Setting Amazing and Attainable Goals in 5 Steps

Three years ago, I started getting very serious about goal-setting. I saw behaviors in my life that didn’t match up with my dreams and desires. I realized I wasn’t who I really desperately wanted to be and I decided to change. Wanting to change is one thing, but actually doing the work and learning the self-discipline it takes to get where you want to be is another. I wanted so badly to change, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen overnight. That’s when goal-setting became a huge part of my life. They provided structure and amount to get me where I wanted to go. It changed everything. Here is what I have done for three years to create amazing and attainable goals.

Step one- I created a life goal list.
In order to map out a trip, you have to know your destination. Goals are no different. I wrote out my life goals on a lined sheet of paper. I wrote out who I wanted to be, what I wanted to accomplish, and all the big “when I grow up” dreams I had since I was a kid. This was eye-opening for me because the beginning of my journey, I wasn’t even close to the dreams I wrote down.

Step two- I made a realistic timeline for those goals.
Some of my lifetime goals are going to take my entire life to attain. For example, being generous and giving to others in need or being willing to take risks are not things you accomplish and then are done. They are goals I will be working on for life. On the other hand, some of my life goals I knew I could begin to accomplish within a year or two if I worked really hard at them.

Step three- I broke these larger goals into baby steps.
I created a year long list of baby steps, divided into months, then weeks, that I could take (like following a map) to make progress each day toward my lifetime goals. Sometimes my goals were really small. I did this purposely to build habits and self-discipline. You need both to accomplish larger goals. For example, I want to be a successful artist one day. This is a huge goal for me. It is intimidating and scary. Instead of running away from this ambitious goals because of my fear of failure, I decided to take the large dream and put it into attainable baby steps. I now draw every weekday building the habit of drawing in order to practice and grow in this area. I am not a successful artist yet and I don’t believe it will happen this year, but I am taking the necessary steps to achieving one of my biggest dreams.

Step four- I created an accountability system.
This is going to look different for each person, but having an accountability system set up is vital. I personally use graphing paper to check off my goals everyday. This works for me. I am very specific and checking it off of my paper gives me accountability and satisfaction in knowing that I am one step closer to my dreams.

Step five- I take scheduled breaks and reward myself.
Goals are hard work. Building self-discipline is like working a muscle. It gets worn out and sore, but stronger every day. I know what burn out feels like so I schedule in breaks. Using the example of drawing from before, I choose not to make myself draw on weekends. Because I do this, when Monday comes, I usually have new ideas for my drawings. I also reward myself. I am a rather frugal person, and sometimes the benefits that come with accomplishing a goal is enough, but there are times when I choose to reward myself with something special when I reach a specific goal. At times, is just what I need to stay motivated.

These steps have been life-changing for me. I have been able to push past my own expectations of myself and I am on my way to becoming the best me I can be. Try using these 5 steps the next time you want to set amazing and attainable goals for yourself.


Hosting Unexpected Guests (Lessons Learned)

My husband and I love having people over to our house. It isn’t because we are amazing homemakers are that we are amazing chefs. We simply enjoy sharing our lives with others. We are very used to having people in our home and through being foster parents, we have enjoyed having children stay with us until they can be reunited with their families again, which could be weeks to months or even over a year’s worth of time.
That is probably what led us to excitedly take in our dear friends (and their four children) into our home for 2 1/2 weeks while they waited for their house to be finished being built.
And it was a blast! The kids played together and us adults got to know each other even better. We shared many meals together and times of deep conversation.

It is worth every moment, but hosting someone in your home is hard work.  And as you can imagine, hosting a family of six is even more work!

During this time, not everything ran smoothly. I learned many things. For this post, I I am going to share my top 5 lessons:

1. Although, not a must, being organized helps a ton!
I am not the most organized person, but I know that if I leave piles of papers lying around on the counter, mail stacking up, toys everywhere, and beds unmade, it just creates chaos in my mind. A clean, organized room is like a refuge when things are out of routine. Having another family in the home meant having baskets of their items on the counters, new toys laying around, and more unmade beds. Having a home that is clutter-free makes it easier to keep things stress-free and picked up. Then when another family is there, it is more manageable and easier to pick out the items that belong to them, place them in an extra basket just for them, and tidy up.

2. Being prepared for unexpected guests helps when guests come unexpectedly.
During the time that our friends stayed with us, I had been attempting to use up what was in the pantry. For those of you that do this from time to time, you know that it involves much more creativity than a full pantry does. My pantry was so bare when they came that I didn’t have the ingredients that it was going to take to make meals for twice as many people. In my embarrassment, I went grocery shopping and spent well over my budgeted amount and had to go many more times during their stay since I didn’t have a well-planned menu. Being prepared by having extra food or by having freezer meals made and stored, would have made meal times less stressful. This is the same for laundry soap, bathroom essentials, and extra bedding.

3. Protect your morning time.
This is probably the biggest lesson I learned. I noticed I was staying up late, sleeping in the next morning, and then missing my morning routine due to my poor discipline. Protecting your morning time with the Lord is crucial. I was losing my patience more quickly and sliding into survival mode more often. I know that if I had been more protective of that sweet time of quiet in the morning, I would have been more prepared spiritually, mentally, and emotionally for the day. I would have been able to pause to enjoy instead of feeling frantic and constantly putting out fires. I have made that a priority since and have reaped the benefits!

4. Make time for yourself.
I know this sounds like a selfish thing to do, and it would be if your only focus was on yourself, but caring for your needs is important when caring for others. I usually try to fit this time into my nightly routine, but during this time of hosting, I was going days without taking the time to refresh. Because I didn’t take the time to care for my own needs, I was edgy after a few days and it affected the way I handled the day to day conflicts. I would suggest taking extra time to shower and make yourself presentable in the morning and relax in the tub at night. Take time to care for yourself and you will be refreshed and ready to care for your guests with more energy and confidence.

5. Let go of super high expectations.
As soon as our friends arrived, they asked what the rules were. I was startled by that question and totally unprepared. I was touched that they were respectful of how our home operates. Throughout the time they were at my house, there were many times when things started getting out of hand and together we had to reel in the children to keep things manageable. Lowering my expectations helped during this time. Their rules were going to be different than our own. They were going to have their own routine. There was going to be conflicts. Lowering what I expected them to behave like set me free from feeling anxiety and disappointments from them not “meeting my standards”. For example, my family enjoys my cooking very much, but not every family cooks the same or has the same likes and dislikes in this area. I did not expect some of the unpleasant comments towards a certain meal I had prepared and I left the table with hurt feelings, I learned that night that I was placing an expectation on the children to absolutely adore my cooking. Although it was painful and embarrassing, I am so glad I learned this lesson. Accepting your guests as they are, will make the time you serve them more enjoyable and they will feel blessed as well!

Because of the lessons I learned during this time, my husband and I have been discussing ways to do more hosting in the future. We are excited to see how God leads in this area.

I am sure I will be going back to this list to better prepare myself when the day comes when we have the opportunity to host more wonderful unexpected guests!