Words like “goal setting” at times of year when everyone is trying to get a fresh start—like New Year’s or at the beginning of the school year—always produce mixed feelings in me.
On the one hand I like the idea of dreaming big and making plans that produce results. Because who doesn’t like “results”? #amIright
On the other hand, I often find that goals and resolutions get forgotten within about, oh, 24 hours. Maybe a week max. I’ve lacked the motivation, commitment and discipline to see them through.
Furthermore, I am lazy. This may come as a surprise to some people because I balance a lot of proverbial plates, but it’s true. I leave projects unfinished. I like to go with the flow. I don’t like to have my life dictated for me, even from myself. When possible I defer to reliance on raw intelligence and skill rather than a well-executed plan. I can be organized, but only when I have to. For example, I am not going to color coordinate my linens unless you are paying me big bucks or there are well-documented benefits to such a practice.
It took several years as a stay-at-home mom of failing miserably at relying on raw intelligence and skill before I realized that I needed to be a bit more intentional with my goal setting and planning. (Side rant: the word intentional makes me crazy. I agree that it is necessary and good but seriously, it’s a tad overused in Christian circles…however, I can’t think of a better word, so there you go. Moving on.) I need to set goals, along with routines, because otherwise I am wandering around my house aimlessly day-to-day—keeping the kids alive, of course, but driving myself crazy with my lack of focus.
For more of my thoughts on this, see this related post: How To Rock Your Schedule (Plus Awesome Resources for Moms!)
When it comes down to it, mom life is inherently chaotic. Maybe you thrive in chaos…but chances are, if you’re reading this post, you know you could probably do better.
Goal Setting for the Lazy Mom
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Let’s take a look at the big picture:
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness…For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 2:1 NIV, emphasis added
In other words: we have incredible gifts through the grace of God—in fact, we have everything we need to live a godly life. Cool. BUT at the same time, we’re called higher—to grow, that our faith might not stagnate.
I don’t know how all of this works, to be honest. Sometimes we just grow because when we’re pointed in the right direction (Christ), it happens naturally. I think just being a mom has made me grow as a spiritual person, whether I’ve been intentional about it or not.
But sometimes we need to stretch ourselves beyond what might “just happen.” As I read the Bible, I see over and over again a balance between God firmly guiding his flock while at the same time letting them figure out their own way.
So what does this mean for me, practically? It means that I have a lot to gain from setting goals and making plans, that I may grow as a person and in turn guide my children. Now let me be clear: I believe God is the ultimate goal-setter, often behind the scenes. My plans don’t automatically coincide with his (see the necessity of prayer, below). But a quick flip through Proverbs indicates that we nonetheless have a responsibility on our end to try and make things happen. When we’re keeping our eyes on Christ, he’ll help us course-correct when needed.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.
Proverbs 16:3 NIV
In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
Proverbs 16:9 NIV
Convinced that goal setting and planning is worth the effort (and not just at the beginning of the year)? Here’s a very basic way to approach it. I highly recommend trying to get a couple of quiet hours to yourself if you can so that you can really focus.
It’s easy to want to jump into making plans, but start here first! Sitting down to pray helps me to me more reflective about where I’ve been and where I want to go.
Some questions you might want to talk to God about include:
- What am I thankful for, reflecting on the past year?
- What went well?
- What didn’t go so well?
- What are the areas I should grow in?
- What should I prioritize?
It can be helpful to have a sort of focus word or theme scripture that you can go back to. Last year I focused on Proverbs 16:3 (see above). This year I wrote this in the front of my planner.
I got this really fun tip from a fantastic little book from one of my favorite bloggers called Time Management Mama. Take a few moments and just dump your brain with everything you want to do. And I mean everything. You can write it out in a list, or you can map it out freehand, like a little flow chart (this is called mind mapping). Don’t think about it too hard; just write! Once you get going, you can start organizing your thoughts into different categories: home, kids, work, marriage, finances, etc.
Now this is the hard part. Narrow down your priorities. You might have 20 categories of things you want to work on this year. Now cut and condense them to no more than about five.
I find it very helpful during this exercise if you have some sort of mission statement or “life statement” that defines what’s most important in your life. One of my new favorite books, You’re Already Amazing, has helped me tremendously in cutting out all of the time-wasters in my life so that I can focus what I’m truly passionate about.
Once you’ve narrowed down your passions, identify some goals related to those passions. As an example, here are mine:
|Relationship with God & Personal Growth||Being more Spirit-led|
|Church & Community||Being available and responsive to needs|
|Family (Kids & Marriage)||Unity|
See this related post: : How To Embrace Mom Burnout & Embrace What Makes You Amazing.
Narrowing down your focus is soooo important, I can’t emphasize it enough. Otherwise making any real progress is just too overwhelming—and unattainable! Focus on just a couple of things, and I guarantee you’re much more likely to succeed.
Finally, the fun part of goal setting you’ve been waiting for! Thinking about your goals, identify what you need to do to reach them.
There are a few ways you can approach this:
- Make new habits: two of my goals this year are to be more Spirit-led and to have a peaceful home. Two daily habits that can help me reach those goals are to have a time of personal reflection each evening, and to aim for 30 minutes of cleaning and organizing in my schedule.
- Set up steps to reach your targets: within my big goals are smaller goals, broken down into steps. For example, to gain the “financial freedom” I desire, I need to crunch numbers, plan some specific projects and make due dates. Again, Time Management Mama has helped me personally with this. Little tip: start with a bigger goal, set a deadline and work backwards.
- Get a great planning and scheduling system! I am a very visual person, and so I just love having a beautiful paper planner. Currently I am obsessing over the Brilliant Life Planner because it has time blocking, spaces for my to-do lists, project planning pages, and lots of space for goal setting and reflection. Maybe a paper planner isn’t your thing, but I strongly encourage you to discover what is, and stick with it.
- Remember to schedule in adequate time for rest, or as I call it, “productive laziness.” I know this can be a challenge, but it is a vital part of crafting a plan that won’t leave you burned out.
See this related post: How To Manage Stress By Being Productively Lazy.
Confession: when it comes to goal setting, I’ve fallen short with evaluation and follow-through. I can come up with great ideas and even a pretty detailed schedule, but I don’t take the time to reflect and evaluate my progress. Huge mistake!
That’s why this year, as I mentioned, one of the habits I want to build is taking a few minutes at the end of each day to pause and reflect. I will also schedule a weekly planning time for myself, as well as space for my husband and I to communicate and plan together. Running a household and a family is not a solo activity!
In addition to my day-to-day and weekly reflection, I’d like to take time each month to evaluate how my larger goals are going. And, since it’s so hard to plan a whole year in advance, I’ll be doing some major reevaluation and tweaking my goals every three months. Those are chunks that feel much easier to manage, rather than a full twelve months.
When you evaluate your progress, don’t beat yourself up. Remember, motherhood is a crazy season! If one strategy isn’t working, try something else. And be flexible. Maybe you can’t work on a particular goal this season because you have a newborn at home or there are 18,728 soccer practices to attend. No worries. Focus on loving your family and come back to it later.
Lastly, I’ll add that accountability is vital when it comes to setting goals and sticking to your plans. Whether it’s with your husband, a Facebook group (like Wiping Noses for Jesus is Legit!), or a trusted friend, open up about what you’re working on and ask for accountability. Sometimes just putting it out there makes me feel a lot more motivated to follow through.
Okay then, fellow lazy mamas, what do you think? Do you think these exercises are reasonable and flexible enough for you to practice? This is high-level, broad goal setting advice, but hopefully you can apply it to just about anything you want to work on. Remember, you’re worth it! And trust me, if I can do it, so can you.
Leave a comment: what is your biggest obstacle to setting goals and achieving them? What advice from this post do you think you can you implement to overcome it?
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