I am a professional starter. I start stuff. I get really excited about it. And then I fizzle. I actually really dislike this about myself. And it’s time to work on it. Like, really work on it.
So I chose a theme for my year:
I have this printed out and stuck to my computer so I see it every single day. “Stick to your task ’til it sticks to you; beginners are many but enders are few.” (card design is from the Midnight digital Project Life kit. I added the text).
Now before anyone thinks I’m about to get all self-helpy on them, I’m not. Well I guess I sort of am. But stick with me. This is change your life story stuff.
In conjunction with my new tradition of starting the year with a theme (see, starting stuff–help me), I have also decided this is the year I’ll tackle goal setting. Dun dun dun. I intentionally waited until after the year started to write this post. Goals are not beholden to the month of January. I started this whole process months ago. I have never been a goal setter in the hard core sense of the word. I’m not even talking about big goals. Just goals in general. I never write them down. Just leave them floating around in my head. And I often don’t finish/accomplish many of them because I’m not a finisher, remember.
I read. A lot. And there’s one thing I hear over and over and over. SET GOALS. And, this is a big and, WRITE THEM DOWN. There’s obviously a lot more to the process, but that’s how it starts. It starts by making the goals in the first place AND writing them down.
I don’t feel qualified to talk extensively about this process since it is my first real year of doing it (I’ve set goals before, but I’ve never been this deliberate or thoughtful about the process–just so we’re clear I’m not a total slacker). But I wanted to share a few things I’m doing to hopefully inspire and help a few of you to join me.
Along with being a professional starter, I’m also a professional over-researcher. I like to be prepared. Over-prepared. I would study for days on end before every test in school. When I start something, I read, research, watch, listen to, ask, ANYthing I can relating to what I’m starting. Some people might call it procrastinating. I call it “I have to know every last detail about what I’m about to do”.
So before I began the process of coming up with and writing down my goals, I naturally found some resources to help me make this a more meaningful and useful process. I hate reading vague stuff that tells you what to do but now how to do it. So I looked for things that helped me take action.
This has not been a quick or rushed process for me. Because I haven’t previously been an intentional goal setter basing my goals around my “why”, I wanted to make sure I was going through a process that was going to work. It has taken me weeks, not minutes, to work through all this.
My first resource was “Storyline: Finding your subplot in God’s story” by Donald Miller. I’m not gonna lie, that book is expensive as far as books go. But it’s a practical guide full of action steps and information to help you CREATE a better life story. And it played a huge role in my efforts to figure out where I’m going, what story I’m creating with my life, and why I’m creating it. I’ve gone through it 3 times now.
The next was “Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live on Purpose” by Lara Casey. I’ve been following Lara for years online. She’s the real deal. So much wisdom and guidance. And she doesn’t just tell you what to do, she shows you how to do it. Walks you step by step through the process of setting goals.
And the third resource I’ve been using is “The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business” by Charles Duhigg. I’m only half-way through this book but it’s fascinating to learn what a critical role habits play in our life. Seemingly small habits can actually change our entire life through the “trickle down” effect they can have.
And if you haven’t listened to my friend’s TED talk, it fits perfectly with this book. They both confirm the absolute necessity for establishing good, healthy habits so we can use our energy for things that matter most.
I’m also drawing on a few other resources, but these are the main ones that have helped me figure out what goals I want to go after this year.
So the next question is: to share or not to share when it comes to our goals? Do we keep them to ourselves (but write them down of course) or do we share them with someone we trust. Or, do we share them publicly or online to really hold ourselves accountable. I’ve generally heard sharing goals makes people feel more accountable to do them, but this TED talk by Derek Sivers has me thinking maybe not.
Regardless, I’m still going to share just a few of mine. Simply because I find it interesting to hear other people’s goals.
I broke my goals down into different areas of life: Home, Family, and Personal. And then some sub-categories within each of those. I tried to keep the goals simple, and to a minimum. I was realistic, but ambitious. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, and Timely.
One of my goals for my family is to Meal Plan. For the love, why is this so stinking hard for me?? I hate doing it. And I’m not even sure why (except for maybe that I don’t particularly love to cook). But I am a HUGE believer in eating meals together as a family. And we’ve been working to slowly transition our family over to eating healthier. In order to do that, you HAVE to plan. So Meal planning is a big goal for this year. And my husband’s on board so I’m hoping that helps. (Anyone have tips they want to share with me on how to get this done?)
And a few of my personal goals:
Physical goal: Do a triathlon. This is actually my “scariest” goal I’m setting this year. I’m not super comfortable in water (without a life jacket on) and I don’t own a road bike. So I have my work cut out for me on this one. But for some reason, it just won’t leave me. I’ve been thinking about this for months and months and it’s time to DO instead of think. Please pray I don’t drown.
Spiritual goal: Read the Bible from start to finish. As a Christian, I feel like I probably should have already done this. 2015 is the year.
Business goal: Finish creating and launch my online photography course helping moms capture the everyday stories of their family through photographs. This is a labor of love and I believe in this course and the importance of it SO much. So excited for this one to become a reality.
I also have a goal to create more habits. I’ve never been a big stick-to-the-schedule, have a routine kind of girl, but I’m realizing more and more how helpful and necessary systems and schedules are to creating a more calm and peaceful life. Mapping out what my “ideal” day would look like. How the mornings would go. How the after-school chaos would go. How the evenings and bed-time routines should look. I have to start somewhere. Small things can turn into big things. Small habits can literally change our days. And our stories.
The bottom line for me, is I have to start with Why. WHY am I doing what I do? WHY do I have the goals I have? WHY do I want to accomplish them. Why. Why. Why. Because if I have a STRONG ENOUGH “Why”, I can figure out and get through any “How”.
If you’ve never set or written down goals before, maybe it’s time. Time to make things more than a vague reality floating around in your head. Time to do all those things you’ve wanted to do. It’s worth the effort. I’m actually really excited about all of this. Which isn’t surprising because I’m always excited when I start something. But I’m working so so hard to get this all to stick. To stick to my task until it sticks to me. I’m determined more than ever to be a finisher.