A pile of books rests on the weathered plank coffee table. A steaming cup of coffee and a slew of colorful pens add to the mix. Quiet music plays and I'm itching to begin. It's a goal planning day.
I have always been a dreamer, looking to the end and getting lost in the details. Every January I would be ready for a fresh start and motivated to change everything. With my vision in mind I would get started. When I hit the end of January and saw no progress I would be discouraged and give up. This would happen year after year. One year I was so intensely frustrated by the lack of progress in my life that I decided I needed a guide for the year. I heard a message on goal planning at the same time and I knew that was what I would do.
Goal planning has become something I can't live without. Over the past four years I have intentionally made space to do this. It has become my lifeline throughout the year to keep a pulse on the things I want to work towards. I have been able to break down these giant goals and see small changes. For a dreamer who struggles in the details, tracking goals keeps me motivated for the entire year because I can visually see the progress I have made.
Every worthwhile thing in this life takes time. With the focus that comes from setting my goals I have turned the everyday routine into an adventure. Each morning there are things to do that bring me closer to the dreams I have for myself and my family. My eyes are not constantly directed at the future, instead I am living just for today.
On January 1st, my husband and I do intentional goal planning as a couple. We bring to the table everything we are thankful for from the previous year and then we share our individual goals with each other. Family goals are created and quarterly check-ins are scheduled. It is my favorite way to start the year.
Goals are a flexible structure built into our lives that regularly ebbs and flows with each season.
Life is not orderly. If goals are set up in a rigid formation, the first unexpected thing that happens will weaken one of the walls. The next time a checkpoint is missed because a child is sick another section crumbles. Discouragement sets in and all of the work that was done is forgotten and set aside. Another year goes by with dreams in the distance.
To avoid rigidity and failure we check in with each other each quarter. Some goals are dropped, others might be added, and we remember some goals that we may have forgotten about. This flexibility gives us grace to try again or to let go when necessary.
People ask me all the time how I do all of the things I do. Goal planning is a huge part of it. I also say no to a lot of good things because they might not be the best things in the current season I'm in. Goals help me decide what is best to say yes to.
Here are some simple steps to start the year with intentional goals.
- Set aside a couple hours alone to write down what you want to happen this year. Brainstorm everything, let it all come out.
- Look for themes in your brainstorming. Would some fit together into one goal?
- Write down your top 5 goals to work on for the year. Some of mine for the year include learning how to study the bible, creating authentic friendships, and living a healthier lifestyle.
- Break down large goals, most of them probably are, into monthly and weekly goals.
- Create a daily habits list for small changes. For example, drink 8 glasses of water each day or pray before I look at my phone.
- Stay flexible and check in quarterly.