I spent the last weekend of February looking back and looking forward: looking back at how life is happening and looking forward to where God is leading us. I don’t want goals to only be a New Year’s topic in my life. This is the only life I have and I want to spend my energy on what God has given me to do. I want my hands in the work God has given me and goals help me shape our rhythms and days.
Maybe we all need a little of that in March and not just in January so I’m going to share some goal-setting ideas and updates throughout the year so that I don’t forget and so you don’t think it’s the wrong time of the year for goals.
We need grace and grit in pursuing our goals. When I revived from the flu most of February was over and there were a few goals that I hadn’t touched. One of them was decorating the walls in our bedroom. None of my other ideas had played out so I started looking at what I had. And what I had was a collection of picture frames. So I printed pictures and made a gallery walls. Then I printed and framed my Valentine printable and hung it over our dresser. Finally I hung my January Crafter’s Box project above our bed. (It’s probably my favorite part because it’s the most unexpected.) So there’s a place to push.
We also had a budget meeting planned for the week I was sick. It got pushed back to the next Tuesday because, hello, last day of the month, and I really wanted to slide that highlighter through that goal on my notecard. That night, however, Justin and I were both exhausted and he asked if we could do it on Thursday. My first reaction (which thankfully I contained) was “absolutely not, we have to do it tonight. The highlighter! The notecard!” I quickly realized that was ridiculous and said, “Of course we can!” and went on about my life. There’s room for grace in these goals. You are in charge of them; they just help keep you in line.
- Set goals for new things to work on, not all the things you are already doing. I carry this same concept over to my planner. There are some recurring items that I put in my planner. But I don’t write “cook breakfast” or “clean up kitchen before bed” because those things will happen. If you already have the habit, just do maintenance unless it becomes a problem. As you add habits they can fall off the goals list because you will start to do them without thinking. (But for some things I totally need the motivation of drawing a line through the task in my planner.)
- Build more of a rhythm, less of a routine. This allows fluidity in your schedule. This means you can toss things to the wind if you get an unexpected pretty day in February and spend it outside. That means you can drop an afternoon work session to take food to a sick friend. Having a rhythm instead of a regimented routine will also help keep you from being bored because you can adapt to what’s going on.
- Be willing to change your goals. One of my February goals was to finish my cartoon class. I soon realized that wasn’t going to happen. But I did make consistent progress on the cartoon class and that’s what I’m really after. I could have been so fixated on the actual goal that I missed the point: doing the work. You might get into March and realize one of your goals needs adjusting or just isn’t realistic and needs to go. Let it go. The goals are supposed to help you focus, not run your life.
- Put them where you can see them. I have my monthly goals in my planner and hanging on a board in my office. The refrigerator or a bathroom mirror would also be a great place. Otherwise, guess what happens? You forget all about them and the whole month goes by and you realize you didn’t do any of that work. Don’t do that. Get them written down and in front of your face.
- Build them off your yearly goals. Have a purpose for your life. I know what I’m working on in this season of life and it drives my goals. I could set some amazing sounding goals that have nothing to do with where I am in life and they wouldn’t help me at all. Don’t set goals all willy-nilly.
Goal-setting is a year-round process. Break it down into weeks and days. I have a Get To Work Book (that I love) and it has a place for three weekly goals. It also has a spot for your three most important tasks of each day. Do life on purpose; don’t let it just happen to you.