I hate to break it to ya, but the motivation you have this month is unlikely to stick around all year long. If you really want to reach your goals, you’re going to have to make a plan (of sorts)- for the days you feel like it and the days you don’t.
If you’re Type A then you probably already do this well and don’t need this reminder. But if you’re like me and more of a Type B kind of person when it comes to organizing your time, then you may need a new idea or way of thinking to reach your goal(s).
For me, making and sticking to a plan is the hardest part of goal-setting. It seems whenever I do, it’s an even bigger magnet for the wrenches inevitably thrown into my day.
Confession time. I don’t meal plan. I don’t make to-do lists. I don’t do planners well. For me, writing something down doesn’t motivate me to do it more, and I get absolutely no thrill out of checking things off lists.
I used to berate myself for not being good at lists and organizing time. Then I learned to work within my strengths and personality- not the one I wish I had, or thought was most successful (Type A). I spent too many years suffering from the guilt of not planning well. Now I live with freedom in this area, and things work out much better. My stress is considerably lower too.
So how do I get anything done?
By focusing on my strengths.
Belief is one of my biggest strengths. I am driven by beliefs more than I am motivated by lists. When I associate a belief with something, I am way more likely to do it.
- I spend time with God because I believe He is the source of life. I don’t have to get out of bed and look at a list to tell me to read my Bible and pray. Those things are fueled by the belief that God is in control of me, and I want my days to reflect that.
- I parent my kids from a belief that they need consistency for healthy growth and maturity. By having consistent meal times, bedtimes, discipline, and responsibility they thrive (are better behaved), and I have more sanity. The schedule I have for them doesn’t dictate my parenting, my beliefs do.
- I run because it’s a barometer for my overall health. I believe fitness is important, and I feel better when I do it, so it drives me to prioritize it each week.
- I shop for groceries from the belief that if we have real food (not packaged meals) regularly stocked then I will have plenty of meals to cook for dinner every week. I don’t get a wrench thrown into my meal plan because the grocery store was out of a particular item or another item was on sale and wanted it instead.
- I make dinner for a family of seven from the belief that simple is best; complicated recipes are saved for special occasions and guests- or the rare moment when I “feel” like cooking/baking which are few and far between.
- I wake up extra early to write because I believe it’s when I’m at my best creative-wise. I desire to write way more than sleep. That belief also motivates me to go to bed earlier rather than waste time at night on mindless or meaningless activity.
I could go on and on, the point is, I’ve found a way to connect my strength to how I manage my days. That’s made a world of difference in planning out goals.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to calendars and planners. I do try. It’s just not a strength of mine so I do the minimum required to get the results I’m after. Our lives are measured by time whether I like it or not.
My yearly planning primarily happens the last two weeks of August after my kids go back to school. September 1st is when I kick off my “working” year. That’s when I think through how best to organize my days and weeks for the upcoming season. Often that plan is adjusted before it becomes rhythm. And once it’s a rhythm, I rarely look at it. It’s just a part of my days…until I (or my kids) enter a new season.
I’m not rigid about my schedule, there’s room for flexibility. But oddly enough, the more I’ve approached my calendar like this, the more I seem to accomplish and the more disciplined I’ve become. Maybe because I don’t feel like I’m doing things I have to, but by aligning my time with my beliefs, most everything I do is because I really want to and what I believe God has called me to.
I’ve struggled to share my thoughts in this area for several reasons- the biggest one being that I feel like a rare breed in this area. Feeling rare fosters insecurity, which is a struggle of mine. But now that I’ve seen how I can leverage my Type “B”ness for success, I’m more confident in who I am.
My encouragement to you is to find what works best for you when it comes to planning your goals. Figure out your strengths first and align your plan with your strengths.
If you need a to-do list, then by all means make one and check each item off as you do it. That is your way to reach your goal. Embrace it. Don’t be ashamed of it.
If you need a different planning method, don’t be afraid to blaze a new trail. The point is for YOU to reach YOUR goal, not someone else’s.
Think ahead about how you’re going to respond when things are less than ideal. If you have a fitness goal, how are you going to keep it up when you travel? If you have a nutrition goal? How are you going to eat healthy when you’re at Chuck E Cheese for ALL the kid’s birthday parties?
Make a Plan A for good days, and a Plan B for bad days. It’s when we can’t get ourselves motivated to do what we want that it matters most.
Whatever you do, make some kind of plan to reach your goal. Then adjust when necessary and stick to it when possible. If you approach it like this, chances are you’ll hit it more often than not.