December seemed to bring sickness to a lot of houses, including ours.  The Wednesday after Christmas, I was still getting over a cold, but was well enough to be in charge for the day.  In fear of what might happen if I didn’t, I decided to make a plan.  I picked 2 goals to cross off: get everyone new socks and take down our Christmas decorations.  Although Walmart,socks and the toy aisle were not my friends, the socks did get purchased and the kids were helpful or at least occupied while we got the decorations taken down.  At the end of the day, I felt accomplished, proud, and like I had done all I could to fulfill my purpose in life.

Then Thursday rolled around. I didn’t pick a goal or have any sort of plan. I meandered through the day, making one addlebrained decision after another, snatching up projects at random, sacrificing too much of my time to needless tasks and then feeling the drain and yelling/lecturing.  At the end of that day, I felt tired, cranky, guilty and sad.

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I don’t like this woman, the one who seems to always appear when I don’t have any sort of focus or goal. She’s mean, unorganized and frankly, not much fun to be around.

The problem is goals are hard to set.  First off there’s the time involved to set them,then there are the mental roadblocks from previous failed goals and lastly, there is just plain old life that gets in the way.  Over the years, I’ve set and failed at a lot of goals and read about a lot of other people doing the same.  Here are some of the most common pitfalls, I’ve run into with some suggestions for how to overcome them.

 

1-We set goals we don’t really want to accomplish.

It just takes a quick glance around a Target ad to know what kinds of goals fall into these categories.  We all know we should be more organized, eat healthier and exercise and to that end we make goals others are making or want us to make, but I totally lose my drive when I’m doing something someone else thinks I should do.  Instead, I’ve found a lot more success in picking goals from areas I really want to improve on.

 

2. We try to do too much.

In the past, I’ve tried to set goals in all areas of my life: wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, human being and have come away feeling totally overwhelmed and “forgetting” about it very soon after.  The past few years, I’ve found a lot more success in picking a few areas to focus on.  This year, I whittled it down to 2, which will be: act like a grown-up and be happy.  Each month, I plan on picking 2 small goals that will move me towards these focuses and at the end of the year I have a good way to judge how I did.  Do I act more grown up?  Am I happier?

 

3-We use it as an opportunity to scold ourselves for everything we’re doing wrong.

Sometimes when I set goals, I act as if I’ve done something wrong and need to punish myself by setting goals to improve.  Maybe, it’s just me, but I’ve never found much success in that.  If I tell myself not to do it, it’s pretty much a guarantee, I will do it.  I’ve had a lot more success in setting proactive goals, such as brushing my teeth after lunch to avoid the persistent, chocolate-binge habit or listening to one podcast a day to get myself to clean.

As Socrates said

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

 

4-We don’t have a plan for implementation.

A dream is a wish your heart makes until you write it down and schedule it in.  I’ve found it to be really helpful after I’ve made a small goal to come up with specifics-when and how I will do something.  

Last year I read a book called Getting Things Done, by David Allen, which I highly recommend.  You can check out his website here.  One idea I learned from this book was to look at the projects I want to accomplish and write down the next specific action I can take and set that goal.  I plan to do that with my list of 100 dreams as well as think through what needs to be done each month and write them down so I can remember them.

 

To that end, I’m also excited to be sharing with you a free printable. A  Monthly Planning Sheet Printable  which you can use to help implement these strategies.

Goals can be good, great in fact, they can help us through difficult days, keep us focused on what really matters and create more pith.  To do all of that, though, they need to be goals we want to accomplish and we need to have specific, achievable plans for fulfilling them.  I hope by so doing we can all end our year feeling accomplished, proud and like we have done all we could to fulfill our purpose in life.

 

Write it down in a journal, talk it over with a friend

or leave a comment below or on Facebook.