I am admittedly a big fan of goal setting. From the time I was a little girl, I have always been driven to achieve. I love dreaming big, and the challenge that comes with accomplishing things dear to my heart.
Each Tuesday morning, I begin my work week by establishing a set of goals for the week and then mapping out what to focus on each day so that come Friday, I have made headway on projects and met necessary deadlines. It feels exhilarating when I get to 5pm on Friday and look back on all that was achieved. Frankly, it takes restraint on my part to not approach my days off the same way- creating goals for my leisure and relaxation. What can I say, goal setting is my love language, and sometimes I need a little help reeling it in.
Over the years though, I have learned that setting long term goals takes a bit more finesse than the weekly ones. These goals are innately larger and in many ways carry greater emotional weight. If we have to put off content creation for work by a few days due to unexpected meetings, it doesn’t feel like a huge loss. But if we began the year with a deep desire to finally start that business, and get to December with little more than a business plan outlined, the lack of progress feels like a failure and tends to weaken our confidence to deliver in the future.
Long-term resolutions require something our short-term goals never demand– long-term strategic planning. If you have a goal that realistically will take anywhere from 9-12 months to achieve, then a well thought out plan of attack becomes non-negotiable. No one wishes themselves into better health, or visualizes themselves into being fit. Believe me, I’ve tried. No, we all have to pick up those dumbbells, hop on that treadmill, eat cleaner, sleep better, and take those vitamins. And not just once, or sporadically, but consistently.
And there lies the rub. It’s not our planning alone that leads to great progress. It all comes down to execution, and how consistently we are willing to execute in order to achieve. Which is why I wholeheartedly believe that the success of your long-term goals will ultimately come down to the rhythms you create and keep.
When you think about the hopes and dreams you hold for the next 12 months, ask yourself: What rhythms will get me there? If you take time to reflect, you will find that each of your goals call for certain habits to be developed in your life. This is the fun part for each of us, where we get to experiment until we find our groove. Here are some things to consider when creating consistent rhythms to achieve your goals:
- What is realistc?
I love to write, and have some future devotional books in my heart to publish. But writing for 6 hours a day is just not feasible for my season of life. Instead, I can create a doable rhythm of writing for an hour a day, four days a week. What’s doable for you? You may not be able to pay off your debt by writing one big check. Most likely, you will be able to cut back monthly expenses in a few areas of your finances and increase your monthly payments towards debt reduction. When creating your rhythms, look for the sweet spot somewhere between impossible and easy. That’s where your rhythm over time will make the greatest impact.
- What will I enjoy?
Your rhythms should be life-giving, not soul-depleting. If you are looking to improve your level of fitness, but hate the gym, then don’t waste your money on the gym membership! Instead, create a workout routine from home or go for jogs or hikes outside. Rhythms are going to be a regular occurrence in your life, so make sure they bring you joy. The disciplines we tend to keep are ones that in one form or another bring us delight.
- How does it need to be scheduled?
Rhythms need to fit into our day-to-day lives. Plan ahead, and think through the frequency and best time of day for your rhythms. For the last 29 years, I have started my mornings with a rhythm of Bible reading and prayer. I’m a morning person by nature, and I know myself well enough to know that once my day gets going, it becomes harder for me to carve out time for my daily devotions. This rhythm is reflected on my daily schedule, and it impacts what time I get up each morning. Whatever rhythms you create, make sure they make it onto your calendar and factor in the best time of the day for you to consistently practice.
- How will I protect and nurture this rhythm?
Just like healthy relationships have clear boundaries, successful rhythms have clear boundaries. They must be protected and nurtured if they are going to be consistently practiced. Someone asks for a meeting at a time you’ve blocked for developing that business plan? Then say, “sorry, not available.” Made plans to make a healthy dinner at home but craving McDonalds instead? Call up your friend for a good dose of accountability. Set your rhythms up for success through accountability, good planning and prayer.