We are in “no man’s land,” that odd week that exists between Christmas and New Year’s. Sure, it’s still technically 2015, but this week is more like a rift in the time-space continuum. The kids are out of school and we have a limited work week. It’s a strange gift from the heavens. A bonus. A week to wrap up this year and look ahead to the next.
This is a great week to do a little life planning. Don’t let your life simply happen to you. I see the value of this more than ever. I haven’t always lived this way. I used to let life happen to me. I was an extrovert and life of the party. It was a lot of fun. But I wasn’t living the life I wanted to create. Sure, I had dreams. Lots of dreams! But I wasn’t taking the time or the discipline to make them happen.
What will make this year different?
I always have some anxiety going into a new year. Have you ever felt that way? It’s exciting, sure. I have a lot of expectations, but this little voice creeps in to remind me of last year’s failures. I started strong. I had the best intentions. But life happened.
Life always happens.
2015 was a little different for me. I didn’t meet all of my goals, but I reached some major milestones. I was motivated throughout the year.
And I’m raising the bar in 2016!
So, what was different? What made 2015 a turning point? It really came down to one thing: Living with goals instead of living with blind hope.
I used to list out all of the things I hoped to accomplish in the new year. I would call these goals. They weren’t. They were dreams. I want to lose weight this year! Really? How much? Do I have a goal weight? Will I be happy if the scale reads just a pound less? For years, I would play this game. Only it wasn’t a game. I was the hampster on the wheel, never going anywhere.
Sound familiar? Let’s just shoot an arrow and hope it hits the target. That never works.
Using Goals to Make This Year Different
We don’t need vague dreams. We need real goals. Here are 5 ways goal-setting will help make 2016 different:
- Goals give you a target to hit.
You will never hit a target you can’t see. Setting goals allows us to see exactly where we want to go this year and what it will take to get there. At the end of the year, we will know whether or not we hit the target. We need something to aim for.
- Goals are specific.
Goals must be specific, and the more specific the better. Bad goal: I want to be healthy. (too vague) Good goal: I want to lose 25 pounds and maintain that weight for 1 month. Bad goal: I will be successful this year. Good goal: I will make $5,000 more in annual income this year.
- Goals are measurable.
When goals are specific, they are measurable. We don’t want to wait until the end of the year and hope we made it. We can evaluate our performance at any time. (And should!) The better we can track our progress, the more we will reach our goals.
- Goals can be updated.
One reason we don’t reach our goals is because we fail early on. If we want to lose 25 pounds, but we haven’t made progress in a month, we give up. The great thing about goals is they can be updated. If a goal seems out of reach, don’t give up. Update it. Losing 15 pounds is better than none!
- Goals are manageable.
The real beauty of goals is that they can be broken down into smaller parts. Let’s use the “lose 25 pounds” example. Break that down into smaller parts. I will lose 1.5 pounds per week until I reach my goal weight. Break up larger goals into smaller parts. This goes a long way toward reaching your potential versus giving up in frustration!
3 Goal Areas You Need to Include in 2016
Focusing on goals versus chasing dreams is a key step in making 2016 a great year. But that is only half the battle. We also need to be smart about the areas we are focusing on. Health? Career? What areas are you going to focus on in 2016?
Our values are reflected in the goals we set for ourselves. So, it is important to figure out what is most important to us, and then focus our efforts there. Michael Hyatt recommends no more than 7-10 total goals for the year. Do you normally have 15-20? Do you meet those goals? Maybe there’s a connection. This year, let’s try something different. Let’s determine 3-4 areas of focus and create 2-3 goals for each.
Do more by choosing less.
Here are 3 areas we need to include in 2016:
- Growing your faith
As Christians, getting close to God is a major goal in our lives. Yet, this rarely makes our list. Can this even really be a goal? How do you measure faith? Try 1 or 2 of these goals for the new year:
- I will read my Bible and pray ___ days per week.
- I will memorize a verse per week.
- I will spend 5 minutes every day with God.
- I will read ___ books of the Bible this year.
- Discover your purpose
Our purpose is critical to our existence. Why don’t we set goals to find our purpose? There are some key steps we can take in finding our purpose. How do we set goals around our purpose? Try these:
- I will take a spiritual gift test.
- I will take a personality test.
- I will take the Strengthfinders assessment.
- I will serve regularly in my church.
- I will spend 15 minutes in prayer each week, asking God to lead me in my purpose.
- Love your family
Having a great family life doesn’t just happen. It takes work. What areas do you need to improve in your family? Here are a few goals to consider for the new year:
- I will take my wife on a date ___ nights per month. (Choosing a specific day is best. This is one of my big goals for the year.)
- I will spend ___ minutes per day playing with my children.
- I will lead family devotions ___ times per week.
- I will pray with my children every night.
- I will give my spouse a break and tuck in my kids ___ nights per week.
Question: What goals can you set this year that will make 2016 different? Will you use any of the goals above? If you stay focused on meeting these goals, how could life be different in a year? What goals will you have in 2016? You can leave a comment by clicking here.