I'm kicking off 2014 with a rebellion against the new year's resolution. That's right, no resolutions in 2014. "Now wait," you might say. "Isn't having no resolutions really a resolution itself?" Perhaps. But what I'm interested in is what the resolution does to the soul. I'm not rebelling against goals, I'm rebelling against the list — the wishes we all make of pie-in-the-sky dreams that would be awesome to achieve but will largely go undone. Don't believe me, though. This phenomenon has been pretty heavily researched, showing that we're not very good at resolving. We make the list, most of us don't achieve it, and then we settle ... or get depressed ... or get cynical ... or worse.
So, no to resolutions.
But for those of you who know me, you'll know that I'm an achiever. I'm a living, breathing stuff-getter-done-er. I can't even relax without planning out how I'll achieve relaxation. So how can I say such a thing as no to resolutions? Because resolutions don't work. But goals, with plans ... they do. In fact, setting goals and making plans works quite well.
So, no to resolutions. Yes to goals, with plans.
Here's how this works for me...
Goal I make a huge list of goals. I pray over it, talk to my wife about it, and edit it. But in about a week, I'll have settled on it. I put those goals in different categories (9 of them to be exact). Spiritual, physical, emotional/mental, marriage, kids, work, financial, educational, and miscellaneous. I write them down, print them out, and put a laminated list in my journal, on my iPhone, and a few other places where I can see them.
Plan For each goal, I make a plan. If I say I want to read my Bible in a year, how am I going to do that? If I want to write a new book, what's the schedule? What are the little goals to get the big goal done? I write those plans down and put the important dates in iCal, with reminders.
Maintenance I have a weekly, 1-hour appointment with myself. Phone is off, computer is closed, journal is open, list in view. I'm simply asking myself and Jesus, "How am I doing? How's the plan going? Holy Spirit, what needs to be added or changed?"
Celebrate When I achieve a goal, I celebrate! Not usually in a big way, but I at least thank God, buy a coffee, high-five my wife, or something. When you win, thank God and throw a party!
None of this is Bible, and none of it is law. But it's been working for me pretty well in 2013. In fact, my biggest goal of 2014 is just to do those four steps above more consistently.