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Why Challenging Goals Are Best

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At the end of March, I wrote a post on doing a quarterly goal check-up. I had planned to do a similar post for the middle of the year (now) and just before the fourth quarter in the fall. However, you can review that post if you’re interested. Instead, today I want to talk about setting BIG goals.

I enjoy setting goals. I enjoy achieving goals. But my goals tend to be safe and reasonable goals. Things like “this month I will lose 5 pounds” or “my husband and I will have date night every other week this year.” Safe, doable, achievable, reasonable.

Dream BIG Dreams

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My Big Goals for This Year

Lately, however, I’ve been challenged to set bigger goals. To stretch myself. Stretch is my word for the year in 2018, and it has been a year of stretching. However, I still think I’m ‘playing it safe.’ I have four big goals for this year:

  • Write and publish 1 – 2 ebooks
  • Finish my blogging course
  • Earn $X this year through writing and blogging (should I have shared the actual number? Am I playing it safe again?)
  • Lose X pounds this year (again, am I playing it safe by not sharing the number?)

However, I re-read a book (The Circle Maker) that talks some about setting big life goals. Then I listened to a podcast about setting big goals instead of safe goals. Then, just yesterday I read through a course I have from a while ago that challenged me to dream big dreams – on paper – and make them into goals.

So now, I’m thinking I haven’t been challenging myself enough. Hence, I ditched the goals-review post and started this one instead. I need help in this area – so maybe others do too. And by ‘preaching to myself’ I can help others as well.[mailerlite_form form_id=12]

Why Focus on Big Goals in July?

set big goals

July is a perfect time to reconsider some goals and changes in your life, especially if you’re in the child-raising stage of life. Your life is probably structured around the school year – which will likely start within the next month to six weeks. But right now, you have time to really think through your dreams and goals, before coming up with a plan to start achieving them once the school year kicks in.  The school year is a great ‘new year’ for starting on new goals. As a former teacher and homeschooler, my life naturally moves to the rhythms of the school year. Yours probably does as well.

How to Work on Your Big Goals

There are just a few steps for this dream time. Put on your ‘if I could, I would…’ thinking cap and dream big.

  • Set aside some quiet time for ‘dream time.’ A perfect time to do this is on a hot afternoon after you and the kids have spent the morning outside playing in the sprinklers. Put on a video and let them chill out while you dream. Make sure it’s a video you’ve seen a dozen times or more, so you aren’t drawn into it!
  • Then, get your dreaming mode on. Start listing everything you wish for your life to be. Think about how you’d like to interact with your spouse, your kids, your extended family. Think about your career, your education, your long-term business dreams. Consider yourself, what you like to do or would like to do given enough time and money. Consider the areas of health, finances, friends, church, spiritual growth, home environment, and having fun. Brainstorm normal and outrageous dreams. Don’t filter or edit. Allow anything and everything to be placed on your list. This might be as far as you get while the video is playing. Follow the rest of the steps as you make time for them (a video a day until you’re done?)
  • Third, place your dreams into categories. You might use the ones I suggested, come up with your own, or borrow from another person or system. Once you have them categorized, start ranking them in order of importance to you.
  • Finally, make your dreams into goals. The goals you select – try to limit the number to five or less – may not be the ones that you ranked as ‘most important.’ Instead, they may be a number 2 or 3 but are more doable for this season of life. This may be because of time or finances. It may be because the goal will impact your entire family and not just you. For whatever reason, choose up to five dreams to turn into goals.

Changing Dreams into Goals

Changing dreams into goals isn’t difficult but does require another chunk of time – cue the kids’ video!

First, list your goal as a positive statement, as if it’s already been achieved. For example, “Today is August 31, 2018, and I have finished repainting the kitchen. It looks great and I’m proud of the work I’ve done.”

Then, take that statement and break it down into the steps that must be accomplished for this to become true. For example,

  • Step 1: decide on a color for the kitchen
  • Step 2: determine what painting tools I have and what I need to purchase
  • Step 3: purchase the tools and paint I need
  • Step 4: block out a weekend in August for painting. Arrange for childcare that weekend (Grandma and Grandpa?)
  • Step 5: clear countertops, place drop cloth, and paint
  • Step 6: clean-up and admire my work

These steps are your guide to achieving your goal. Give each step a due date, working backward from your end date for accomplishing the goal. I know this is a simplistic example, and not really a big goal, but it gets the idea across.

Next, write your steps as an action plan on a piece of paper or in an app to which you refer frequently. I’m a paper-and-pen gal, so I created a handout for you that will walk you through this entire process.

Finally, if this is something that would motivate you, create a list of rewards to choose from for meeting each step of your big goals. Of course, meeting your goal is a reward in itself, but sometimes knowing you’ll get a nice steak dinner for finishing five chapters of your book is also motivating.

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