Sunday, January 8, 2017

More On Setting Goals

i have a few friends who have kind of *courageously* plucked lovely little pieces of life as they have mothered and homeschooled little broods not unlike mine. i've always looked at my mama friends who were able to balance a lot of lovely little add-ons as something 'other' than me. Some had interesting careers, some gardens, handiwork, volunteer work for organizations that stretched their hearts... They seemed to be able to find direction and just... fly.  And i? Felt the stillness of the air around me as i kept my two feet planted firmly on the ground. 
I knew that God had, in this season, planted me thus, partly because of my husband's career - which has been demanding and full of strange hours and travelling... and God knew that i needed to be here, and available for the people He had asked me to serve. 
But I was talking to one of these friends the other day about goal setting. I was trying to encourage her. Because i'm a few years older, and past some of the sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion that she's in the midst of, i feel like i have a bit of perspective. She had said she felt a bit scattered this year, and i replied, "Yea, and your focus is a little different out of necessity - with so many tinies... You're still just so good at reaching out and grabbing at life. i'm not." 
As a little background; this is a mom who has worked as an LPN, organized an entire event that still occurs annually surrounding early infant death and still birth in her area that has impacted hundreds of families. This is a woman who with a house full of children, upgraded her LPN with a foot-care class so that she could better serve the people in her community who needed her. Then, when the time came, she extended her maternity leave so she could stay home and homeschool. Then last year, she dove into starting her own little home side business. This is a woman who just gets things done. 
She messaged me back and challenged me, "i feel like you are though?"
i couldn't see it... i saw lost opportunities, or failed offerings or long seasons of watching and tending a homefire that needed care... "We'll see..." i replied, "i'm willing... but it's so hard to SEE where He wants me to take steps!" 
"I think maybe we're all like that, but to others it looks like we're grabbing at life?! Your book. Your website. Your blog. Your music course. Your other music offerings. Your kids. Your workouts."

And suddenly, in a little puff of encouragement, i could see myself differently. Not with a track record of pathetic little failed offerings, but instead, with a fist full of lovely little blossoms of life that God has allowed me to grasp, and breathe in their fragrance... (and sometimes let go of too). And a lot of these little blossoms came about because i took the time to be quiet and ask for direction, and pursue the things that brought me joy for His glory. So, in light of the new year, and resolutions and fresh beginnings, i want to share some of the thoughts that i have on goal setting. 

For starters, I try to pick something that I wouldn't normally do if I didn't resolve to do it! When I wanted to learn to run, I signed up for a 10k race. I had never done anything like that before, but by resolving to run a 10k, I knew I would gain a neat experience that would teach me about running! i'm never gonna forget my littles cheering for me as my feet pounded that trail. It was a fantastic goal that gave me joy in it's pursuit. This year, i made a resolution to complete 365 workouts in 2017! Now, normally - i would work out lots, and i'd have lots of active rest and rest days too! But i was inspired by another mama of 8 who completed the challenge to, "push play every day" and so i joined in! i'm looking forward to seeing the impact that this goal has on my life. 

Secondly, I try to choose goals that have measurable outcomes! For example, instead of, "eat healthier", I might make it my goal to hit certain macros 5 days a week! Macros are something that i  can measure, and when I track my macros, it helps me be mindful of the big picture of my nutrition. This year, i didn't have a burning desire to get finicky about my nutrition, so i went a different direction. i wanted to write more... but i have felt unable to these past few years, so I made it my goal to write on my blog once a week. By the end of the year, i should have 52 tiny snapshots of thought in 2017... and i hope i get to be a better writer in the process.

I also try to choose goals that have an ending. One year, I wanted to write a book, so I thought hard about what message was important enough to write about. After that, I chose a vehicle (simple story line) that I could use to communicate that message. That January, I signed up for Nanowrimo. It was a way to commit a chunk of time to write. The chunk of time was the month of November. My husband and kids knew I had committed to it and they were supportive and patient with me while I gave it my all for that month. At the end of the month, I had completed my first rough draft. It's not a New York Times bestseller, but it's a little piece of my worldview that I wanted to capture... and I did it! If it had been an open ended goal, i might have lost heart, but because there was an end in sight, i could focus on that task and my family could support me knowing it wouldn't last forever. i really would love to do Nanowrimo again another year, but i know that this year is just not the right time. This year, my daughters challenged me to read a 365 day devotional... My three oldest daughters are 20, 18 and 16. One is married, another enrolled at a local college and the third one is my lone public schooled kid. They are always going in different directions, and there is such a comfort in looking at scripture and knowing their eyes are reading it too. It's a one year commitment... but only a year. We can finish strong because we know we can *finish*.

Finally, I try to look at different areas of my life and decide where I need a little push. Sometimes I make goals to be consistent with a certain area of homeschool, sometimes it's a spiritual goal, sometimes an area in my marriage needs attention... fitness, home organization, passions, friendships, parenting... they are all different areas that are sometimes strong, sometimes weak - all in seasons... Sometimes i look at my goals and think they seem a little shallow... Sometimes they are goals that have the potential to wreck and challenge and change me at my very core. Both kinds of goals have their place... they truly do.

And so i guess looking back, i have made my little grabs at life. And i intend on continuing to do so with courage and intention - as we welcome the blessing of a new year.

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