Where are you going, and how do you plan to get there? Even if you’re simply headed to the market for a few groceries, you need to know the answers to those two questions!
Those same two questions, or questions that are very similar, can be applied to almost every area of life.
- Homeschooling? Where do you want your student to be, academically, at the end of the semester? How will you get him there?
- Want to learn a new skill? What is the skill you want to learn? How will you learn it?
- Hoping to make some improvements to your home? What would you like to do in the next month or year? What steps are necessary to get there?
It’s far too easy to just want to accomplish something, and then wonder why that desire never comes to fruition. I know. I did just that for years.
Just one example: I’d tell myself that I’d pick up the needles and start knitting again; but without a clear idea of what I wanted to knit, or what steps I’d take to relearn that craft, or when I’d work knitting into my busy days, nothing ever happened. Worse, in my unfettered, unguided optimism, I’d spend too much money on knitting needles and yarn and patterns, only to have them languish in the bag in which I brought them home from the store. It was discouraging, and it was of my own doing. I knew where I was going, but I had no idea how I’d get there.
Once I took the time to plan out a few steps, I was off and running, and I haven’t stopped knitting since.
Another example: I imagined planting pretty flower beds and garden areas around my home, only to be frustrated as each growing season came to a close over my weedy, unimproved areas. I knew what I wanted those areas to look like; but I needed a plan on how to accomplish that vision, step by step, including how I would pay for it. Taking the time to think through those steps helped me to realize that the time and money for that particular plan will have to wait another year or more, eliminating the frustration as each summer came to a close.
We need to know where we want to go, in the various areas of our lives, and map out how we plan to reach those the desired outcomes. For the last few years, I’ve done this in the form of setting goals at the beginning of each year. This year, I’m very slow at getting those goals figured out and on paper, but here’s the deal – Even in this, I know where I’m going – I’m setting goals; and I know how to get there – I’m taking my time to write realistic goals, with carefully thought out steps to meet them.
The emphasis is on setting realistic goals for yourself. These are your goals, not mine, not your sister’s, not your best friend’s. Goals are a personal thing. Your goals might be loftier than another woman’s, or your goals may be more basic. If you’ve just had a baby, your goal may be just to get yourself to the point where you can get showered and dressed and take care of the basics for your family might be the goals you want to work toward. Don’t let anyone make you feel like your goals aren’t enough. They are your goals and not another’s.
Setting goals is not at all the same thing as making New Year’s resolutions! One of the benefits of setting goals is that it can be done at any time of the year, and goals can be set for both short-term and long-term time frames. The key is to not just set your goal (know where you’re going), but to map out reasonable steps to achieve that goal (how you’re going to get there). The important word in that last sentence is reasonable. It’s also extremely important that you do this in writing.
I set a goal last year of learning to quilt. I did a good job of seeking counsel from a friend who is an experienced quilter as I was setting my overly ambitious quilting goals. What I failed to do was to set reasonable steps on how to achieve those goals. I failed to take into consideration the fact that not only am I a busy homeschooling mom, but I also have a husband and home to tend to. Though I have quite a bit of sewing experience, I have absolutely no quilting experience to draw from. The results were pretty dismal. I failed to set reasonable steps for an already busy, beginning quilter. I needed steps that could be taken in the small amounts of time available during our homeschooling week days, and steps simple enough to offer me a challenge without rendering the goal unattainable by being too challenging. My steps for quilting will be much less ambitious this year, but they will still afford me the opportunity of learning to quilt. Lord willing!
This year, even though I’d hoped to have all of my goals for the year in place by the end of January, I consider it a better option to take my time to be sure that I’m setting reasonable goals with carefully planned steps to achieve them. Most of my goal areas have been outlined, but I’ve a few more to work on. Here are the areas I’m using to set goals for the year: Spiritual, Personal, My Marriage, My Kids & Grandkids, My Home, My Blog, My Ministry, Reading, and Creativity. There are sub-categories under each of these main headings, but you get the idea. I’ve already begun working towards the goals that I have set.
Are you making plans for where you’re going and how you plan to get there? What are your goals for the next month or year? How do you plan to achieve those goals?