Maybe you’ve picked your word for the year. Maybe you’ve even decided on your resolution for the year. But how often do we actually accomplish our big, lofty resolution? How often do we remain faithful to our new workout plan or budget or self-care regimen? If you’re like me, the answer is—not so often. I start the year with good intentions, but those intentions don’t often translate into action. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. This year, though, I discovered a new way to plan my goals that actually helped me achieve some of them.
But let’s back up here. Why do we make these resolutions in the first place? Most people like new things. A new car, a new haircut, a new toy, a new relationship, and especially a new year. There is something so fresh and alive about newness that it makes us want to dive in head-first. We are ready to say goodbye to the past. But sometimes, while we love dreaming up the ideas, we don’t love dealing with the reality of the ideas.
The second and third weeks of January come and go, and we are owning our goals. But bit by bit, we slip. We neglect getting to the gym, we indulge in splurge meals a little too often, we miss attending church, we ignore close friends when they reach out, and we forget to read the Bible. Before we know it, summer is here, and we realize what we’ve done—or rather not done.
Sometimes it may not be a lack of discipline, but a situation or circumstance in our life that causes a disruption in our goals. We can resolve all we want, but when we experience a loss, get fired from a job, have an injury, or have to care for an ailing family member, our goals are usually the first to go. Those things affect our schedules and plans. And because of this, these new goals are now old goals, and we figure we’ll just try again next year.
But I’m determined not to have to use the phrase “hindsight is 20/20” again. I don’t want to wait for the dust to settle or have to look back and realize what I should or could have done.
What if we adjusted our goal-setting ways? It may be that we are setting goals for too long of a period. Instead of New Year’s goals and resolutions, what if made new goals each month? Monthly goals allow us to reevaluate 12 times over the course of the year. We have a new opportunity to see where we are every single month of the year and adjust accordingly. Here’s how it works:
1. Set the goals. This is the easy part. On the first day of each month, write your goals down. You have to decide what you are finished putting up with in your life. We can’t complain about what we tolerate.
2. Evaluate the goals. On the last day of the month, see what goals you met, partially met, or didn’t meet at all. Make some notes as to why you were successful or not.
3. Adjust the goals. Some of your goals may have been appropriate, while others may have been too challenging. Decide which goals to keep and which goals you should adjust or eliminate.
4. Repeat. Do this every single month of the year.
This past year was the first year I integrated this into my life. I wrote between six to eight goals on the first day of every month and evaluated them on the last day of that same month. Some goals were there month in and month out; others were new for the season I was in. And you know what? It worked! Here’s what is great: I did not meet 100 percent of my goals each month, but I still kept making goals and evaluating my progress—every single month. I remained consistent.
Month in and month out, although I remained consistent, I was not perfect. I set a goal to eat in a healthy way 80 percent of the month, but I did not always succeed. (Oh, the cupcakes!) I also had strong intentions to invest in couples with my husband each month. Some months we met the goal; some months we didn’t. However, I was consistent in my Bible reading 100 percent of the time, and I kept my workout regimen the entire year with the exception of when an illness or injury held me back.
Here’s the real win: Even when I didn’t meet my goal, I still felt progress. Eating healthy food and praying through my prayer circles 60-70 percent of each month is better than zero percent. So, I just kept setting goals and did my best to accomplish them … month by month.
Maybe monthly goals still represent too long a period of time for you. Choose your own length of time! You could set weekly goals. There are some people who even need goals for just one day. Whatever length of time you need is great. You do what helps you to accomplish goals that will lead you to become the person you were made to be!