You know what you want (usually), but do you know how to get it? A goal can look so attractive in the abstract, but without a path we often look and move on. Especially when goals seem ambitious or overwhelming.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Just like it is impossible to swallow an elephant whole, we can’t tackle everything we want to improve overnight.
Chapter 4 of Shopping for Time discusses the value of a regular personal retreat, including time to evaluate your priorities and come up with an action plan. Even if it is just a morning to yourself twice a year, you will benefit from the time looking back and then forward. Prayerfully consider each of the arenas we discussed last week. Then come up with just one step forward for each.
You will benefit the most if your steps are clear, measurable and attainable. If you don’t know exactly where you are going, you won’t arrive. If you can’t tell if you arrived, you won’t feel success. If it is impossible to achieve, you never will. Revise what you have until you know specifically what you want to accomplish and that you can expect to get there.
Once you have done that, look at the steps you assembled and pick one or two to implement in the next 6 months. Take into account your situation and what is involved and other responsibilities that factor in. But it is important to pick one. As the authors of Shopping for Time* said,
This is extremely important. If you target too many areas for growth, you may fail to make progress in any of them and end up more discouraged than when you began. However, if you develop a plan to change in one area, you will be surprised at the dramatic difference it will make…Remember this: even if you only change in one area, you will be doing more than if you hadn’t sat down to plan at all.
You did not waste time coming up with all your steps. You can go back to them for consideration the next time you evaluate. They also help you make the best choice each time you plan.
Next week we will look at an example for how this can work. Until then be thinking about your areas and when you can devote some time to goal-setting. The dividends are available to you, if you make the investment.
* Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and NOT Be Overwhelmed, by Carolyn Mahaney, Nicole Whitacre, Kristin Chesemore and Janelle Bradshaw, Crossway, 2007, page 61.