Let us be S.M.A.R.T. in our 2019 Resolutions!

Year-of-the-Youth-2019Ultimately, and changing the order of the three CBCP-cited key traits of the Filipino youth, being S.M.A.R.T. will yield more bountiful fruits if the youth will likewise humbly and trustingly B.E.G. for God’s graces so that he grows in awareness, acknowledgment, acceptance and assimilation of his being a beloved, empowered and gifted child of God that he truly is. After all, Jesus Christ Himself reminded us that “apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5); or more positively, as He inspired St. Paul to declare, “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me!” (Phil 4:13).  -- Rev. Fr. Peter EM Cabreros


We delight in your recognition of your being vital members of the Body of Christ, the Church. (CBCP Pastoral Letter for the 2019 Year of the Youth, 2 December 2018)

The preceding statement essentially begins the pastoral letter of the Catholic Conference of Bishops of the Philippines (CBCP) to announce the Year of the Youth in the Philippines for 2019. It recognizes the importance of every Filipino Catholic youth in mission due to three key truths: that they are beloved; that they are gifted and that they are empowered. Beloved, for Jesus Christ Himself said so long as they follow His commandments (cf. John 15:9 & 14:15). Gifted, especially for those who have received the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist), that enable them to be able to actually live the very life of God, to be with God and even become God as God wants us to become. And empowered, for each one has received a lot of gifts so that he can do a lot to help others --- so long as he first allows himself to be helped by God and others. These three key traits thus enable them to be an effective apostle in line with the desire of the Synod Fathers  to “continue the journey now in every part of the earth where the Lord Jesus sends us as missionary disciples” (Letter of the Synod Fathers, October 28, 2018).

What holds true for a Filipino Catholic youth can also hold true for every Filipino youth.

But a key question arises: how can a young person be an effective contributor to the mission of being an apostle, a witness to help bring back God’s loving presence to this world of 2019?

I propose to the youth of Dualtech (and to everyone else) five ways to do so. These five guides originated from a podcast of a Catholic convert and apologist, Dr. Taylor Marshall, as he proposed how to set one’s goals or resolutions and ensure achieving them. They make up the word, S.M.A.R.T. What does this word mean?

To frame its meaning within the context of beginning a new year, let me quote words from the Prelate of the Opus Dei Prelature, Monsignor Fernando Ocariz:

Each year that begins is a new opportunity—“a new year, a new struggle,” as Saint Josemaría [Escrivá] liked to say—to renew our eagerness to listen to God who speaks to us in our daily circumstances, to clean what clouds our vision and makes it hard for us to see Jesus. Let us strive to go forward in novitate sensus (Rom 12:2), with a new outlook, with a serene and joyful struggle, in order to get to know and love Christ better, and to welcome the gift of an ever new life: His life in us. (Mons. Fernando Ocariz, Pastoral Letter, 9 January 2019)

S.M.A.R.T. stands for “specific”, “measurable”, “actionable”, “realistic” and “time-bound”.
May these five ideas characterize our resolutions and comprise our new outlook for a new or renewed struggle in this new year we have just begun.

S” stands for “specific”. Oftentimes, our resolutions are rather well intentioned but vague. For example, “I want to improve my study habits”. Ok, but how exactly? A specific resolution can be the following: “As soon as I end my classes or work, I will study immediately every weekday when I arrive home” or “I resolve to immediately ask my teacher/mentor whatever it is that I do not understand in the lesson that day”.

M” stands for “measurable”. Following one example given above, it is even better to resolve: “As soon as I arrive home, the first thing I will do is to study one hour every week day”. It is helpful for us to measure how much do we dedicate our time to do something specific.

A” stands for “actionable”. Resolutions or goals cannot remain as mere desires or wishes. They must be carried out. For example, instead of resolving, “I want to be a better person,” better resolve, “I decide to offer my help to the people I live with as soon as I finish my school and house chores”. The old adage, “Actions speak louder than words,” applies most suitably here.

R” stands for “realistic”. For goals to be achievable, they must be realistic. And realism varies on the capabilities of each person. If one wants to improve one’s piety (relationship with God), one may best NOT to have as a goal praying the rosary daily if such a person has not even acquired the habit of praying daily much less, doesn’t even know how to pray the vocal prayers of the rosary. Our resolutions may be actionable or doable, but one has to make sure if oneself can actually or realistically be able to do them.

Lastly, “T” stands for “time-bound”. We all live in time. And therefore, any resolutions or goals we set for ourselves are best framed within time. But may we always consider it together with the four traits mentioned earlier.

Therefore, together with the encouraging reminder of the CBCP that the Filipino Youth are in mission due to their being beloved, gifted and empowered, we can be more effective if we are also S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound) in setting our personal goals and resolutions.

Ultimately, and changing the order of the three CBCP-cited key traits of the Filipino youth, being S.M.A.R.T. will yield more bountiful fruits if the youth will likewise humbly and trustingly B.E.G. for God’s graces so that he grows in awareness, acknowledgment, acceptance and assimilation of his being a beloved, empowered and gifted child of God that he truly is. After all, Jesus Christ Himself reminded us that “apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5); or more positively, as He inspired St. Paul to declare, “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me!” (Phil 4:13).

Let’s follow Him.

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