Goals: benefits & guidelines, Part II

Now that we have considered some reasons why we avoid or self-sabotage when setting goals, what are the benefits of this task? What’s the secret to achieving the impossible?

Goals initiate motivation. They give you something to work towards. A group of us recently completed the Spring Leaning Paleo Challenge last Tuesday (results forthcoming, promise!). I like (and need) a challenge, deadline and/or goal because it gives me an end to visualize. Without goals, there is nothing to progress towards.

With a goal like lose weight, you’re finished when you lose one pound! That’s not really what you meant, huh?

Great goals give you a plan. No more randomly going through the motions. Goals are a well thought-out plan that give you a target, action steps (the how-to), a deadline, and a means of measuring your progress. They are explicit and leave no room for ambiguity.

I’m not saying to leave no room for flexibility in your plan. I recently learned (big surprise) that I thrive without an exact step-by-step structured plan. I do, however, have an outcome in mind and a few ideas of how to get there.

Goals insure that you are working towards what you want to work towards (i.e. TARGET). This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how often we set a target and take action towards something completely different.

For example, football players wouldn’t run long distance to prepare for their sport. This is ludicrous. Football is a sport of short intense explosiveness. Sure, they need endurance, but not slow, long distance endurance. They need an increased capacity to handle a high lactic acid load so that they can continue at peak performance in the fourth quarter without fatigue.

Carefully planned goals include action steps (that we will discuss in a bit) that are purposefully chosen to take you closer to your target (desired outcome).

If I want to get stronger, I will lift increasingly heavy weights for 3-5 repetitions until I reach my goal strength measurement.

How can you begin making fantastic goals to stretch your limits of possible? We’ll begin with these guidelines and progress to more specific goal-setting techniques in future posts.

Get a pen and paper to jot down your thoughts… it makes a difference.

1. Don’t be afraid to dream big, REALLY BIG. Think outside the box of realistic and possible. What is it that you really want to do? When you used your imagination to save the world? Re-tap into that energy that is often hidden by the disenchantment of life.

Did you want to sail around the world? Backpack across Europe? Become fluent in a language? Travel? Read? Work for yourself? Manage a company? Work a different career?

Write these things down.

Personally, I want to live in Europe. I want to travel into space and explore the deepest oceans. I want to physically enjoy all of God’s creation.

Although these may seem impossible at first, they may not be as unrealistic as you’ve limited your thoughts.

2. We need help & accountability. God designed us beautifully in the fact that we NEED community. Just like those Polish babies, we do not thrive all alone, without touch and love.

People who achieve the impossible find one or a few people they trust to hold them accountable for their goals. Sharing your goals with others AND ASKING OTHERS TO HELP & SUPPORT YOU is a vital step to achieving your goals. It not only makes them more concrete, but allows you the relief of not being in this on your own.

It may also mean that you separate yourself from people who do not support you. There are always people in this world that want to drag you down. Their words can be hurtful and discouraging. The truth is that they are miserable themselves and want some company. They may be personally offended that you want to better yourself because they feel you might judge them or are just insecure.

Find those champions that will support and encourage you with your goals and dreams. Share your goals and action steps and ask them to check in on you to ask about your progress.

3. Short-term goals (1-3 months) and long-term goals (5-10 years) are both important. Visualizing the future and where you see yourself in 5-10 years is an important step in directing your paths. This is also sometimes the hardest step because we haven’t thought about this for a long long time, if ever. Perhaps life has happened and we are simply struggling to stay above water. I encourage you to take the time over the next few days to truly think about where you see yourself 5 years from now. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can change your mind. But grasp something.

Five years from now, I visualize myself working from home and for myself. I imagine making money from public speaking, a growing online presence and ebooks. I travel internationally frequently (sometimes for extended stays) and have the financial freedom to help whoever I want. I enjoy breakfast and dinner with my husband who teaches at a local university and we eat grass-fed steak every day if we want. We worship at a positive and praying church and we allow God to control our lives – we lay our plans before Him and ask His guidance, “if we should pursue” this or that idea and wait for His answer.

Short-term goals are just as important because they give you something to take action on today. Tangible progress is always encouraging.

The Paleo Challenge and Gluten-Free January are two such short-term goals. You can do anything for a month or six weeks, right? Sure! Other short-term goals might be, have 10 min. of conversation with your spouse or significant other each day, have sex 3 times per week for a few months, read a book to your child each night, take your children out to lunch or dinner individually once a week for a month, read the Bible 10 min. a day for a month, etc.

Write a few short-term and long-term goals down now. We will hone them as we go.

I hope your creative juices are flowing! In the next post we’ll get to the specifics of our final plan!



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