I’m sure I’m not the only person who spends a great deal of time pondering goals and how to reach them.
Recently I decided to rethink my long term and intermediate goals to help me gain more focus. As 2019 came to an end, I recognized that my long term goals had perhaps gotten out of hand and I might have written too many. I believe I had about 18 long term goals. I realized that I really wasn’t working toward any of them in a coherent manner. Something needed to change.
Back to the Drawing Board
I took a different approach to long range and intermediate goals. I sat down and asked myself, “In addition to my unifying principles, what else do I want from life?” This exercise revealed 6 total long term goals. They are pretty general – Grow Spiritually and Maintain Excellent Health are two of them. After much thought and consideration, I prioritized these 6 goals in A 1-4 and B 1-2. I made sure that each goal did not violate my underlying values or unifying principles.
I placed each prioritized goal on a single sheet of paper in my planner and asked myself, “Okay, how do you get there?” This simple question generated 2-5 more specific goals on each sheet. Some examples are “Read the entire Bible in 2020” and “Walk 30 minutes each day.”
Goals in Daily Action
Now I have something that I can really get specific about as far as daily goals and actions. Some of the intermediate goals, like the walking one, can simply be added to a daily action list. Others, such as reading widely in non-fiction, generated a daily goal of making out a reading list. That daily goal then gives me a resource for making decisions on what non-fiction to read or study on any given day as well as being a place to write down recommendations received from others.
What is most exciting to me is that I have a real continuity from the broad principles to the general goals to the more specific steps to the immediate daily actions. Do my goals meet the SMART format? Not all of them. I consider goals like growing spiritually to be more regulatory than having an actual end achievement.
By focusing my efforts on a smaller number of goals, I hope that my actual progress will be more along the lines of excellence and less just about checking things off the list. I hope that I will continue to work on personal growth until the end of my life.