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If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.

Most people want to do amazing things with their life. Very few actually do.

Why is that?

Well, I believe one of the biggest reasons people don’t get where they hope to go–or don’t really get anywhere in life!–is because they don’t set goals. Goals bridge the gap between dreams and reality.

It’s fairly easy to brainstorm. It’s very easy to day dream. It’s hard to get on your work clothes and get busy. But if you don’t know where you’re going in the first place, it’s almost guaranteed you’re never going to make it there.

How Goal-Setting Has Changed My Life

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 running his business, to giving to others, to making an impact on the world.

When we got married, I had toyed with the idea of setting goals, but being the over-achiever I am, if I ever set goals, they were these huge impossible things that just set me up for defeat from the get-go. So I rarely actually got very far in my goals.

Over the past nine years, 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. In fact, as I’ve learned how to set goals and how to follow 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.

Don’t Be Intimidated!

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.

Do not be intimidated! I was pretty much a goal-setting failure nine years ago. 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.

Over the next two weeks, we’re going to be exploring goal-setting in-depth here. I’ll be sharing things I’ve learned over the past nine years and walking you through how to set goals in your own life and then how to actually follow through with them–and not get defeated or become overwhelmed in the process.

Are you ready to join me?

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52 Comments

  • Kacie says:

    You are amazing at setting goals. Seriously. From the weekly goals to the BHAGs, it’s just inspiring!

    I think no matter your financial state, it’s worth identifying goals.

    For awhile after we paid off our last consumer debt and had our emergency fund, I was like…well, now what? We’re just living.

    But really, we’d be better off to have tangible financial goals anyway, like specific amounts to save in the 529 plans and saving for other things, and paying down the house.

  • Ahhh Mom says:

    Great post. Over the last few months I’ve learned to love setting goals… and accomplishing them 🙂

  • Charissa says:

    Ready to join you, Crystal! Thank you for this upcoming series. I’m excited to learn and implement that which I learn!

  • Tricia says:

    I am so ready to join in this process. I’ve made a few goals for this year and so far I’ve been sticking to them. I have my goals posted on the fridge and in my closet door so that I will be reminded often about them and to stay motivated too. Your blogs have been so helpful, encouraging and really inspiring. Thanks for blessing my life 🙂

  • Heather passalaqua says:

    I need this so badly!!! I am sooooo ready

  • Looking forward to this series Crystal. I have been taking a hard look at my both my goals, my expectations and my heart focus. Those things change as the seasons of my family changes. I blogged about it here:
    http://www.goingthrifty.com/2012/01/16/goals-for-2012-in-a-round-about-sort-of-way-part-2/.

    I am certainly a work in progress. Thankfully.

  • Amanda says:

    OOOO I’m very excited about this upcoming series. I desperately need help in the goal setting…goal achieving department.
    Can’t wait!

  • Lynn says:

    I’m all in! I have set (and written) my goals for the year but am having trouble focusing and working on most of them. I just can’t seem to find the motivation. So, I am hoping that following along with you here will help me find my mojo again!

  • Jacquelyn C says:

    Yes! Thank you for doing this. I’ve not really set realistic goals before so I am so excited about this. I’ve been realizing over the past couple of weeks that something has to change because what I’m currently doing is not working. I definitely think setting some goals will help me get to where I want to be! Thanks so much!

  • BethB says:

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    We’re in the middle of some Big Changes in our lives, mostly a huge career change for me, so my husband and I have spent a lot of time recently talking about goals. Not about what ours are specifically but how we should go about setting them. We’re in the arts (well, he works in corporate American but has an art degree) so we struggle with the ideal vs. the real in terms of goal setting. For me in particular it’s difficult because I’ve experienced some very painful setbacks some of which were because of things within my control some not. When you’re in a field where it’s highly probably you won’t acheive your goals it’s hard not to get discouraged and paralyzed. In looking to get out of my current field I’m struggling because the things I want to do, like become a professor, are extremely unrealistic given the kind of life we want for our family let alone the financial repercussions.

    I’m not trying to sound negative, because that’s not how I feel. Clearly there are other paths I can follow and ways I can fill my cup, so to speak. The journey we’re on right now is trying to figure out what they are within the framework of our overall life goals. Does that make any sense? As with anything, it’s a process and I’m looking forward to it.

    • Rachael Waller says:

      I am! I’ve walked in two 5K’s, but this year, I’m determined to RUN in one. I’ve been working on increasing the running bit by bit, and it’s amazing how well it’s working.

  • I agree that setting goals is essential. Goals help to keep me focused and heading in the right direction. Otherwise, I find myself just kind of spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.

  • Love this post! I am great at setting goals, but I tend to make them “easy” ones to achieve. This year I am stepping out of my comfort zone and creating some much bigger, more exciting goals!

  • Blaire says:

    yes! very excited to read more!

  • Rachael Waller says:

    Have you thought about taking on an assistantship? I did this for three years while working on my Ph.D. The pay is adequate, but the school paid for all of my tutition. We cut a lotcorners, but were able to do it with only accumulating a small amount of debt.

    • BethB says:

      Is that directed at me?

      I had assistantships at both schools I was at for my Master’s degree as well as my post-graduate studies and the DMA program I dropped out of after 6 weeks. 🙂 In my current life situation, as a mother of two small children, it would be very difficult to take on an assistantship considering the closest schools with DMA (or PhD programs if I chose another field) are 1.5-2 hours away. Either Madison, WI or Chicago. Neither commute appeals to me. 🙂

      Becoming a professor in my field isn’t a realistic choice because there are maybe 3-4 job openings during any given year. Even if I was somehow able to land them my family is not in a position where we are willing/able to move to places where my husband may not be able to find a job.

      If I chose another field it would be even more complicated. I would likely have to take a year or two of undergraduate courses to even qualify for a master’s program since my music degrees didn’t give me a very well rounded education. Then there’s the actual master’s degree and the PhD. I’m 38 years old now. With all that work ahead of me plus my family I would likely be close to 50 before I completed all that schooling. Finding a tenure track position at that age is unlikely and investing all that time to become an adjunct professor somewhere doesn’t seem wise.

      Again, I’m not trying to be negative. Just realistic. 🙂 However, I do think there are other possibilities for me that I don’t see right now.

      • Sarah says:

        Just wanted to say that my dad was in a similar dilemma when I was young. He left the military after 12 years of active duty and went back to school to pursue a Ph.D. in History, with the goal of being a professor (which had always been his dream). When he left the army, I was just finishing kindergarden, and I’m the oldest of four kids (all of us born as “army brats”).

        He and Mom worked odd jobs for years with four little kids, keeping us out of daycare, barely making ends meet, and racking up student loans that they’re still paying on at age 60. Dad kept in the Army Reserves, did assistantships and the like. Mom delivered newspapers while the kids slept, took in neighbor kids, and worked at a bookstore on the weekends. After 9 years, Dad had a completed Masters degree and had finished all his Ph.D. coursework, had passed the orals and the written exams and was ready to start on his Ph.D. dissertation.

        Then Dad had a bicycle accident while training for his physical fitness check for the Army Reserves, when tire of his street bike got caught in the grate of a storm drain while going quite fast down a hill. He broke his skull in 3 places, and if he hadn’t been wearing a helmet probably would have died or at least be paralyzed.

        He did a lot of thinking about his life and what he really wanted during his physical recovery. He decided that after years of graduate school politics, he was no longer interested in being a professor. The student loan debt was only growing, and his 4 kids were now 9-15 years old.

        He did some research, and since he had 2 master’s degrees he could make enough money as a California high school teacher to pay the bills quite well. So he started subsitute teaching while he earned his teaching credential, and he had a full-time job as a high school teacher within a few months (provisional while he finished his teaching credential). The high school he teaches at is a “continuation” high school in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. He loves it. His military background and wide breadth of knowledge about history, science, and multiple languages is perfect for his little 4-classroom school teaching parolees, pregnant girls, and other kids getting their last chance at a high school diploma. He never would have imagined that this would be his dream job, but it’s given his life purpose (and a fresh perspective on his 4 teenagers!) that he never would have had as a college professor.

        My point is, Beth, that there’s probably an option you haven’t yet considered that would be as fulfilling, or perhaps moreso, a being a professor. Keep looking and keep your heart open, and you’ll find it!

  • Victoria says:

    I think I am going to get a lot out of this series. I am a big goal setter, as in BIG GOALS, but no idea how to break them down into steps. I often make too many goals all at once. I am looking forward to learning more about setting realistic goals.

  • I’ve created several goals for 2012 and would love some more tips and encouragement to make them a reality.

  • Kelli says:

    Sounds great!! I’m in!

  • Michelle says:

    I am finally ready to take my organization to the next level with weekly goals. I see the progress you make and realize it is largely due to having such a clear plan. Even if not everything gets crossed off, you still make such an impact on your progress.

    I am excited to read more!

  • Lisa says:

    I’m so excited about this upcoming series. Thank you for your encouragement and honesty! It’s so nice to know you weren’t just born knowing how to do this, because it gives me hope that I too can learn. I’m a perfectionist, and tend to get overwhelmed and talk myself out of doing anything before I even begin.

  • YES!! You have said to so perfectly!! I am creating a community of people out to make a difference in their own live and the lives of others…I blog about it here: http://www.extraordinary-u.blogspot.com/

  • Emily says:

    I can not wait for this Crystal. You have been a big inspiration to me in setting goals again in my life. I had gotten away from it, mainly after having kids, because life just got so busy. But the last 2 years, I’ve set goals for myself again after being inspired by you.

  • Christal Beyer says:

    Crystal,

    I second Emily’s comment above.
    Secondly, I just read your blog post to my husband, Drew, and he loved it! He says to tell you that he completely relates to being overwhelmed when he thinks about goal-setting. And then he suggested that he and I sit down and set goals together!

    See what you just inspired! Thanks, we needed that~!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kat says:

    I love, love, love the title of this post! Just the title makes you want to just do something!

  • Kayla says:

    Woo hoo! Another MSM series!! I’m in! 🙂

  • Sounds great! Your advice to break goals down into month/week-size pieces has really been helpful to me. In fact, for the first time ever my husband and I sat down around the new year and each made a list of goals. I’m excited to see where we get by the end of the year. Thanks, Crystal!

    • Sarah says:

      I agree! I love how if something doesn’t get done one week, you look realistically at the setbacks you had that week, acknowledge things that happened that you couldn’t control, and try again the next week.

  • Charity says:

    I have lots of goals I would love to set ( is that weird? A goal to set goals?), but at this stage, with four littles 5yrs and under, I’m mostly just trying to make it through each day with everyone loved, fed and clean. I guess I’m just doubting that I’ll have any extra time to achieve any “goals”.

    • Sarah says:

      “I’m mostly just trying to make it through each day with everyone loved, fed and clean”

      Sounds like you’ve already got goals!

  • Michelle says:

    Yes! I just got through reading the first chapter in your book (I love the encouragement and ideas). I have never really ever set goals for myself. This is the year that I am setting goals and looking forward to the growth that it brings.

  • Lora says:

    I’m grateful to have the chance to join you for this series.

  • Amy f;) says:

    We really, really struggle with this…looking forward to the help and encouragement:)

  • Brooke says:

    Sooooo excited for this series! Thank you for such a wonderful and practical topic!!!

  • Laura says:

    Love this article. I’ve been a goal setter for many years and they do get done. But, I don’t translate them down to weekly goals and it would be easier to keep my eyes on the prize if I did. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. Thanks also for all of your posts and good work. You are inspiring.

  • Amber Cullum says:

    Yes!!!! I am super excited about this series, as I know I need to start setting goals or me and my family may go nuts.

  • Emily says:

    Looking forward to this series Crystal! I just finished your book too. Devoured it pretty much in one day. I couldn’t put it down. Thanks for all you do to keep us organized, simple and intentional!

  • g says:

    Yes! I can’t wait! Already started reading your book and loving every minute of it!

  • Karin says:

    Yes please – I could definitely use some advice. I made my goals and started to organize. I tried to make “baby” steps towards the goals but I think I fell down there. I think I’m stuck and not sure where to go next.

  • Niki says:

    My DH is a big goal setter too. I used to beat myself up wondering why I have no goals. Recently, I realized that I am a task oriented worker and he is a goal oriented worker. Goals just don’t give me that same sense of well being. Now, when we set goals, I organize the million steps I need to do before reaching the goal. I’m satisfied with the process and he’s satisfied with the result.

  • Meredith says:

    I’ve always had general goals, but really made specific ones after reading your blog and your goal setting for the week. My house is so much more organized, as is life in general. I love the idea of forming one good habit a month, I’ve been so successful so far! Looking forward to this series.

    • Laura Jane says:

      I’m trying the one habit a month thing as well. So glad that you’ve been successful! What was your habit, if you don’t mind sharing? I need to hear some success stories, because I’m struggling with my habit for this month (to get to bed early six nights a week).

      • Meredith says:

        Hi Laura Jane,
        My habit for January is to keep my kitchen island, table, and the landing up my stairs clutter free. I started it when Crystal was running the 21 days series, but it sort of fell by the way side with the holidays. During that series, Crystal mentioned identifying what holds you back from forming good habits. For me, it was definitely laziness and being tired from working full time and having two small kids. Now that I’ve identified it, I’ve broken the goal down to saying, I’ll straighten up those three areas for 10 minutes every night after the kids go to bed. Well, I’m happy to say that now it doesn’t even take that long. Because I’ve kept up with it, it’s so much easier and I love to look around and see those areas neat. I could never keep the island clutter free before.
        I suggest you decide on even 5 minutes earlier to bed at night, then increase it, so you’ll hit your ideal bedtime over time.
        My February habit is going to be keeping my car clutter free! Good luck!

        • Sarah says:

          I love the 10-minute plan when it comes to goal-setting! My 10-minutes might look different than your 10-minutes, even if it’s the same overarching goal, but we all can spare 10-minutes a day!

          Another blog I follow has a 10-minute a day series, where she works on one “10-min/day” project each week. It’s amazing what we can do in just 10 minutes when we’re consistent. And sometimes, after 10 minutes, we’re on a roll and keep going!

  • Laura Jane says:

    I’m so excited about this series!!! I loved your “21 Days to a Disciplined Life” series, and I’m sure this one will be just as good. I’m really, really trying to improve in setting and meeting goals, but I’m really struggling. Having the discipline to follow through is tough, really tough – especially day after day after day. I actually started a whole blog on this subject. It’s still under construction, but I needed somewhere to be accountable for the follow through.

  • Sarah says:

    I love that the 2 articles I saw on your website this morning were about comparing yourself to others and goal-setting. In the past, this has been one of my main problems with goal-setting. I looked at others’ goals to combat similar challenges to mine (weight loss, exercise, organization), and even what were tiny, borken-down goal steps to them were to ambitious for me, so I’d always fail.

    I finally realized I had to take what I was capable of TODAY, and just try to do that consistently. If that meant I worked out hard for just 10 minutes, but really rocked those 10 minutes, then I should feel proud about those 10 minutes instead of beating myself up for not going longer. I had to accept the reality that I have health challenges that had to addressed FIRST before I could even attempt goals that to others were tiny (exercise-induced asthma, plus a severe year-round grass allergy that can also trigger the asthma, and since I didn’t address those issues until I was almost 30 years old, I had 100+ lbs of excess weight to carry around).

    If I took MY OWN goals, that were at my own level, and did them consistently, my capacity increased. Then I could set a higher goal based on my own current capacity to execute. My goal is no longer to be at a certain place, but simply to improve my current situation by working at something consistently. And even if I don’t hit the bar of what I wanted to BE, I’m still growing and improving, and that’s the whole point of goal-setting, isn’t it? To improve ourselves.

  • Jenn says:

    Crystal, this month is the first time I’ve had the courage to write down some goals and a couple of habits to establish, and accepted God’s GRACE to move forward with it. It’s totally changed my life! Thank you so much for your encouragement to help us define our different job descriptions, and how to be most effective as daughters of the King, wives to our husbands, moms to our kids, and ministers to our “neighbors”. It’s so great to have some help out there!

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