For 15 days, we’re exploring the topic of making our health and well-being a priority as part of the 15 Days to a Healthier You series. You can read Day 1 here, Day 2 here, Day 3 here, and Day 4 here.
My husband is a world class goal-setter (well, in my book, at least!). He has goals for everything pretty much — from what he eats, to what he reads, to his personal fitness, to investing in the lives of our marriage and family, to our businesses, to giving to others, to making an impact on the world… and on and on it goes.
He has detailed checklists in Evernote to track his goals and he meticulously checks his goal lists weekly to see where he’s at and how much progress he’s making.
I was born with a very task-driven, to-do-list oriented personality, so goal-setting is something that I’ve always aspired to and been attracted to. However, for years, I struggled to actually set realistic, attainable goals.
Not only does my over-achieving personality have the tendency to set huge, impossible goals, but I also have a very-easily-distracted personality.
I Have Great Intentions… And Then, Squirrel!
You see, while my husband is a world-class goal-setter; I’m a world-class starter. He’s very detailed and methodical. I’m the get-‘er-done sort of girl.
So when I see something that should be done or I think should be started or I think I should do or I think is a great idea, my tendency is to just jump out and start. My motto tends to be something like: Stop waiting around researching and weighing your options and just jump in and do something.
This motto is fantastic in many ways. I do get a lot done. I don’t waste a lot of time thinking through all the options and ramifications. And I don’t spend a lot of energy stressing over which choice I should make.
I just pick something and dive right in. The only problem is that while I’m really great at diving in, I’m not so great at actually swimming all the way to the finish line.
Oh, trust me, I have incredible intentions. But then there’s shiny thing after shiny thing after shiny thing that distracts me from staying focused on my original plans and goals.
So pretty soon, I see another pool or another lane that looks like it’s a better option, so I go dive right into that and start swimming. I plan to make it to the other side of that pool or finish that swim in that lane but then I see another, better pool or lane, so I then dive into that one. And on and on it goes.
Over the past 13 1/2 years that I’ve been married, as I’ve observed my husband’s goal-setting, read books on goal-setting, and experimented with goal-setting in my own life, I’ve come to realize how life-transforming goal-setting can be — when done the right way.
I learned that I had to stop setting these huge goals, stop being overwhelmed by all the possibilities, and start getting really honed in on what was realistic for me in the season of life I was in… and then I had to create an action plan with tiny baby steps that would take me exactly where I wanted to go.
3 Do’s & Don’t’s of Goal-Setting I’ve Learned
1. Don’t Be Intimidated!
You probably have heard many people tout the importance of goal-setting by now, but you feel like you just can’t seem to get it. Like everyone else has mastered this goal-setting thing… except you.
Well, trust me, you’re not alone. I hear from readers every single week who feel overwhelmed by goal-setting or who feel hopelessly stuck in a rut or who feel like they just can’t figure out how to get started with goal-setting.
Maybe you feel like you have so many things you want to do with your life that the thought of even knowing where to start is mind-boggling. Maybe you have set goals in the past only to fall short so you feel defeated when it comes to goal-setting. Maybe you just don’t even know where it is you want to go and or what it is you want to aim for.
Don’t be intimidated! I know exactly how you feel because I was there twelve years ago!
2. Don’t Be Overwhelmed!
I wanted so badly to figure out how to follow through with all of my big dreams and plans and ideas, but I just couldn’t seem to get any traction. Oh, I had lots and lots of big dreams. But when it actually came down to going anywhere with them, most of them just fizzled out and lost steam because I didn’t know how to break those big dreams down into tiny step-by-step pieces.
It’s so easy when you start considering goal-setting to become overwhelmed by all the areas in your life you feel are in desperate need of change.
From being a better wife and mom, to becoming more organized, to losing weight, to getting your finances in order, to starting a business or blog, to writing a book, to learning a new skill, to starting a new ministry or being involved in one that’s already existing, to eating more healthfully, to learning to cook from scratch, to cutting your grocery bill, to experimenting with do-it-yourself ideas, to remodeling part of the house or redecorating a room, to being more involved in your church or community… and on and on the list goes.
We women have so many responsibilities on our plates and we have dreams, ideas, and all sorts of things we’d love to do if we could ever find an extra ten hours in our day. But the reality is that those extra ten hours probably aren’t going to be falling from the sky any time in the near future. So we must work with what we have — and do the best we can with that.
3. Do Determine Your Priorities
Think about what your priorities in life are. What are those things that you want to wrap your time and energy around? Where do you want to be in six months from now?
Think of a few areas that will have the biggest impact on your life. If you’re not sure what to start with, consider which areas are the greatest stress-inducers right now. Is it your weight? Is it your lack of organization? Is it your finances? Do you want to get more organized? Or get on a better schedule? Or increase your income? Or make time for fitness?
I have 4 areas that I’m really focusing on this year: my marriage, my mothering, myself, and MoneySavingMom.com. I’m aiming to wrap my life, my time, and my energy around those priorities. If an opportunity arises, if it doesn’t fall in line with those priorities, then I’m more than likely going to say no to it.
To be honest, I have a lot of other areas in my life that could use improvement. I can either focus on all the things I want to do and all the improvements I want to make and all the areas I feel like I’m failing in, or I can choose to say: I only have time and space in my life to focus on a few things so I’m going to make those a priority and let a lot of other things slide.
None of us can do it all and we can’t do everything in every season. When you know your priorities, it allows you to create goals that are realistic.
It’s amazing how much of a difference goals can make in your life when you don’t just set them, but then you also actually follow all the way through with them! I’ve been amazed at how much more productive and intentional I’ve been in my own life.
Instead of being really busy but having little to show for it, goal-setting has helped me to be much more purposeful in how I spend each and every day. In addition to accomplishing many more things that actually matter, I’m living a much more fulfilled life.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk very practically on how to set realistic goals and create a plan of action to help you follow through with them. You can do this! I’m cheering for you!
Day 5 Project
- What are some of the roadblocks holding you back from success in goal-setting? Really think through this and then tell us in the comments.
- What are your priorities in this season of life? This should be a small list of the few most important things you want to wrap your time, life, and energy around. Tell us what these are the comments.
Want Step-By-Step Goal-Setting Help?
Need some encouragement to create realistic goals and follow through with them? Go check out our 4-Week Make Over Your Year Course.
This 4-week course includes a comprehensive downloadable workbook, printable worksheets to walk you step-by-step through the goal-setting process we’ll teach you, additional resources and links for each week, and 4 one-hour-long pre-recorded Group Coaching Sessions taught by my husband and me.
It’s just the gentle kick-in-the-behind you need to actually be successful in goal-setting!
More Helpful Resources:
- Download a free copy of The Best Kept Secret to Being a Goal-Setting Rockstar.
- Read my posts on 4 Things That Will Keep You From Goal-Setting Success and How to Avoid Becoming Overwhelmed With Goal-Setting.
- Pick up a copy of The ONE Thing Book and my 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life ebook.
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