8 felt like a fun challenge
without it becoming a burden. In this season of life, my time is still very much my own, and I’ve
settled into my various roles. Adding breathing room into my plan meant that I could continue with
my resolution whilst also having some room to pick up an additional caring role for a loved one in
her dying days.

T – Timely – What time frame will you have?

I had a whole year ahead of me, and I broke it up into monthly progress check ins to ensure I was
averaging at least ¾ of a book at the end of every month. At the 6 months mark, I also checked my
reading list to see if I was reading the types of books I was enjoying and finding helpful. I realised I had been reading a lot to learn, and I also wanted to read to enjoy, so I added a new book to the list,
an autobiography that I had heard a lot about, and BOY, did I love it! That read, sparked my passion
for storytelling, and I managed to finish another biography that I had started a couple of years
earlier, and it motivated me to continue to read more.

This year of reading has been such a delight. At a time where I’ve been through my own personal
battles, lost a loved one, had some major highs, and a new shift in ministry – reading has provided
me with inspiration, comfort, and at times a break away from all that life has been. I feel like I raided
the author’s collection, looting them in amidst the storm of my life. It has drawn me into a deeper
relationship with God by discovering gems in so many pages. I hope your new years resolutions
brings you ever closer to our loving father; revealing further the glory of who he has made you to be.

Stina shares her new years resolution for 2023 to finally reading her book list, and how she implemented the acronym SMART to make her resolution a reality.

Written by Stina Constantine

Stina was born and raised a Norwegian and completed her Bachelor of Psychology and Master of Social Work in Australia. She is a Family & Relationship Counsellor (individuals, couples and children), and the former Young Female City Ambassador (Miss Wagga Wagga 2019) for Wagga Wagga, NSW. Stina also works with separated families and supporting TAFE NSW Students through their Education.

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