Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Importance of Setting Goals

Most of my posts are inspired by conversations I've had with people. This one is no exception. The other day, I asked my younger brother if he kept a written list of his goals. I actually asked him only as a preface to my next statement, assuming he was going to say yes. I had planned to advise him to use that list of his goals as a compass to guide him through the decision making process regarding some choices he was facing at the time. Instead of saying "yes, of course I have a list of goals," he said, "I think I've written them down at some point in time, but I don't know where they are..." I was actually pretty amazed. I don't know how anyone can live their life with any sense of direction without the proper map, a written list of goals they want to make happen in their life. I guess some people keep their goals in their head, but this is so abstract and leaves room for confusion.

I like to write down my yearly goals at the beginning of the New Year. I prioritize those goals so that I know which ones are the most important to me to accomplish, because we often cannot do it all, especially in one year. Next to each goal I write the actions I will have to take to make the goal happen. Then, I look at that list every evening, and I make an even smaller daily action list so that I am constantly working toward the first three goals most of the time and occasionally I throw in required actions to work on the other important, but not as important, items. Other things on my action list are regular "to-do" items like laundry and paying bills. Looking at that daily to do list is how I start my day. It keeps me on track. I use that day's action list when I make the next day's because often things don't get done and have to be carried over to the next day.

It also forces me to look at how much I got done that day in the way of my important goals. If I have to carry the list over to the next day and the only thing I got done was cleaning the house and grocery shopping, that means I basically ran in the hamster wheel that day. I didn't write 200 words for my book, I didn't work on my web business, and I didn't workout. This means I that while I might have a full refrigerator and a clean house, I have made no progress on the larger goals whose results could impact my entire life. And next week I will have to do the same chores again, making me feel like that hamster in the wheel, just keeping the status quo, but never growing or changing my life for the better.

My top three goals right now are to complete my fiction manuscript so I may give it a shot at being published, to build and establish a commercial website that brings in at least $2000 per month, and to create the habit of running and working out 5 days/week. I'm doing okay, but I'd never be able to say that without a clearly written list of goals, prioritized in order of importance, with a timeline, and chunked down into manageable daily activities.

The way I prioritize my goals is not according to what is the most important to me on a personal level, (the number one priority for me is family), but rather which of my yearly goals would make the biggest positive change in my life if I were able to accomplish it. I love my family, and I do make it a priority to spend as much time as possible with them. However, I always keep in mind that as long as I am living my best life then I am serving my husband, my family, and the world the very best way I can. This is the reason I challenge myself with goals that I believe will help me to live the healthiest and most productive life I can. This quote by Nelson Mandela illustrates this point for me,

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

This is why I set goals so that I can keep moving forward in this life in becoming the brilliant force I believe we were all meant to be. For the past few years, my top three goals actually centered on spending a certain amount of time on my family relationships. It worked out well for me, and I came to realize last year it was time for a shift in those goals. I had neglected the financial area of my life as far as growth is concerned for awhile, so that is where my goals have landed this year. I also realized that I was ready to increase my level of fitness to a place where I was several years ago, but haven't been in some time.

How you decide your top three goals will depend on where you want to see the most change in your life this year. Whether you accomplish them will largely depend on your desire to, as well as your plan of attack. Writing down your goals and using that list as a guide for your daily activities and decisions is key. If you attempt to better your life in some big ways this year, chances are you'll have to sacrifice some of the things that fill your time without enriching your life, like TV, negative or counterproductive relationships, and too much mindless web surfing. Your life will be the better for it in all sorts of ways. It is nearing the end of February, but it's never too late to start living your best life now.


  1. As Obama say's "Yes we can, Yes we can!" Wow I feel good, thanks!

  2. I've had a hard time commenting lately on your I'm catching up. The word verification thingy was malfunctioning. I PROMISE it was not user error. :)

    Goals....I'm not good at setting concrete ones and certainly not writing them down. You've inspired me. Thank you!