In order to have productive days we need to make sure our days revolve around our priorities and bring us closer to our goals. However, we can’t do that until, we first figure out what our goals and priorities are. This post is devoted to doing just that.
Let’s start with our priorities. By definition, our priorities are the things that we value as more important than everything else in our lives. Your list of priorities might include things like God, your spouse, your kids, your job, etc. Within your set of priorities, some will rank higher than others.
In order to help you select and rank your priorities, I created a worksheet which you can find in the resource library. Just click the link to gain access to this and other useful resources.
The first step for determining priorities is to spend a few minutes thinking of and writing down the things that are most important to you. No one is going to see this list except you so be honest, especially with yourself.
As moms, we often feel pressure from others and even ourselves to always put our families first. In some cases, people will swear up and down that their family is the most important thing in their life, but their actions tell another story. They will regularly sacrifice family time in order to get ahead at work.
This is not intended to be a judgement on what your priorities are. The important thing as far as this book is concerned is for you to be honest with yourself in regards to what your priorities are.
Once you have your list of priorities, the next step is to rank them from most important to least important. This part can be super hard but also extremely necessary.
Having your priorities in order is key for both goal setting and decision making. You want the decisions you make and the goals that you set to align with your values. If one of your priorities is having a close knit extended family while work is farther down the line, this can influence whether you take that job offer across the country or stay where you are.
Priorities are the kind of thing that can change many times throughout your life. There are of course the big milestone that can affect your priorities like marriage, the birth of a child, sickness, etc.. However, priorities can also change for more subtle reasons. For example, an article that changes your view on what a healthy diet consists of or the death of a distant relative may change your perspective on life. Or you may slowly change your priorities just based on becoming older and wiser.
Whatever the reason may be, priorities change on a regular basis. It’s important to check in with yourself at least every 6 months to review your priorities and ensure that they are still accurate to how you feel.
Priorities form the foundation of goal setting and decision making. When you are clear on what your priorities are it is far easier to choose to do the things that coincide with them and not do the things that don’t.
With your priorities in mind, the next step is to set goals. Often people set goals at the new year with great hopes and high expectations. They make some progress towards their goal in January and maybe even into February. By March they have fallen off the wagon completely and by mid year all hope of ever achieving their goals is gone.
This is super ineffective and disheartening. Goal setting is not just picking something you want to happen and then just hoping you’ll figure out how you are going to do it as you go along. Goal setting in fact requires planning and thoughtful consideration. Here is the process I have found to be the most successful when setting goals.
The first step is to brainstorm all of the things you want to accomplish. This can be anything from saving for a family vacation, to getting six pack abs. From this list you are going to select 3 goals to be your main goals for the year. . These 3 goals should cover various aspects of your life including personal and professional. Your goal might be to have 2 date nights a month with your spouse this year, make $1,000 a month from your side hustle, and publish your first book. Or they might be lose 25 lbs by the end of June, get a promotion and raise at your current job by your anniversary date, and take the family to Disney.
Whatever your top 3 goals are, there are certain characteristics that your goals must have. This will allow you to set goals that are difficult but not impossible. You want your goals to stretch you and challenge you, but not defeat you.
In particular, there are 5 characteristics which every goal should have. You can remember them by using the acronym, S.M.A.R.T.
Specific - Your goals should be well-defined. Instead of “I want to lose weight” you should say “I want to lose 12 lbs.”
Measurable - Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. In our example it is clear that either you have or haven’t lost 12 lbs. You can also break down this goal into increments for example losing 1lb a month.
Attainable - When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. Is your goal possible? If you are 5’7” and 100 lbs soaking wet, losing 12 lbs is not attainable or recommended. If you are 4’11” being a Rockette is just not in the cards. You want to pick goals which are in the realm of possibility.
Realistic - To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both difficult and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how distant your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress. Is your goal possible for you at this time? If you are pregnant and due in April, it’s probably not realistic to make a deadline for a major goal on May 1.
Time Bound - A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. Say, “I want to lose 12 lbs in 90 days” instead of “I want to lose 12 lbs.”
So when selecting your 3 main goals for the year, you need to set S.M.A.R.T. goals that give you something to work for and motivate you. These goals can relate to any aspect of your life. In fact you can set multiple goals for the different areas including self, family, work, financial, entertainment, and friends.
Having a goal gives you something to strive for. It gives direction to your days. It lets you know what you are working for.
Here’s an example of how goal setting can change how you look at a task. The task at hand is Applying for Kindergarten. Without setting goals, this can seem like an arduous and tedious task. It requires reading and research and lots of comparisons of schools and programs. You have to find your district and zone and then check out the schools and the staff. It’s a lot of work.
Now instead we will set the goal of getting our preschooler into the best Kindergarten program available by December 31. Now, we have a target and motivation. We can breakdown our goal into measurable steps. We have a deadline by which we must complete our task so we have the push we need to actually make time to get it done.
Using goal setting can completely change our mindset for the things we have to do. Well set goals allow us to create a plan of attack and self motivate.
Once you have your 3 main goals for the year, the next step is to set a few goals for each of the main areas of your life. These include personal, family, entertainment, work, social, and health. These goals should be a lot smaller than your main three goals for the year and can have a shorter time frame like a month.
Some examples can include having 2 date nights with your spouse, drinking 1 extra glass of water each day, calling at least 2 friends, and having a family game night. These goals shouldn’t compete with your main goals and should be congruent with your priorities.
Take some time to figure out your 3 big goals for the next year and then smaller goals for the next months. Write them down and put them in a place that you will see everyday like by your mirror or next to your vitamins. Make sure that your are constantly reminded of what your goals are.
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