So you are ready to evaluate your life and make some goals. You have a few hours completely uninterrupted (we can dream, right?) to pray and think. As you look through each segment of your life, you come up with a list that looks something like this:
- Spiritual – Need to find concentrated prayer time rather than sporadic and occasional
- Home – Find a better solution to housecleaning on something other than an emergency basis
- Church – Exercise hospitality
- Education – Take a class at the rec center to learn a new skill
- Community – Volunteer to make a quarterly meal at the local Ronald McDonald House
- Health – Walk 10,000 steps a day
As you review this list of steps forward in each arena, which are also potential short-term goals, you look at them in light of your current life. You know that school is starting and the oldest is starting with a travelling team for the fall, so extracurricular classes will probably not fit well with those schedule changes. It is a good goal to exercise the mind and to meet neighbors, but now is not the best time.
You also decide to hold off on the quarterly meal until you can find a friend to share the commitment with you, for the sake of your schedule and financial resources.
Looking at the remaining goals, you feel they are equally attainable, so now it is a matter of choosing which one you will do now. Sometimes two work together well, as a housecleaning plan and walking; both will increase your activity level on a consistent basis. Or prayer and hospitality can support each other as you are motivated to pray for those you welcome into your home.
Remember: Don’t worry about the goals you don’t choose. They put you ahead of schedule the next time you sit down to evaluate. Remember that one step forward is better than none. And I assure you, no one can do everything all at once. Steady, gradual improvement over time will add up.
So let’s say you choose prayer and hospitality as your immediate goals. Great! Now how will you go about reaching those goals? Brainstorm ideas that would support your success. These are steps forward from where you are to get you where you want to be.
Is getting up a bit earlier enough to create the time in your day for prayer? Would a prayer journal help keep you on task and visibly show daily time? Do you need to hire a sitter or teach young children quiet time? Write done your ideas and choose what will work best for you.
Decide how you would like to exercise hospitality. Sunday dinners with other church families? A neighborhood picnic in your back yard each month of the summer? Hosting a Bible study? Hosting an exchange student? Friday game nights with youth in your church or neighborhood or school? Once you have that settled, put together a list of invitees. You can use the church directory, your knowledge of your neighbors (or determine to introduce yourself to each one), etc. Then plan your schedule (subject to change, of course) and your menus.
Now you can work the plan you created! You have a goal and know the steps you need to take to reach it.