Hey friends, check it out: if you want to step up your goal-setting game, be sure to check out my new goal-setting mini-workbook in my free resource collection, which walks you through some of the strategies in this post.
Words like “goal setting” at times of year when everyone is trying to get a fresh start—like New Year’s or at the beginning of the school year—can produce mixed feelings in me.
On the one hand, I like the idea of dreaming big and making plans that produce results. Because who doesn’t like “results”? #amIright
On the other hand, I often find that goals and resolutions get forgotten within about, oh, 24 hours. Maybe a few weeks max. Many of us lack the motivation, commitment and discipline to see them through.
Related: How to Be Motivated: The Four Tendencies from a Biblical Perspective
Furthermore, a little confession: like most humans, I am lazy. Because there is only so much space in my brain, I like to take shortcuts and rely on sheer willpower to remember and execute all the things. I would rather be on Instagram than spending time planning out my laundry strategy.
It took several years as a stay-at-home mom before I realized that I needed to be a bit more intentional with my personal goal-setting and planning. Otherwise I am wandering around my house aimlessly day-to-day—keeping the kids alive, of course, but driving myself crazy with my lack of focus.
When it comes down to it, mom life is inherently chaotic. Maybe you thrive in chaos…but chances are, if you’re reading this post, you know you could probably do better.
Related: 12 Signs of Mom Burnout, and What You Can Actually Do About It
Personal Goal-Setting Hacks for the Lazy Mom
Photo credit: Jeremy Bishop
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Don’t just take my word for it; goal-setting is actually biblical. Let’s take a look at the big picture:
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness…For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 2:1 NIV, emphasis added
In other words: we have incredible gifts through the grace of God—in fact, we have everything we need to live a godly life. Cool. BUT at the same time, we’re called higher—to grow, that our faith might not stagnate.
I don’t know how all of this works, to be honest. Sometimes we just grow because when we’re pointed in the right direction (Christ), it happens naturally. I think just being a mom has made me grow as a spiritual person, whether I’ve been intentional about it or not.
But sometimes we need to stretch ourselves beyond what might “just happen.” As I read the Bible, I see over and over again a balance between God firmly guiding his flock while at the same time letting them figure out their own way.
So what does this mean for me, practically? It means that I have a lot to gain from setting goals and making plans, that I may grow as a person and in turn guide my children.
Now let me be clear: I believe God is the ultimate goal-setter, often behind the scenes. My plans don’t automatically align with his (see the necessity of prayer, below). But a quick flip through Proverbs indicates that we nonetheless have a responsibility on our end to try and make things happen. When we’re keeping our eyes on Christ, he’ll help us course-correct when needed.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.
Proverbs 16:3 NIV
In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
Proverbs 16:9 NIV
Convinced that goal-setting and planning is worth the effort (and not just at the beginning of the year)? Here’s a very basic way to approach it. I highly recommend trying to get a couple of quiet hours to yourself if you can so that you can really focus.
Related: The Ultimate Time Management Guide for Moms
It’s easy to want to jump into making plans, but start here first! Sitting down to pray helps me to be more reflective about where I’ve been and where I want to go.
Some questions you might want to talk to God about include:
- What am I thankful for, reflecting on the past year, the past season, the past month, the past week?
- What went well?
- What didn’t go so well?
- What are the areas I should grow in?
- What should I prioritize?
It can be helpful to have a sort of focus word or theme scripture that you can go back to.
I’m going to go out on a limb here: with only a couple of exceptions like homeschooling and finances, I don’t like to focus on stuff for a whole stinkin’ year. For the more fluid areas of my life, I prefer to focus within seasons and months. So if you don’t have a “theme” for a whole year, that’s just fine. Here’s a scripture I focused on at the beginning of last year (and drifted away from after a few months 😉 ):
I got this really fun tip from a fantastic little book from one of my favorite bloggers called Time Management Mama. Take a few moments and just dump your brain with what you want your life to look like in the coming weeks and months. You can write it out in a list, or you can map it out freehand, like a little flowchart (this is called mind mapping). Don’t think about it too hard; just write! Once you get going, you can start organizing your thoughts into different categories: home, kids, work, marriage, finances, etc.
What vision do you have for each of these categories? Write it out!
Need more guidance? It can be super-helpful to have a detailed goal-setting guide to walk you through it. Beyond my free worksheet which you can access here, I recommend PowerSheets from Lara Casey if you want beautiful worksheets that will help you cultivate your goals year-round. Grace Goals from Arabah Joy is a fantastic multi-media resource with printable goal-setting sheets as well as Bible-based video lessons.
More goodies: a couple of books I recommend that can help you cut out your time-wasters and focus on what you’re passionate about include You’re Already Amazing by Holley Gerth and Cultivate by Lara Casey.
Now this is the hard part. Narrow down your priorities. You might have 20 categories of things you want to work on. Cut and condense them to no more than about five focus areas.
Did you get a good vision for how you want to grow in those focus areas? Try to narrow each one down to a few words or a short sentence. These are your whys, which will help you as you move forward day by day, week by week.
Now identify some goals related to your focus areas. Be specific with those goals, particularly when you would like to accomplish them, but don’t force yourself to make a goal just to make one. Here are some examples of goals I’ve made recently in my focus areas for one season (about three months).
|Focus Areas & Vision||Goal|
|Relationship with God & Personal Growth: Dig Deep||Finish 6 books in 3 months|
|Home Management: Order & Comfort||Declutter toys and donate next month|
|Church & Community: Connection||Host small group party next month|
|Family: Cultivate Gratitude & Generosity||Create a gratitude poster next month|
|Work & Finances: Peace||Make X amount per week freelancing, save X amount/month|
Narrowing down your focus is soooo important, I can’t emphasize it enough. Otherwise making any real progress is just too overwhelming—and unattainable! Focus on just a couple of things, and I guarantee you’re much more likely to succeed.
Finally, the fun part of goal-setting you’ve been waiting for! Thinking about your goals, identify what you need to do to reach them.
There are a few ways you can approach this:
- Make new habits: recently I envisioned being more Spirit-led and having a peaceful home. Two daily habits I worked on that helped me reach those goals were to have a time of personal reflection each evening, and to aim for 30 minutes of cleaning and organizing in my schedule. Over the course of a few months I worked on and adjusted those habits (remember, this process is grace-filled!).
- Set up steps to reach your targets: within my big goals are smaller goals, broken down into steps. For example, to gain the financial income and savings goals I desire, I need to crunch numbers, plan some specific projects and make due dates. Little tip: start with a bigger goal, set a deadline and work backward.
- Get a great planning and scheduling system! I am a visual person and find it very helpful to write everything down on paper. There are a ton of great planners out there. My current recommendation for moms is the Living Well Planner. It has time blocking, spaces for to-do lists and habit-building, planning pages, and lots of space for goal setting and reflection. Maybe a paper planner isn’t your thing, but I strongly encourage you to discover what is, and stick with it. For more options, check out these 7 goal planners to reach your goals and stay motivated.
- Schedule adequate time for rest, or as I jokingly call it, “productive laziness.” I know this can be a challenge, but it is a vital part of crafting a plan that won’t leave you burned out.
Related post: How To Manage Stress By Being Productively Lazy.
Confession: when it comes to goal-setting in the past, I’ve fallen short with evaluation and follow-through. I can come up with great ideas and even a pretty detailed schedule, but I don’t take the time to reflect and evaluate my progress. Huge mistake! In order to get anywhere, it is absolutely essential to keep your goals in front of you…constantly!
That’s why recently I built a habit of taking a few minutes each day to pause and reflect. I also schedule a weekly planning time for myself, as well as space for my husband and I to communicate and plan together. Running a household and a family is not a solo activity.
In addition to my day-to-day and weekly reflection, I like to take time each month to evaluate how my larger goals are going. And, since it’s so hard to plan a whole year in advance, I do some major reevaluation and tweaking my goals about every three months or whenever there is a change of season. Those are chunks that feel much easier to manage, rather than a full twelve months.
So let me summarize that. Take a glance at your goals and plans:
- And yes, even annually.
When you evaluate your progress, don’t beat yourself up. Remember, motherhood is a crazy season! If one strategy isn’t working, try something else. And be flexible. Maybe you can’t work on a particular goal this season because you have a newborn at home or there are 18,728 soccer practices to attend. No worries. Focus on loving your family and come back to it later. This is grace-filled goal-setting.
Okay then, fellow “lazy” mamas, what do you think? Do you think these exercises are reasonable and flexible enough for you to practice? This is high-level, broad goal-setting advice, but hopefully you can apply it to just about anything you want to work on. Remember, you’re worth it! And trust me, if I can do it, so can you.
Don’t forget, grab you your free mini-workbook in my free resource collection for moms.
Leave a comment: what is your biggest obstacle to setting goals and achieving them? What advice from this post do you think you can you implement to overcome it?
I was just reflecting on these very things this New Year’s Eve and you’ve expressed my thoughts exactly! So good to know I’m not the only “lazy mom”! I love making lists and plans but then I just seem to never follow through..this post is what I’ve been learning as well. To make goals I can break down into day-to-day habits and to remember that my children need some structure and routine even if it doesn’t come naturally to me as the mom. Thanks for this awesome post!
Yep I think definitely lots of us relate to this! It’s a little hard to admit honestly, but once I started tackling my laziness I’ve just been happier because I feel like I’m actually moving somewhere rather than spinning my wheels
This is perfect! Thanks for the actionable tips and advice. I can’t wait for 2018!
Fantastic list. Hits on all the important things. If we aren’t growing we are going backwards. Great strategies for growing and thriving
Thanks, Hannah, I love that point!