Have you heard the saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail?" Or how about this one: "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time"? As I shared in my last post, God has done a lot of exciting things this year. Some of them have been blessings I did not ask for. But some of them were goals that I have set and the Lord has helped me to see fruit. But I'll have to be honest here. There are probably a lot more goals that I did not reach than ones that I did. Just want to keep the record straight! Top on the list is getting into shape and losing the baby weight I had from Jonathan (who was born 4 years ago!). That one has been on my list every year. My plans to blog 3-4 times a week started out great but then fizzled out towards the end. Dreams of supplementing our monthly income came to naught. Just because we make goals doesn't guarantee that we will always hit them.
However, that doesn't stop me from making goals again. Sometimes, it means putting those same goals back on the list for this year. Sometimes it may be time to let them go. But regardless, the important thing for me is learning to figure out why those goals didn't come into fruition and to seek ways to change my habits or way of thinking so that they have a better chance of success in the year to come. Failures once don't always have to be failures twice.
So, what did I learn? As great as my plans are, usually they don't come to pass unless three things happen. I need to 1) make it very practical and specific, 2) break it down into smaller steps, and 3) share it with someone for accountability. For this last reason, I thought I'd share with you some of the things that I will be working on this year. I started by making a list of my priorities, and then asking the Lord what He would want me to aim towards this year. This method of categorizing my goals gives it context and purpose, so I know why I am doing what I am doing.
Priority one: my relationship with God.
Goal: Spend one 4-5 hour extended time with the Lord every month, sometime in 3rd week of every month, in addition to my daily time of prayer and Bible intake.
Priority two: my relationship with my husband.
Goal: In addition to our date nights, be open to serving with my husband in another marriage retreat or ministry at least once, if not twice, before the end of the year.
Priority three: my relationship with my children.
Goals: Design unit studies so we can learn as a family. One unit every other month, starting in February, topics: art appreciation, chemistry, music appreciation, nutrition, and first aid (topics subject to change). Enjoy one-on-one time with each child, 15-60 minutes per week, depending on child.
Priority four: personal care and development Goals: Take a scrapbook class and create at least one page per month. Read one book per month.(same goal as last year. I actually read 18 books because I made a goal!) Get 7 hours sleep at least 5 times per week. (based on a conviction the Lord impressed on my heart during my time of solitude) Lose 30 lbs. by end of June. (for health reasons and because I'm tired of lugging extra weight around)
Priority five: my home Goals: Declutter my house by 30-50%, specifically papers, craft supplies and garage, by the end of the year.
Priority six: ministry to mothers Goals: Teach one church school class this year. Build my blog by 3-5 posts per week minimum.
Priority seven: work Goals: Complete 101 courses for Mom University by the end of the year: Living Inside Out, For Better or Best, Raising Disciples, Homemaking 101 class, Homeschooling 101 class Build a store at Mom University by the end of the year.
Just to be clear here: I'm not advocating a "name it and claim it" theology. These goals have been the result of some time spent with the Lord in solitude, and so I am trusting that these are things He wants me to focus on. I know I cannot do everything this year, but I do know that He wants me to take a step.
So, what about you? Have you set any goals this year? If not, why not? I have found that one of the side benefits of having goals is that it keeps my life from being swallowed up by the trivial and unimportant. I cannot tell you how many days I have spent wandering around keeping busy but accomplishing nothing of real significance. When I set goals, I may still have days and even seasons like that, but they are fewer and farther between.
Here's a challenge for today: Write down your top five priorities. Then spend some time in prayer, asking the Lord what is one goal in each of those areas. Keep it simple--one goal per priority.
Next time, I'll talk about what we can do to turn these goals into reality!