Today is the last day of the year, and it is the day I set aside for goal setting.
I love goals. I always have. From swimming times to jobs, I like to see how well I can do.
You either love them or you hate them. I love them, but that doesn’t mean I always achieve goals. In fact, I tend not to. For most of my life, my tendency was to set goals too high, and I set myself up to lose. Then I tended to make goals a bit too vague, so I could avoid failure. Neither is the right way to approach goal setting. Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot. I’m not there yet but I’m getting better.
I’m no expert, but I am experienced in this. My current method of goal setting is the best formula I’ve come across. It might change in the future, but probably only by tweaking.
Here is my current five-part formula, for what it is worth:
- Set aside a date and time for goal setting
- Begin with prayer and ask for direction
- Spend time finding a Scripture Verse for the Year and Song for the Year
- Divide goals into categories (mine are: faith, family, professional, and personal)
- Let the goals dwell on paper and come back in a bit to see if they are the right ones for the year.
- Date and Time: Critical. Goal setting can’t be something you decide on a whim to do in between meetings. Important things require scheduling. Place is important too, for many people. For me, however, place is not critical. In fact, steps 1 through 5 have all taken place at Starbucks. Sounds weird, but for me, movement and chaos help me isolate myself to a task. It is the Operations person in me, I guess.
- Prayer and Direction: Critical. If you aren’t a person of faith, I can see how this one seems irrelevant to you. All I can say is that my goal setting without God, from teenage years to adulthood, was a complete failure, and in fact was often detrimental to my mental health. This was the missing piece of the puzzle for me as I tried to set goals in a healthy way. God is the key to the ignition for me.
- Scripture and Song: Not critical but so much fun! I’d say that Scriptural assistance, for Christians, is critical, though I don’t know that you need to have a specific verse as your mantra. I sit down with Scripture (usually my audio Bible through You Version) and I read some of my favorites or “starter” verses, often Psalms. I don’t believe that Scripture is a fortune cookie and that if you break the spine of your Bible then God will direct you to the verse you need right then. It might happen, but not to me. However, I had been reading Luke lately (my fav gospel-long and eloquent) and happened to be in the fourth chapter. I found a series of verses that seemed so well to fit what I wanted to do for this year (and really for the rest of my working life) that it seemed a bit God-ordained or fluky, depending on your point of view. As for the song thing, perhaps this is a chick thing to do. But I listen to some of my favorite songs and find one that seems like it will help me drive my goals for the year. I don’t think this must be a Christian song for Christians, but mine is. In case you want to listen to it, it is called Here I Am by one of the greatest and underappreciated Christian bands ever, Downhere.
- Faith, Family, Professional and Personal Goals: Categories are critical; these particular ones aren’t necessarily critical. Without categories, those of us with less-than-organized gray matter will flounder. I need categories to help me organize and prioritize. After writing the categories, I let my heart guide me. If something jumps out first and seems like a good fit for a yearlong goal, go ahead and type it in (this year, seeing a particular band in concert was the first goal I set, so you don’t always need to start with the biggie). Some areas will have been a burden on your heart for a while, and those may be the hardest. This year, my “professional’ category was hard at first, and then I realized I was trying to be too specific again (and control-freakish). I can’t force a particular organization to give me a job, so I stepped back from that specific wish and constructed a job goal that captured what I wanted to do with my life.
- Waiting Period: Critical. You must do this. Unless God descended into the Starbucks and told you what to do, a la Moses, then you don’t know that your goals will come out right on the first pass. I took a break to listen to some music and work on some other things before coming back and making sure I was happy with the listing.
If your goals are specific enough but not completely unrealistic, then you can follow the sage advice of Yoda:
Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.
What are your goals for 2013?