Setting Better Goals

I mentioned earlier last week that I was thinking of revamping how I go about setting goals.  I have been studying this all week long and have learned a few things about how I might improve my goals. 

 I am on target in one way: I set goals in focused areas of my life. I focus on seven areas of my life: Spirit, Marriage, Family, Self, Home, Blog, Finances.  You can certainly choose any focus areas you like and be even more specific than I've been if you'd like.  These are the areas I have chosen to focus on for the past few years.

That's both good and not so good.   I'm right to spread my focus into several areas, but I keep using the same areas over and over again, regardless of what is most important to me in any given month and regardless of what my schedule looks like.  Sometimes I need to refocus, look at other areas, bringing some up higher on the list of priority than others, changing others out entirely, etc.  Obviously my spiritual focus is going to remain a priority but  I need to reset my focus areas now and then, according to the life stage I'm in and, occasionally,  just for the purpose of shaking things up a bit.

Despite feeling uninspired at the moment with this pattern of goal setting, I worked with it for this month.  I'm going to keep studying this matter and see if I find something that inspires me.  In the meantime, why ditch something that does work?  Overall, I achieve about 75-95% of my goals each month but here of late they are too vague and don't have a time limit.

I came across this little formula for setting goals called S.M.A.R.T.  There are two variations of it and the one I'm sharing spoke most to me.

S = Be Specific.  What is my goal?  What am I aiming for?
M = Measurable  How will I know when I've reached my goal?
A = Action Oriented  What steps will I take to reach my goal?
R = Realistic  Is my goal realistic?  Is it too vague or impossible?
T = Time Bound.  What is my time limit for achieving the goal?

I keep writing down: Pray for John.  But just what do I want to pray about for John?  For how long will I pray over these things?  With prayer it's a trickier thing to measure or set a time boundary.

I know that just now he's facing an uncertain situation at work.  He's nervous about his physical ability to work the new shift pattern.  I can specifically pray that he will be strengthened physically and adjust well to the changes he's facing.  I can pray for the next 30 days for this adjustment to take place and I can do all I can physically to insure that he (a) gets enough rest, (b) has a stress free environment at home and (c) help him schedule his days so that he fits more in and gets all he needs to do between shifts accomplished.

Another goal I've been vague about is the work I want to do in the front yard.  I've not taken one step to do anything there.  Why not?  Because I simply wrote on my goals list: Work on Front Yard.  That is far too vague. I had to ask myself questions in order to help me determine how to proceed.

What do I need to start the task?  What area of the front yard do I want to focus on first?  I lack vision for the whole patio area at present.  I need to hash out a plan for that work area.  But there is a spot about the Faith Tree that could be quite lovely and a corner area between the front porch and the south end of the house.  Either of those would benefit from immediate work.  Just now I know I have more than enough material to work on that area around the tree.  It needs to be cleared, bordered, and mulched.  There's my goal: Work on the area about the Faith Tree.  I'll start by clearing out the plants there and repotting those I want to use elsewhere in the front yard (iris, soapwort, daffodils and muscari).  I'll put a time limit of three weeks on this goal.

I need a better work space.  For the past three years, I've blogged in my chair in the living room but this is not ideal.  For one thing, I tend to scrunch my shoulders forward.  It's killing my posture and if I'm on a roll and concentrating hard, I end up being stiff and cramped.  For a second point, it's next to the TV.  It's easy enough to lose my focus and start watching a movie instead, especially if I'm having trouble finding inspiration.

I have a desk in the kitchen and I found that spot pleasant for blogging for many years.  My previous work station was solely dedicated to the computer.  Now the desk is my work space with bills and notebooks and it's a little smaller.  I have nowhere to put my computer.  I will be taking measurements and looking at possible new desks or how to expand the storage space.  I'd like to have a workable space by the end of July.

There's one thing I haven't done at any point in my Goals each month.  I have never celebrated nor rewarded myself for accomplishing my bigger goals.  I don't believe in rewarding myself for basic every day goals, but there are larger goals that do deserve a reward.  I want to set up a rewards list for myself for when I do accomplish those bigger goals.

For instance, I love roses...But I only have three rose bushes at present.  It is my dreamt to have a rose garden.    This work about the Faith Tree is going to be a bit of hard work with all the digging I'll have to do.   When I complete this task I will buy myself a new rose bush.

So that's how I'm currently planning to approach my goals: Being more specific, setting up steps to accomplish and setting a time limit for finishing up each stage.  I hope this generates a genuine interest in accomplishing my goals!


Margie from Toronto said...

Today's post has given me a lot to think about. I have been procrastinating far too much lately and it doesn't suit me. I was laid off last Sept. but paid until early retirement at the end of May. I thought that I would get so much accomplished - and while I managed to get quite a few things done - not nearly as much as I'd hoped. I find having too much time on my hands means that I tend to drift - when I was working I was the person who could do 10 things at once without even thinking about it - now there is just too much time to drift and I need to get back on track.
I am going to write down some specific goals for the month and plan things in my day-timer for actual dates. I need the accountability. While I want to enjoy my first summer off since I was 15, I also don't want to waste the time. There are places to go and things to do and it should not involve spending umpteen hours a day watching Netflix!
Good luck with your goals and thank you for the pep talk.

Anonymous said...

Prayer for any situation is that God's will be done, and that He makes it clear to us what our part is in that plan for His ways are so much more than our plans, Envy here that you can successfully grow roses. When I retired my neighbor said as soon I got the house cleaned I would be working again. Still don't have the house cleaned and way too old to go back to work now! Gramma 6

Sparkiedoll said...

What a very timely post. Like Margie, it has given me a lot to think about. I made a big move earlier this year, 300 miles west to a little cottage in Cornwall UK. It's a completely new life. My goal when I arrived was 'fix the house up'. You can see the problem with that as a goal! I think I knew it already but it has helped to have it put right under my nose this morning. I can empathise with your need for a work-space too. I'm hunched up on the sofa, laptop on my knees writing this. Time to get out the planner and get to work and get SMART with my goal setting. Thanks for a nudge in the right direction. I've decided to go back to work for a couple of days a week after a year of 'rest'. I will be doing 'long days' 12.5 hour shifts and like your John, wonder if I'm going to be physically up to it - nursing so on my feet all day. Did I read that he be doing a straight 24 hours 'on duty'? Pheww. Best wishes to you both, Rose (UK)

Tammy said...

A timely post for me as well. For the past 3 years I've put many of my goals on "hold" while the grands lived here. Now that they're moving into their own home, I'm overwhelmed by everything I need/want to do in the house, for my marriage, and for myself.
I know I want to get back to the homekeeping routine I started in the Spring. It worked really well for me and the house looked great. Life happened and I got away from it. While it sounds like a vague goal here, it really is specific and there is a different focus each day of the week.
Just having a quiet meal together at the end of the day with my husband (most days - I'm not kidding myself that kids and mayhem won't be here a few times a week for supper) or having a chance to chat without interruption will be wonderful for our marriage. Not that we're in trouble, we're not. WE just haven't been the priority much in the past few years.
As for myself, getting back to healthier habits, and those are specific, is probably more of a priority than any of the other things.
I've loved being a close part of my grandchildren's lives, but feel like I will be able to breathe again when they move. Now a sleepover at Grammy's and Grampy's will be a special occasion and we can get on with spoiling them and then sending them home. :)

Lorita said...

I also needed this! I really like the S.M.A.R.T ideas. That gives me something to work with, because when I have things that need to be done I totally lose focus and end up with things started but never finished. Sometimes it is only that I got things out to start the project and there they sit, weeks or months later. Yesterday I had a surprise visit from a high school friend who lives over 35 miles away. It was the first time she saw my new home and it was not looking good, simply because I didn't finish anything that was started. I had been shopping and had groceries sitting on the floor, waiting to be put away. They were on the floor because I didn't get around to putting clean dishes away, etc. And I had to take a nap before tackling the groceries. So you can see I desperately need to focus and finish! Thanks for a great and helpful post.

Terri Cheney said...

I'm so glad to hear that this post is hitting the mark with you all as well. It was just the impetus I needed to really focus this week. So far, I've made my desk a better work space and while it's not what I want, it's something to work with in the meantime. Then this morning I was out working on the flower beds about the tree and at the corner of the house (the north end where one is established). I noted what a huge mess Maddie has made of that corner bed and how many of the wild flowers are taking OVER....Ugh. I'll have a fat lot of work to do in that one! At any rate, I've STARTED!

Rose I keep waiting to see your blog posts on the new cottage...We're all curious as we can be.

Lorita, Yes, sometimes, even when tired we just have to push through for a few minutes. And honestly it's mostly just a few minutes of work we're putting off. I'm always amazed when I say, "Oh I'll just work 30 minutes..." and I've finished two or three tasks in 15 and realize how little time any one of them took.

Tammy, yes, I had a much shorter span of having family live with me than you've had but it does change the dynamics of a house and a marriage even a good solid one. The house will feel empty. But you'll appreciate the space and time to think as well.

Margie the temptation to have a bit of vacation is understandable but I realized when I came home to stay years ago that I had to have a vocation mind not a vacation one. You'll hit your stride once you make up your mind to treat your home like a work week and have proper time for work and proper time for rest. It's at least an easier pace than the work world allows and you can make it have a beginning and end of your own each day which is very nice indeed.

Lana said...

Hubby's brain injury has actually taught us how toan age better than we ever have. I have to make lists for him that detail all of the steps to getting jobs done. We have both done very well with really tackling projects that had been put off for way too long and it feels great to have accomplished souch in the kast few months.

Anonymous said...

I finally listed just what I wanted to get done recently. Not just plant plants but what plants etc and where.I may only gotten one or two done a week but some have been waiting to be redone for ages and getting even a few done is wonderful! Crossing them off trees lots is good too! I decided to give away some plants I have had since our kids were young. Now my grandkids are marriage age! The plants have found very happy homes I had to stop feeling defeated that not all of it was getting done. But Something was done. DONE.
Your post spoke to me also. It gave me some new ideas too.
One thing I am happy is getting done here is putting in drip lines where I did not have them before. Less work and better watering.
The thought of a reward when job is completed is interesting !! ;-) Sarah

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