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Monday, December 29, 2014

Mommy Monday: 5 Tips for Setting Meaningful Goals

Well, Christmas is officially past and New Year's is almost here. Did that go by extra-fast for anyone else?!? Goodness gracious.

This week is winter break for me so I am trying to get my life in order (emphasis on TRYING) before school starts again. One of the first things I did was sit down and think about how I have been using my time this past year, and how I want to improve so that I can focus on the things that matter most to me.

I made these goal-setting worksheets this past summer when I was starting my blog and TpT store, because I wanted to make sure that I wasn't losing sight of my priorities when I made those additional time commitments. Now that I've been at it for a while, I wanted to go back and re-think what I am doing and revisit my goals from the summer. With New Year's coming, I figured the timing couldn't be better anyway! After going through this a few times, here are my tips for meaningful goal-setting:

1. Write it down
I'm sure this is not the first time anyone has heard this idea, but it really does make a difference when I write things down. I used to spend time at the end of each year reflecting on the past year and making goals for the new year, and often I would even share those goals with my friends and family, but I never wrote them down- it just seemed like an unnecessary step. But when I write down ideas I am forced to be more concrete and I can keep the written copy somewhere where I will be reminded of my goals more regularly. 

2. Start with where you are right now
One of the most helpful things I realized, when I was thinking about how best to set goals, was that I needed to start by taking stock of my life as I was currently experiencing it before I could really decide on what changes I wanted to make. The first thing I do is write down every little thing that I spend time doing (on the sheet titled "my commitments"). I write down things mundane things like cooking, non-negotiable's like teaching and grading, and fun things like spending time with friends. I try to think of anything that I spend time on and write it down. I used 3 categories- home, teaching, and online- to help me think of everything. 

3. Choose your priorities
The next step is to look at that list of things I currently do and see if, first of all, anything is missing that I want to add. Then I look through everything and figure out what my top priorities are. I suppose if someone else looked at my list they would see that exercise is missing. Too bad, healthy people. It ain't happenin'. I know that for now, running around with children at work and at home is enough to keep me active, and exercise for its own sake just isn't a priority for me. But I did notice that it was missing and make a conscious choice to continue excluding it from my life :) 

I looked over everything on the first sheet and made a list of my priorities in ranking order (the sheet titled "my priorities"), then decided how much time I wanted to spend on each of those items. It was really telling, the first time I did this, to think about how much time I spend on items that aren't theoretically as much of a priority. I realized that, even though in theory spending time with friends was a higher priority than social media, I was spending more time on the latter because arranging times to be with friends was so difficult. Having moved a couple of years ago, and having twin infants to single-handedly care for, finding ways to just hang out was extremely difficult (and, to be honest, I think that was OK). Since realizing that imbalance last summer (and recognizing that my circumstances have changed enough to make it more realistic/practical), I have been able to be more intentional about making time for friends (and spending less time on social media). 

4. Only set goals that have a clear reason
I think in the past I would set goals because it just seemed like the obvious thing to do (like exercise, spend more time doing devotions etc). Now I force myself to have a clearly-articulated reason for a goal before I commit to it. One of my goals this year is to spend at least 2 hours a week spending time with friends. I want to do this to foster my emotional health, develop budding friendships with people I have met locally, maintain relationships with long-time friends who live elsewhere, and set an example for my girls of a healthy social life. It is easier for me to feel confident that my goals are worthy of my time and energy when I know I have a clear reason or purpose for working on it. If I have a difficult time coming up with a clear purpose for a goal, I set it aside. I know it won't happen if I'm not clear on why I'm doing it.

5. Make a specific action plan
Clearly articulating my reasons made it easier for me to think through the specific logistics of achieving my goal. Since I want to develop both my local and long-distance friendships, I decided to spend some time meeting up with friends locally but also make time to regularly call my long-time friends on the phone or skype. Since I want my girls to see my example of spending time with friends, I am planning to spend some of that time in play dates with friends with children. I also needed to figure out when I could realistically do it. For me that means making a short phone call to a friend or getting together for dinner with another family on week nights, and planning play dates or coffee with a friend on weekends. I also know that I need to make most of these plans in advance and write them in my planner to make them happen. 

So there you have it: my 5 tips for setting meaningful goals. Have you made any resolutions this year? What are they? You don't need anything special to reflect on your goals, but I've found these goal setting worksheets really helpful for clarifying my thinking- download the printables here if you're interested!


  1. These are great tips! I LOVE setting goals and working towards achieving them. I'm your linkup neighbor on Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party.

  2. I love to set goals as well. These are very practical and helpful tips. Thanks for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned it to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board.