So now we are in the midst of making our goals into actionable and tangible realities! This is where the excitement can really begin, because we set ourselves up to make progress towards achieving these once elusive dreams that have now become goals (which means we CAN make them a reality!) 🙂
But before we do that let’s go back and review on what we have done so far; first we listened, prayed and pondered on where we wanted our lives to go and where we feel we are being called to in our lives. We were led to a word for our year and the writing of a motto statement. (Click here to read more details about this.) Then we took that motto statement and word and fought our fears with a do it scared or courage statement; something that we can read to remind us to keep going and to make the choice of courage. We also took our big dreams and narrowed them down into long term goals in our priority areas; things/changes we wanted to make happen over the course of this whole year. (Click here to read more details about this.) These are broad and are the umbrella under which we will further break the goals down into monthly pieces in this post.
So we started by listening, dreaming and praying and now what seemed to be a cloud of possibility is written out as more of a concrete reality. Now we break up that concrete into monthly chunks to create the masterpiece of your life’s art before you. Emily Freeman says in her book A Million Little Ways, “And so the meaning of our lives is not dependent upon what we make of it but of what He is making of us.” It is true, you were created for purpose, let this process help you discover more fully yourself and the masterpiece God created you to be.
Something large and long term can seem to be looming overhead and slightly, if not fully, overwhelming and way too filling. However when it is broken down into smaller pieces it tends to be more easily digested. You are taking in, and doing less, but essentially in the long run you are actually doing more. You are able to make more progress in the long run by taking little bites, than by trying to finish the whole meal in one sitting.
I am reminded of the Tortoise and the Hare, which in fact talks about a race instead of a meal, however the same concept applies. Basically the Tortoise wins the race because he is slow and steady, he does not waver, he does not rush ahead or try to do it all. Instead he makes small steps toward the finish line and eventually wins the race because he is consistent and doesn’t give up. Dave Ramsey is famous for speaking of the Aesop fable often and he says, “Slow and steady wins the race. I have read The Tortoise and The Hare many times. Every time the tortoise wins.”
So while the eventual goal is the long term success, our focus becomes the small and steady steps to get us there. This is where our monthly goals are key to making those steps forward. Each month we are to look at where we are within our long term goals and make our monthly goals appropriately to fit with our time, energy and season of life. Some of us can do more in a month than others and that is ok…again the size of our plates will be different; but we can’t sit down to eat the meal in one gulp…we have to break it down into manageable pieces for ourselves. Slow and steady; small and tasty 😉
Here is what I do when I look at each month’s clean slate-
*I pray for guidance and clarity.
*I look at my monthly calendar and realistically tell myself what can and can’t be done.
*I let go of certain activities depending on the needs.
*I look at my long term goals and figure out what I need to do in a month’s time to work toward that (for instance one of my Big 3 long term goals is to write a book, so in order to start doing that I need to start this month having consistent writing times…that is one step or ‘bite’ I can do now to move toward the big goal…and I am not necessarily working on the book per say, but it is just the writing time I am trying to work on at this point…)
*I also figure out the Top 3 Goals for the month…the 3 most important ‘bites’ for that month.
*I also look at each of my ‘priority’ areas and write down a goal/habit under each I want to focus on…sometimes these will help me achieve my Top 3 (this will make more sense when you see what my monthly goals are compared to my long term goals, but for example one of my Big 3 long term goals is to be present and focus on my family so one of my January Big 3 goals is Family Fridays and then under my fun and recreation priority area I have plan a family day out and Family Fridays (game or movie nights) every Friday.)
*I also refer to my do it scared/courage statement while narrowing down my monthly ‘bites’ and remind myself of my motto statement….I narrow down on my Top Goal as well, which for me this month is Consistent Writing/Work time. This top goal is the most important and the one I really want to ‘digest’ this month (I will talk more about that later in this post).
So to give you an idea; Here are my monthly goals for January:
(Again I am going to preface in this post, like I did in my previous post about my long term goals, that many of these areas are things I have started to set into place but wanted to be more intentional with…such as being more present with family; something I am always working on, but planning to make more of an effort for blocked out family time…also my basement office room; I started this last year, but need to finish it up. If this seems like too many goals then you simply can make your amount less according to what you may already have in place or what changes you see need to be made in your life…your priority areas may be different too! This is totally fine!! Make it work for you! This is essentially just a guide for you to use in helping make goal in your own life…I am a visual learner and like to see how others write it out so I added my goals in order for others to use as a guide as well…but it is not to be used as an exact model! If you have any questions or need help, please do not hesitate to ask and I will advise as best I can! Happy goal-setting!) 🙂
Big 3~ Major goals to accomplish this month
- Basement office room done (except for bookshelf and sewing machine- will not have these items yet)
- Block out writing/work times and be consistent
- Family Fridays (movie or game nights)
Personal Growth (ways to improve my mind)
*Start my gratitude journal again- regular reflection time during my morning prayer/reading time (this time is already in place…I have made it a habit to get up for this time almost daily)
Fun and Recreation (places to go, people to see)
*Plan a family day out and have Family Fridays.
Health and Fitness (ways to nurture my body)
*Plan (write out) all my meals so I already know what I am to eat and to help me stay on track.
*Bedtime at 9:30.
Home Improvements (ways to improve my space)
*Hang up pictures, go through binders, papers, etc. on the floor (organize and declutter) basement work area. (I have mostly done this last year, but there are some remaining loose ends to finish up)
Finance Goals (telling my money where to go)
*Start to save my pocket money for a bookshelf in the work area
To Connect With (to reach out to)
*Start marriage devotional with Seth (during our already planned date nights in on Tuesday evenings)
I have really been loving breaking down my long term goals into ‘bites’ for this month. It really helps me to know what to focus on. Then once I have accomplished that or formed that habit I know it is ok to move on to another goal for the next month. I might not get all of these goals down this month, so I will carry them over into the February. I will give myself grace and know that I can try again; choosing courage to not give up but to persevere. I can’t move past the first step in order to rush to the finish line. I want to do this right and actually do it, instead of accomplishing just to say I have and go back to old habits and ways. Remember we want to be the tortoise and sometimes it may take longer to get where we want to go and that is ok, because remember we want to make lasting change and we want to win the race….as Dave says, “The tortoise always wins…everytime.” 🙂
So in looking over our monthly goals, there is usually one that stands out as the most important. You know you really want to ‘crush’ that particular goal; work extra hard to achieve or at least make significant progress on it. If you aren’t sure take some time to look over what you have written and ask yourself which one is most important to you at this time? The one that jumped to the Top Goal spot for me was ‘Consistent Working/Writing Time’. I knew I needed a more extensive plan to get to this goal so I asked myself a few questions and laid out a plan. This is all in my Living Well Planner, again not my original idea, but one that I have been implementing. This is my take on implementing what was in the planner. Ruth Soukup (creator of the Living Well Planner) calls this Crush It and it is basically writing out a plan for your top goal of the month.
C laim your Target (basically what are you aiming for) – A set, consistent writing/work schedule
R efine your objective (basically be specific) – 10-12 hours/week at least to work on all things blog and writing related.
U nderstand your motivation (basically this is your why)– This is important to me so I can grow my blog, gain readers and start writing a book!
S tep it Out (basically creating a plan for doing it) – *Block out times/days on the calendar. *Discuss with Seth to make sure he is on board with the times/days, etc. *Follow through with a plan for each block of time and do the work…so basically plan for the time and do it!
H andle It (basically what to do if life happens) – Don’t get overwhelmed- look to see if I can move things around- ask for help- give myself grace- don’t let it derail me!
I mplement your Plan (basically how will you follow through)– Plan work time prior so I can get right to work (already said this, but worth repeating!)
T reat Yourself (basically how will you celebrate if you accomplish this) – Coffee/Reading afternoon at the coffee shop in town all by myself the last Sunday of the month (already approved by my husband) 😉
Our monthly goals and top goals help us to tailor our weeks to make even smaller steps toward these changes we want to see in our lives. Each week I sit down and plan out my week with the must do’s, the should do’s and would like to do’s according to the goals listed above and also everything else that is going on that week. I can then make a plan of attacking and implementing my action steps in moving forward. This also goes for daily ‘to-do’s’…sometimes we have to prioritize and realistically break these steps down to truly make progress. It isn’t about overloading ourselves, but actually making slow and steady progress that builds on itself toward the end result. Again remember the tortoise?
I can hear you right now after reading this (and maybe after reading the earlier two posts in this series) and you are saying, “you are very organized and you have so many goals!” I basically followed the system found in the Living Well Planner and implemented and tweaked it in a way that has worked for me the last few years. I can guarantee I do not always finish every single goal every month and might get to the end of the year and some things aren’t quite finished or where I would like or know that God wants them to be at for me. I keep going though, I keep working and I keep trying my best. This system and process is not about being THE best, but it is about trying your best to be the best version of yourself; the one that God is calling you to be so you can follow through with what He designed you to be for His kingdom. If you feel that you need less goals than I do; great- do that! If you feel you need more; again great, go for it! It isn’t about doing it the exact way I have, but giving you ideas to move beyond where you are into where you desire to be changed through the grace of God. I am passionate about learning to listen to our lives through prayer and reflection to a God that loves us beyond what we realize, being intentional by living with purpose and finding the joy to continue to pursue our callings while also enjoying our everyday.
I hope you will join me this year as we move beyond today into our tomorrows; listening to the present and to the desires of our heart, realizing that God sometimes communicates to us through these thoughts and following our callings through implementing a plan and action steps to move us forward into the light of the next day. We want to enjoy our everyday, while also making steps toward the best versions of ourselves; with faith and grace to carry us through. <3
This was Part 3 of this Series! Check our the other posts in this series!
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Let me know in the comments what your top goal is for this month! And also your most favorite part of this process!! I absolutely love to hear from you!
***Follow me on Instagram to see how I am doing on my monthly goals and how I am working toward being more intentional this year! I will be using the hashtag #yearofintention ….see you there! 🙂