Have you given up on your goals and dreams and let others’ goals and dreams become yours? Do you constantly let life sidetrack you? Do you know how to practice deliberate avoidance?
Today we complete our series of posts about goal setting. While the other posts helped you dig deeply into the person you are, put your life and history into perspective, identify your talents and gifts, and discover how others see you, today you’ll learn some techniques for setting focused and achievable goals. You’ll discover ways to live life on purpose rather than in a reactionary, chaotic way. And with that will come success, peace, and a satisfying sense of accomplishment. So let’s get started!
Know where you’re going
First, you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’re going. Or, to put it another way: If you don’t know where you’re going then any train will get you there. I think you get the point. If your life has no direction, and you don’t know your final destination, then any ticket will do. But do you want just any old ticket and any old destination? How satisfying would that be?
A life story
I just returned from Hawaii, the land of my growing-up-years. I didn’t go there on a “Gee, I’d-like-to-return-to-Hawaii” whim. Last year, I got a strong sense that I needed to return. It was more than a sense, actually. I could feel the Spirit of God urging me to go, that I had work to do there. Work on myself.
It’s not as though it’s been a while since we’ve been back. For the last ten years, we usually return every couple of years. Several times I’ve returned for high school reunions. One year the engineer and I returned to renew our marriage vows on Waikiki Beach. But this year wouldn’t be packed with fun and games, or incorporate a lot of beach lounging.
Without going into detail, I had a rough childhood both mentally and physically. Spiritually, too. And all of these years later, I still have psychological demons running races in my head about all of it, a mental memory box loaded with regrets, shame, unhappiness, pain, resentment and anger. And as I approach my milestone birthday this month, I knew (after the Lord’s pressing) that I needed to slay those demons and get on with life. I needed to do some forgiving, ask for forgiveness, and return to the sites of some of the events to do the unloading.
So I told the engineer and asked him if he’d be interested in returning in late January/early February, to both accomplish those goals, experience Hawaii in the winter, and attend my school’s huge fundraising carnival to work in one of the food booths with other members of my class.
It didn’t take too much convincing. For years he’s been talking about traveling to Hawaii in February to see the humpback whales that make Hawaii their home from November to April. I warned him this trip wouldn’t be the vacationy type, but he agreed. Even said he’d hold my hand.
So we went, and I unloaded my baggage and started viewing life in a different way and seeing some of the events with a different perspective. I developed a deeper appreciation for some of the places I used to inhabit, and spent some serious time divulging my pain with a dear high school friend who I wanted to reconnect with on a deeper level. Some of it wasn’t pretty; most of it wasn’t easy. Oftentimes I was exhausted after the mental releasing. But it was a success. And I now feel more healed, refreshed and at peace. I feel as though the next chapter of my life can begin without the pitiful load I’d been dragging around all of these years. I feel free.
And the engineer got to see whales! Oodles of them. And the lunar eclipse, and a spectacular sunrise over the islands of Molokai, Maui and Lanai. Soon after sunrise the humpbacks puffed water spouts into the air, flipped their flukes, smacked them down on the water and even breached a few times for us. Water gushed up like Old Faithful geyser. The whales put on quite a show. And the engineer and I were content. We returned to our hotel room, took a short nap, went stand-up paddling and then floated around in the Waikiki Beach water for an hour or more, just watching the clouds and tourists. It was a great way to end the trip.
And now I’m back in my Southwest home, grateful that I accomplished my goals. I feel accomplished. I know in my heart that I was on the right path. I had the right ticket. I can finally embrace my history and the place I was raised.
But what if I planned to go to Hawaii, but, instead, the ticket agent put me on a flight to Canada, or Europe? Because I wasn’t specific about where I wanted to go. Because I told her any destination would do?
Nice places to go, yes, but why would I be going to those locations if I had work to do elsewhere. How would I have accomplished my goals in Canada or Europe? I wouldn’t have accomplished anything outside of sightseeing because I wasn’t supposed to be in those places, at that time. I had a purpose, and Canada or Europe weren’t in the plans.
I needed to formulate my goals, my plans and make my reservations. I needed to be intentional. And you do too.
Some of the specifics you need to keep in mind when you set goals are:
1. Be determined to stop letting life continually sidetrack you. Be more deliberate about your choices.
2. Practice deliberate avoidance, while leaving some room for intrusions that will bless you and others and grow you physically, emotionally and spiritually. God-ordained intrusions. (Avoiding things, people and activities that drain the life out of you and deter you from achieving your goals is critical to success.)
3. Learn to integrate you—your talents, gifts, and passions—into every area of your life.
4. Focus on increasing your peace, joy and happiness. Congregate around people of peace, those like-minded in your faith to re-energize and focus.
5. Pursue the right goals or focus points for you and your family. Unless you believe, or are sure, another person’s goals would benefit you, don’t be hasty about trying to duplicate them in your life.
6. Say no to things and people that dull your soul. (This includes what you read, watch and listen to.)
7. Make conscious, well thought-out decisions about your life and career.
8. Try to have a clear perspective on life—how you want and should use your talents, gifts, and energy.
9. Be intentional about what you do and how you do it.
10. Cultivate your gifts so you can glorify God, bless others, and know you’re running your race well.
These aren’t laws to live by but methods to use to live a more balanced, enjoyable, productive life. When you live that way you have the energy to give to good things, and, when you do get exhausted in the work, you still have a giddy sense of accomplishment and a deep satisfaction that you are living the life God wants you to live.
Now for the mechanics of specific setting goals:
1. Make the goal specific—not general.
Don’t just plan to lose weight. Write down how much weight you want to lose. Or what dress size you want to get to. Make it specific.
2. Make the goal measurable.
You’ve got to be able to put a number, or a date, on it. If you’re trying to save money for something, know exactly how much it costs, how much you can reasonably save per week toward the item (be realistic), and then set up an account (or piggy bank) to put those funds in. When our older son was little, he liked to save for Legos. BIG ones. So, I’d construct a goal graph with a stamp of a hot air balloon at the top. For every fifteen minutes of homework he did, without complaining, another section of the graph was colored in. (He got to do the coloring.) Those chunks represented actual money to him, which he would get from me when his goal was met. He could see his goal and how he was progressing. It’s a great mental motivator.
3. Make your goal attainable.
Can you really afford that brand new sports car you’re desiring? Are you really going to lose ten pounds of fat in one week? (Maybe, if you are deathly ill. Otherwise, it’s unlikely.) Since some medical professionals say losing a bundle of weight in a short period of time is harder on your heart than gaining it, this would not only be an unreasonable goal but a foolish one.
4. Write down your goal(s).
Research shows that people who write down their goals are more likely to accomplish them. 42% more! Keep a journal, write it down. Share it with someone else.
5. Have an accountability buddy.
Have a trusted person you can share your frustrations and goals and setbacks and successes with. You'll raise your success rate likelihood to over 70%!
6. Use tools if necessary, or possible, to help you.
Athletes use goal sheets and performance graphs. I used a financial goal graph with my son. I write down my daily goals in a notebook and check them off as I accomplish them. I have a focus for the year and write those down. When I tend to be general in my goal setting, like when I say I’d like to make a certain amount of money with my writing in a year without doing the math to figure out just exactly what I have to sell and at how much a word so I know what to focus on, I’m not as successful. Increase your chance of successfulness. Find tools you like and will use, and put them to work for you.
7. Plaster those goals around your house so they’re visible.
They’re great reminders as to why you do what you do, and what you’re working for. And don’t forget to assess at the end of each month to see what kind of progress you’re making, and make any necessary adjustments. Don’t quit, unless you’ve decided you really shouldn’t be pursuing that particular goal any longer. Just make adjustments, or see how your goal morphs naturally into something else.
Before we leave this topic, here are a couple more questions to ask:
1. What’s one big thing you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done? Maybe it’s no longer possible. If not, mourn it and bury it. If it is possible, then move on to the following question:
2. Why not? What, or who, is holding you back? And be honest about your answers. More than likely, you’ll discover the limiting factor to be you.
Upcoming Social Media Changes!
As a heads up to my readers, I will be taking a blogging break for about a month to celebrate my big birthday month and embark on a new goal the Lord has set before me to utilize my gifts in another way.
In mid-March, I’ll have a brand new website dedicated to helping you live better—emotionally, physically and spiritually. It will combine my health and fitness background with the important spiritual components, and I’ll be able to provide you with information about professionals who can help you delve more deeply into the psycho-emotional aspects of your life.
The blog posts will be more snack-sized, so you can read quickly and incorporate the tips more easily and effectively into your life. I’ll also let you know what’s going on in my inspirational writing world and direct you to books and articles I think you’ll find helpful in your quest to live a more balanced, happy life. I know you’re going to be just as excited about the change as I am!
At that time, this blog will revert to its original purpose—to help families recover emotionally, physically and spiritually after the loss of a baby at birth, soon after birth, or in pregnancy. Posts will be made monthly, with pregnancy news and updated research provided.
Keep checking in here, though. I’ll keep you updated with the progress and give you more information on what the website and blog will focus on.
New year, new decade, new season of life, new purpose. We all have them. What’s yours?
May you prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers (3 John 2).
Photos courtesy of Google Images and Andrea Arthur Owan