Updated: Apr 18
Seasons set the rhythms of life. Each season lends itself to certain activities and holidays. We develop seasonal habits and even seasonal menus. Spring is typically known as a season of cleaning, renewal, and refreshing. Each season is a fresh start, a reset of sorts. That is why I love the changing of seasons. It gives you the opportunity to reflect, refresh and reset in all areas of your life. It's the perfect time to review and evaluate your yearly goals and reset your focus. This is a good practice. Your goals may change as the season changes, especially as circumstances in your life change. Keep your purpose in line with your current season.
You may not be a goal-oriented person. I get that. Setting goals can be intimidating and overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be that way. Perhaps you are going about it the wrong way. Or you just do not know where to start. Possibly, you are just randomly selecting things that you think you ought to be doing and not the things that line up with your values and what really matters most in your life.
That is how I approached goal setting for years. I would get all fired up in January to set goals but would become so discouraged with the process that I’d give up on it by February. I was going about it all the wrong way. Sometimes I did not even know where to start. Then when I did start, I was trying to make too many changes, too soon, and expecting big results without even evaluating the validity of my goals for my current situation. Often the things I focused on were not actually the things I needed. I have learned that this approach never works. One year I specifically remember joking that from now on my only New Year's Resolution was going to be, "What Odds." (Irish English expression meaning it makes no difference, it doesn't matter). Well, that might be the proper attitude for the nitty gritty things that do not matter, like not sweating the small stuff, but what about the things that really do matter? What about when our actions do make a difference? What about the people who are affected by our choices and decisions? These thoughts began to linger in my mind.
Then something shifted my perspective. I stumbled upon a planner that had a section at the beginning with a series of reflective questions as prep work for making simple and achievable goals. It was not daunting, and it was specifically relevant to my life. It helped me narrow my focus to the things that matter to me now in my current season of life. It helped me examine my core values and identify my gifts to reaffirm my life's passion. This created a major turnabout for me regarding the whole goal-setting process. I became excited. Through that process, I was able to put into words a description of the person I wanted to become. The person whom God called me to be. It recharged me! There’s something significant about seeing that on paper. It becomes more real.
At the end of that year when I sat down and reviewed those prep pages, I was amazed! I had achieved most of the goals that I had deemed worthy of pursuing. That was exhilarating! It was also the first time I had ever managed to do that, and that year just happened to be 2020. I sometimes wonder if Covid somehow played a role in this mental shift as well. Whatever the cause, since then, each January I sit down and repeat that simple process to set me in the right direction for that year. It is not complicated. You can do the same.
Goal setting is necessary if you are to effect positive changes in your life. You have to take action to make it happen. But before you can set meaningful goals you must take the time to evaluate your life and determine what really matters most in you.
Follow this simple Four Step Strategy to start.
See the Big Picture
Set Your Mind
Small Steps Forward
Strategy #1: Seasonal Reflection
John Dewy once said, “We don’t learn by experience, we learn by reflecting on experience.” So, schedule time now to review and reflect on your past year. What things went well? What did not go well? To help in this process complete the attached accompanying worksheets designed for this specific strategy. Write your answers to the reflection questions. Research shows that we maintain our focus, and retain more information on the topics about which we write. Plus, it engages us more completely in the process and increases our chances of taking action to follow through on our thoughts. Go on. Do that now. You got this! Click below to download the activity sheets.
Next: Part 2.