It’s my favorite time of the year! Yes, I know Christmas is over and according to the popular song, it is THE most wonderful time of the year. Yet, as much as I cherish the traditions and lazy days of Christmas, I LOVE the start of a New Year. I mean giddy, over the top, do a little happy dance kinda love. The J of my personality relishes in creating plans and systems. (If you aren’t familiar with what a J is, keep reading). So as I sit down to reflect and dream for 2016, I thought I would share some of my goal love with you! Before you write down any goals, I encourage you to ask yourself (and hopefully take the time to answer) 5 important questions.
1. WHAT do you want your life to look like in 5 years?
If you are anything like me, your first reaction might be,“What?! You want me to think 5 years ahead? Are you crazy? I can’t even think about what I’m going to make for dinner tonight let alone what I’ll be doing in 5 years!!!!”
Yet, this is a vital question. My husband, who has coached companies and employees in goal setting, always starts off with this question. This question must be answered first. What you want life to be like 5 years from now will affect what steps you need to take in 2016 to get there. There is space on our goal setting sheets to brainstorm in this area.
In 5 years, I will have 2 kids who may be in college and 2 more in braces. So I need to ask myself, “What do I need to be doing this year to help me reach those financial goals? What do I need to be pouring into my kids this year to prepare them for leaving home in 4-5 years?”
It’s important to ask yourself: What kind of person do I want to be in 5 years? What do I need to do this year to help me grow in areas that will lead me to that goal?
Thinking LONG term will help you prioritize what you will do in the SHORT term.
2. WHY do you want to achieve this goal?
When we write out our New Year’s Goals (or the often more archaic term Resolutions), we often think in statements of WHAT.
For example, I want to lose 20 pounds. Well, why do you want to lose 20 pounds? Is your goal really that you want to get healthy, to eat better and exercise more? Why is it important to you to be healthy? Is it that 5 years from now you want to be able to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle to ward off potential disease and enjoy your family/friends/career? Is it that you want to set a positive example for your children? Is it that you feel better emotionally and spiritually when you have been a wise steward of your physical body?
Or maybe you want to get out of debt. Why? How will your life be different once you are debt free? Will it change your lifestyle, your family’s future, or the way you give?
Why ask why?
Your WHY has to be bigger than your WHAT!
At some point losing 20 pounds or getting out of debt, really sucks! I mean it gets really, really gets hard. One morning you are going to have a major internal battle as to whether you should get out of your warm comfy bed and go to the gym. You will have to fight to keep yourself from getting that second helping. If you are trying to get out of debt, there will come a time when you don’t get to do something all your friends are doing because you don’t have the funds. What’s going to keep you following your goal? Your WHY. What’s going to keep you from giving up after you have had one set back (or several)? Your WHY. Your WHY has to be bigger than your WHAT. (for more information on this concept, or with help formulating your why – see here)
3. HAVE you sought God’s leading?
I hate to admit this, but much of my life I have made plan A (and plan B and plan C) and asked God to bless those, rather than offer God a blank slate and say “Here I am, send me!”
Recently I wasn’t able to make New Year’s Goals as I would have liked. My husband was about to leave his job in the beginning of January, and we didn’t know where we were going to go after that. As I thought about the coming year, I felt as though I was looking over a cliff, peering down into the raging rapids waiting for God to say, “jump”. If this sounds like you, I want to encourage you with this verse:
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”- Isaiah 30:21
If 2016 looks like murky waters with no clear direction and lots of unknowns, I encourage you to focus on what is God calling you to do right now! He will slowly light your path as a motion detector street light may. Right now, He is calling you to trust, do good, dwell, and be faithful.
4. WHO are you?
This seems like a silly question, but self-knowledge is foundational to creating sustainable and achievable goals. The first step is taking the time to reflect on 2015. And by time, I mean not 5 minutes. You need time to sit and think and pray and ponder the year that has just past. Go for a long walk, go to Starbucks, lock yourself in your bedroom. God did such an amazing work in you and through you this past year, but you can miss it if one year flows into the next without much thought.
The next step is to think through how God has wired you. What do you love to do? What makes you break out in hives with anxiety? What are your strengths, talents, interests? What weaknesses are holding you back? This post can help you gain vision and clarify your dreams.
I have made goals in the past based on what I saw in other people and wanted for myself, but they weren’t really what I needed to be doing. Your goals are about YOU. Make them personal!
A personality test can be very helpful in this area. If you haven’t taken one or haven’t in a while, it can be helpful to know what your natural bent is. My personal favorite is the Myers Briggs which classifies personalities based on 16 different combinations of 4 letter types. These fours letters have to do with the way you get energy, the way you process information, and the way you make decisions, and the way you make sense of your outside world.
According to my test, I’m an Introvert which means I am energized by being alone. Therefore, one of my goals should be focused on this self-care. An hour long walk, time to read daily, blog writing time, all have to be a part of my routine or it’s not pretty. Learning that about myself has given me greater freedom to make regular time alone a priority without feeling guilty or selfish. Earlier, I said I was a J which means “I like to have things decided. I appear to be task oriented. I like to make lists of things to do. I plan work to avoid rushing just before a deadline.”- myersbriggs.org. Knowing this has also helped me with my goal setting. I like organized systems and routine and need to make goals that incorporate those.
I highly recommend the following:
http://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test you can take a free test here and I found it to be very accurate.
www.myerbriggs.org – a wealth of information
http://www.personalitypage.com/html/personal.html – I particularly like this page which focuses on areas of growth for each type.
Whether you like personality tests or not, the key is to spend some time considering who you are before writing out your goals. God created you and called you for this beautiful, messy journey of life. Only YOU can embrace your journey.
5. WHICH tools do you need to achieve this goal?
We are so blessed to live in such an informational age. If you have a specific goal, you can easily get information on how to reach it. Start a Pinterest board, find some books, ask friends on Facebook for information, follow those on Instragram who excel in that area. Olympic athletes have a team of coaches to help them obtain excellence. What people, books, websites can you utilize for tips? Do you have a trusted friend or family member you can talk through your goals with? How can they keep you accountable?
And I know I only said 5 questions…BUT…one more…
WHERE are you going to start?
It can be overwhelming to think about all you want to accomplish. Start with one thing. Pick a focus word for the year. Leslie, shares about her word for 2015 here.
When that one thing becomes easier, start on another goal.
Need help working through these questions? Click on the picture below to get started.
Looking forward to seeing the Mighty hand of God at work in 2016!