This is the first in a set of 3 posts on how we can take small steps consistently. For a road map of where we’re headed see my previous post. Today, I want to look at setting goals.
Why We Should Set Goals
I normally associate goal setting with especially ambitious and driven people, the kind who run marathons or wake up every day at 5 am. But here’s why setting goals is important even for us more normal folks: goals help us reflect on how we want to use our time.
Without goals, it’s easy for weeks, months, or sadly even years to pass by without us noticing. Instead, we settle into familiar routines. We get caught in unhealthy cycles of busyness and distraction, either straining to stay on top of deadlines or turning to entertainment for superficial rest. It may feel like we’re doing a lot, but in reality, we’re only treading water.
Setting goals, no matter how small, forces us to pick a direction and start making our way there. It forces us to actively reflect on how we’re living and how we want to grow going forward.
So, what should kind of goals should we set for ourselves? You probably have a couple ideas in mind, but here are a few questions to point us in the right direction:
- Am I being faithful in the roles and responsibilities that God has given me?
- What have I been avoiding or procrastinating on?
- What important tasks, responsibilities, or relationships have I been neglecting because they don’t seem immediately urgent?
- What are some bad habits I’ve been wanting to break? Healthy habits I’ve been wanting to build?
Your goals can be big or small, serious or more lighthearted and fun. The main thing is you intentionally reflect and decide how you want to use your time.
A Few Strategies Going Forward
I’m no expert (quite the contrary actually) so take everything I say with a grain of salt. But here are two strategies that I’ll be trying to start the new year.
#1: Set shorter-term goals
The idea of setting shorter-term goals (2-3 months) rather than year-long resolutions, for example, is we’re less likely to procrastinate until the last few months of our alloted time period. It’s also easier to forecast our schedule and responsibilities over a shorter period of time, so we can better plan for obstacles and distractions (HT: my brother). I’ve tried setting 3 month goals before, but found even that felt too long for me. So to start the year, I’m going with every two months.
I won’t list my goals here, as some are more personal than others, but hopefully I can detail my progress (or even my failures) for a few of them in future posts.
#2: Write out a short plan for each goal
Often, our goals are things we’ve tried before but without much success (going to the gym or writing consistently, for example). We should reflect and learn from those past failures before blindly rushing in with the same poorly-conceived strategies. Here’s a short template I’ll be using for each of my goals:
- What is the current status of this project/goal? What obstacles and patterns of failure have you recognized from previous attempts?
- What solutions can you try to address these obstacles? Why do you think they will work?
Hopefully, by examining past struggles, we can plan better solutions. If it really is something completely new, these questions can help you anticipate possible difficulties.
That’s all for now! Next, we’ll look at having a task-management system.