Are you a New Years Resolution kind of person? Have you created goals for the New Year already?
I am most certainly a goal oriented person. The life I have today is good, but I know I have gifts, talents, skills, and interests that could be used in bigger ways to make the world a better place. To me, life is a precious gift. We only get one shot here on earth before we head off into our eternity, so I feel we should do our best with the time we’ve been given. The actions we take, the impact we have, and the life we live now, will determine our eternity. It seems wise then to me, to use our time, talents, and gifts here on earth to the best of our abilities.
Goal Setting: Make the right goals
Different seasons of life call for different goals. I spent a lot of time working on taking care of myself last year, especially the last few months. There was a lot of time for rest and things that refresh me. I put a big focus on my health and exercise. And I didn’t have too many goals to achieve great and wonderful things, I just took care of me. Maybe you are in need of one of those kinds of seasons this year. Set goals that focus on taking care of yourself and your family. Goals that help you find rest instead anxiety. Do it guilt free, knowing that taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do to make a difference in your family, your community, and the world.
But for many of us, myself included, we have big dreams and goals for our future and we’re in a season of “go”. I’ve set some large goals for myself this year. My kids are getting bigger and a little less of a handful and my husband is finally done with school, so I know I’ll have a little extra time and energy to tackle some grand goals. If you’re with me, then don’t shy away from setting a great goal. Just pay attention to your life and what it’s telling you, and set goals that are right for you this season.
Having an idea about where you want to go in life is essential. But even more important than that is to have a plan. In the past, I think I’ve been like most people and I’ve dutifully created a list of goals to tackle. I’ve made sure to create them the “right way”, like all the experts recommend. They are “S.M.A.R.T.” goals, I’m dedicated and focused on them, and super excited to see what happens. And often, I meet my goals, but sometimes I don’t.
What I’ve discovered over the past year is that goal setting is the easiest part of goal achieving. Goal setting is step one of a long and lengthy process. Goal setting is like setting the table before a meal. The table might look really fancy, the anticipation might feel really exciting, others might pat you on the back for your lovely display, but if you never prepare the food, and then sit down to actually eat it, setting the table is a big huge waste of time.
Goals are exactly that, a big huge waste of time if you don’t follow the setting of the goals with the actual real, hard work.
As you contemplate the goals you want to set for yourself for yourself, think long and hard about your goals. Create the best, “smartest’ goals that you can. But don’t stop there.
The next stage of the journey is to actually create a plan. It’s fabulous that you want to workout 5 days a week, every week in 2016. But if you are currently not working out at all, and you have no plan for how you will get to working out 5 days a week, you’re very likely to fail somewhere close to week 3.
If you want to save $15,000 in the next year, that is an admirable goal. But wishing and hoping and praying to hit that goal won’t get you very far. You actually have to think about how to make that possible. Magic and miracles don’t work in goal setting.
Sub-goals: Break It Down
The first thing you may need to do is to break your big goal into sub-goals. If you’ve set a big, harry, scary goal for yourself, it is usually helpful to break that bad boy down a bit. Think about the milestones that will take place along your progress toward your big goal and write those down as your sub-goals. This way you’ll have have a way to easily measure your progress and celebrate your results along the way so you don’t get burned out on the long road of your journey to the big goal.
To Do List: Have a Plan
Next in the process is to create a to do list, an actionable plan to get you from today to the big goal achieving celebration day. If you’ve broken your big goal into sub-goals. Start thinking through each step needed to get you to your first sub-goal. Sometimes you might not know all of the steps that will be required. You might not know exactly how to do something, but you know you can learn it or figure it out. Add the learning as one of your steps.
The point in this stage is to do on paper what you need to do in real life to hit your goal. Think through the entire process, whether it’s a health goal, a money goal, a career goal, or something else, figure out a plan to actually achieve it to the best of your ability. The list may not be perfect. And as you start working through the list, you’ll probably find several things that need to be done differently, but if you want to get somewhere you’ve never been, you are wise to have a map, this is how you create your map.
Make your to do list as detailed as possible. If you have a money saving goal, you wouldn’t just break it down into smaller amounts of money that you want to save, think through what actually needs to happen to save the money. Do you need to learn how to use coupons? You may need to find a new budgeting software, learn the software, create a new budget, call the cable company to renegotiate a lower rate, sort through your basement for things to sell, hold a garage sale, and so on. Write all of those tiny steps down. If you can break it into tasks that can be done in an hour or less, you are probably on the right track.
Once you have your to do list of items, now is the time to schedule as many of them on your calendar as possible. If you’ve broken things down into tasks that take an hour or less, start plugging them into your calendar throughout the year as you know you will have time to complete them. You may need to move them around as the dates get closer, but do your best to map things out as well as possible, on your calendar. While you start scheduling things, you might even come up with extra tasks that need to be completed, this is good, keep adding and scheduling.
Goals without a plan won’t get you very far. A plan without a schedule is still only a dream. Goals that are mapped out on your calendar actually have hope to be achieved.
Going through the planning and scheduling process can help you discover important things about your goals, including how realistic they are, how much work they will take, if you’ve made too many goals for one period of time, or if they are actually things you can achieve. Be sure to rethink and adjust your goals accordingly if you recognize during the planning and scheduling stage that they need some work.
I recognize that not every step can be carefully scheduled on your calendar. You might now know how long something will take, you might not know exactly how to do a certain step, and you might not have a clear enough picture of your upcoming schedule this early in the year to know when to schedule some things. The point is to create a very actionable plan. One that, if followed through completely, will guarantee that you achieve your goal by the time you plan to. If you need to schedule milestones and due dates on your calendar, instead of specifically blocking out a certain amount of time, that can work too. Just make sure that your time frames are realistic and you have a way of tracking upcoming due dates well in advance to achieve the required steps.
Get Busy: Do the Work
And finally, once you have your goals broken down into sub-goals, which are broken down into step by step action items, which are then scheduled on your calendar, you get to work. This is the hardest part. It seems so easy, you just wake up and follow the schedule you’ve already created, right? Exactly! Except, life and kids and work and emergencies and everything else will try to sabotage your well ordered plans.
In order to achieve big things you have to have a well thought out plan, but you also have to have a commitment to yourself, God, others, whoever is necessary. I’ve heard someone describe that she considers herself to be the CEO of her life. She would never blow off the CEO of the company she works for, she would never show up late to commitments, or put in mediocre work if she committed to the CEO of the company that she would get something done. So, by considering herself as the CEO of life, she is able to honor her commitments, honor her schedule, and put in the work required to reach her goals.
This thinking might work for you. Personally, I must not honor and like myself as much as she does and I need somebody bigger than myself to motivate me to get my work done. So I’ve resorted to reminding myself that God is CEO of my life. He has guided me to this work and who wants to blow off God and put in mediocre work when He’s watching?
Whatever works for you, find out a way to commit to someone worth the honor of putting in the work required to reach your goals. It’s going to be hard. You’re going to want to give up or be lazy, but commit to yourself, commit to God, commit to your family, and get working.
Front and Center: Make Sure You See the Plan
Goal achievement takes a daily focus. Print out your goals and sub-goals and tape them somewhere you will see them all the time, pull up your calendar several times a day and keep your plan at the front of your mind. When you miss a deadline or something takes longer than expected, readjust and reschedule, but keep plugging forward. Achieving goals isn’t easy, but the results can be amazing.
You’ve dreamed big dreams for this year. You’ve set goals for yourself that excite you and get you out of bed in the morning. You can do it. Create a plan, commit to your plan, and put in the work. This year will be amazing. Show up and live it.
And if that whole waking up excited to get out of bed in the morning sounds like a foreign concept to you, may I recommend the 14 day online course by Crystal Paine called, Make Over Your Mornings. I struggled to get out of bed for most of the past year. I though I was excited about my goals, but this course taught me how to really get behind the goals that I’ve set for myself, get organized, and truly set myself up for success. The results have been incredible. You can complete the course at your own pace, and the work in the course takes just 15 minutes a day. And the best news, the course is currently on sale through January 8th, for just $9.