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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.

{you can buy these worksheets on TpT here}

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? 


  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.