Post by Erin Long of Home & Grace
(Beth’s note: I am super excited to get some new habits established when we return to normal life after moving into our new home, and I am in love with this balanced and flexible approach to goal-setting. I will absolutely be taking Erin’s excellent advice to heart for the Red+Honey household.)
We’re half-way through 2014 (I can’t get my head around it, either) so it’s a good time to evaluate how you’re doing on the goals you set back at the beginning of the year.
Didn’t set goals?
I’ve never been a goal-setter. It’s just always seemed kind of corny to me so whenever I was forced to set goals I usually picked something I knew I could easily achieve.
But back in December when everyone on the internet was talking about setting goals for the New Year (‘resolutions’ are cliché) for the first time I started to think goal setting actually had some value. I read enough blog posts and statistics to convince me I really should set goals for 2014.
I was gung-ho and had my printables ready to fill out, breaking down my goals into action steps and such.
Then about five minutes later I realized this was ridiculous.
My husband is a full-time student and has a full-time job. Sometime this year we’re moving overseas for his schooling, we have two children under the age of 4 and we live with my in-laws.
2014 looked to be busy and extremely unpredictable. This was not the year to begin goal setting. It was the year to simply take life one step at a time and go with the flow.
But still convinced of the value of goal setting, I wanted to incorporate it into my life in some way. So I started setting weekly goals, choosing 5-10 tasks or activities that help me to grow and keep my life in line with my values.
While goals can look like a ‘to-do’ list on the surface, it’s intention is entirely different. A ‘to-do’ list sets out the chores that need to get done in order for life to function smoothly, usually routine tasks like laundry, cleaning the bathroom or getting kids to and from activities. These are good things that need to get done but they usually don’t enliven or fulfill us. Goals, however, do just that. They give us direction, meaning and breath life into our souls. What is a goal for one person might be a ‘to-do’ for another and the other way around. It’s entirely up to you what category each activity falls into.
Interested? Here’s how to go about setting weekly goals:
Establish priorities and values
Before you set weekly goals for the first time, you need to define your priorities and values for the season of life you’re in right now. This will help you distinguish between what is is a ‘goal’ and what is a ‘to-do’.
Think about what is most important to you: spending time with your family, managing your home well, a hobby or activity, developing a business, growing spiritually, exercise.
There can be some overlap and some of the categories are pretty big. One of my priorities is ‘relationships’. It encompasses spending time with my husband, kids, friends and God.
If you’re working on a big project it could be a priority for now, being replaced by something else when it’s finished.
This is an important step because you priorities and values set the foundation for your weekly goals. Take time to define what really matters to you.
Look at the coming week
As with any goal setting, you need to break down your larger goals into smaller action steps. Since you’re doing this one week at a time, your goals need to fit within the confines of that week and reflect what is happening.
Ask yourself: What can I do this week that will reflect my priorities and values? What will I be most glad to have accomplished? What is happening this week that needs my special attention?
Each week will be different and your goals need to reflect that.
Choose your goals
Make a list of the non-routine tasks you want to get done; like finish the next step on a craft project, bake cookies with your kids, catch up on emails, read the Bible and pray.
Choose between 5 and 10 goals, depending on how much time each goal takes. Some weeks I’ve only had 3 because one is a big project or there are a lot of other demands on my time. Just don’t try to overdo it. It’s more encouraging at the end of the week if you can look back at more accomplished goals than unaccomplished ones.
Some of your goals might recur on several days of the week, like if you want to exercise four times, or be things you do every day, like prepare a healthy breakfast. Once something becomes a habit consider removing it as a goal and making room for another new habit you want to establish.
If you’ve set goals for the year and have them broken down into action steps you can easily make them a key component of your weekly goals by choosing one or two for each week.
Add something for you
I doubt that when setting their values and priorities many people include ‘take care of myself’. But this is your chance to get some self-care on the schedule and increase the chance of it actually happening.
It might cross-over with other goals, like reading regularly or spending time with a friend, but be sure that somewhere, preferably more than once, there’s an activity intended purely for your enjoyment.
So how does this look in real life? I would share what my goals are for a ‘typical’ week but there’s no such thing so here’s a look at my goals for this week.
My priorities are: relationships, homemaking and blogging. This week is a bit busy because my husband is finishing up his final assignments for his MA program so I’m on-duty as mom more than normal, thus I didn’t set any major goals for this week.
My goals are:
- Bake cookies with my daughter
- Have two playdates (time with my friends so it’s also self-care)
- Put kids’ rooms back together (we got new flooring and furniture was shuffled)
- Write one blog post (at Starbucks so also self-care)
- Respond to blog comments
- Catch up on emails
- Read 100 pages of my current book
- Exercise three times
I already know that I probably won’t read 100 pages or completely catch up on emails but I’m going to try. Whatever I don’t accomplish this week is a goal for next week so everything eventually gets done, though not always when I originally intended.
Our lives can be chaotic, filled with so many demands, activities and opportunities it can be all too easy to get swept along with the flow and lose all sense of direction. Setting weekly goals is a way to reclaim focus for our week, ourselves and our families.
Setting weekly goals has been hugely beneficial for me and every goal gives my week meaning and purpose, even though I rarely accomplish all of them. On Sunday evening when I reflect on how the week went, it’s better for each goal achieved.
Do you set goals regularly?
— Our Routine: A Flexible Daily Schedule for the Free-Spirited Family
— I Am Supermom
— Knowing Yourself in Order to Know What You Need (and why I hate this topic!)
— Embracing Self-Care: A Community Blogging Project