Yes, I’m one of those folks who likes to set goals. I wish I were one of those folks who were excellent and disciplined in executing and accomplishing his goals more consistently. When I think about it, I fail to reach my goals either a lapse in personal discipline, an overly ambitious pie-in-the-sky goal, or a combination of these two. One of the lessons I’m learning from this is the importance of self-knowledge.
Accomplishing a goal is just about always a combination of focus, discipline, and hard work. But these elements all speak to the execution side of goals. At least as important, it seems to me more and more, is the setting side of goals: What am I really interested in accomplishing? What truly resonates with me as worthwhile? What goals represent a natural extension of who I am? On that last one, some goals may represent me being the me I’d like to be, but there’s still an unnameable “it” quality to goals that “fit” and seem to be natural extensions of who I really am that is different from ones that are too “out there” and, though interesting and perhaps even praise-worthy, don’t really resonate with my soul. So self-knowledge is important.
This year I am following a couple of rules: (1) have a relatively short list of “SMART” goals, (2) have someone with whom I am accountable, (3) set quarterly benchmarks and action items that help me “eat the elephant one bite at a time.”
That last one is critical and comes from my friend with whom I am sharing accountability. A mentor of his is big on thinking in terms of quarters for goals. So we are integrating this into both personal and professional goals.
So, here are most of my personal goals. This year, I used these headings/categories for my personal goals: heart, mind, soul, strength. Heart is relationship-related goals. Mind is intellectual/learning goals. Learning is one of my hobbies, truth be told, so this makes plenty of sense for me. Soul is my relationship with God. Strength is my health/fitness.
- I’ll not get into those specifically here, but I’ve got a practice for each relational sphere (spouse, kids, family of origin, friends) to attend to this year in order to nurture my relationships.
- Read 45 books
- Write 100 blog posts (average of 2/week)
- Finish a book manuscript
- Rationale: I love to read and enjoy pressing myself to read more and learn more through reading. I finished 37 books in 2009, a high for me, so I thought I’d push it a little further. As for the two writing goals, there are two motivations. First, writing helps me work out my thinking. If you can articulate what you think well, you’ve had to think through it more thoroughly and clearly. I can use that. Second, I’d like to improve as a writer and to do that I need to write, not imagine writing.
- Read the whole Bible in 2010
- Make a practical tool to help me practice “praying continually”
- Rationale: These are two “results-oriented” goals that together can help me go deeper and get more consistent in my devotional practice. Plus, I need to keep it simple these days. Balancing work and family is a contact sport for anyone, not just wanna-be contemplatives. Don’t want to dumb-down spirituality, but need to keep it earthy at the same time. Besides, bathing kids, doing chores, and hanging with the wife are the stuff of prayer as well.
- Run the Houston half-marathon in January 2011
- Rationale: Before I had kids I really enjoying running — for exercise, for clearing my head, for praying, etc. It’s been a while, but we’re done making new babies (just going to work with the ones we’ve got from here out) and they’re growing a little, which means that re-introducing some exercise habits is more realistic at this point. And this goal drags behind it other things I’d like to do like lose a few pounds and get a little more discipline, both of which and more happen when I run regularly.
What personal goals do you have for 2010?