On Monday, I talked a little bit about why goals fail. Today, my post is going to zero in a little bit on one of those points: how to make your goals part of your every day life.
In our family, we created some long term goals for different things. One of those areas was financial. One was in raising our children. One was health wise. There were a few others that we have as well.
One unspoken goal was that we were going to stay married, “til death do we part”. Not only that, but we were going to have a happy marriage. Note that you can stay married and not have a happy or strong marriage. Just not filing for divorce does not constitute a good marriage. Amen?
If this is a goal, then there are a million tiny choices I can make daily, weekly, or monthly that will either build towards that goal or detract from it.
- I can choose to speak unkindly..or not.
- I can choose to build up my man….or criticize.
- I can choose to hang with my girlfriends…or value time with my spouse.
Of course, part of this goal is out of my hands. Marriage isn’t one sided. It takes two to tango and all that. The point is, I can choose to do my part to meet this mutual goal, or expect the other party to carry the full load.
With Goals in Mind, I can Evaluate How I spend my Time
We all need down time and rest and relaxation, so I’m not talking about beating ourselves up for getting rest.
Despite all of our “time saving conveniences” there are a thousand things that seem to clamor for our attention. If I spent all of my time and money doing the many “good things” that I have been asked to take part in, I’d never have any of either.
I often will look at different activities and opportunities with the long term goals of our family and me personally in mind. Does this activity add to or take away from these goals? Am I going to move away from my goals by doing this? Am I going to press forward in my goals by doing this?
I’m not always quite so together when it comes to the little things. This isn’t about having a regimented life or being all work and no play. It’s about aiming in the right direction, and taking whatever steps I’m able to on any given day.
There are many days when the best thing to do is just hang out at the beach, or play bowling on the x-box with one of my kids. But, that meets the goals I have for my children: to have a good relationship with my children, even after they are grown.
With a goal in mind, I have something to shoot for when making decisions.
As I have choices to make all day and every day, I look at the long term and short term goals I have, and I take my decisions, and aim them towards those goals.
It can be simple to the point of silly.
A coffee drink while out with my girlfriends may be only $3, but when I reflect on my goals (saving towards a house and following a diet for healing my liver), then I know what choice to ideally make. It comes down to this: which do I value more? Would I rather have a house or a fancy coffee drink? Would I rather have a healthy liver and weight loss or a fancy coffee drink?
I’ll be honest. I don’t always choose the house or healthy liver. But, I know I’m going to take another step in the right direction in two of my goals when I do press towards those goals.
Choosing our Goals Becomes Easier every time we do it.
When we make the decision to aim towards our goals (instead of away from them), the next time we are faced with a similar choice, it becomes easier.
In the last post, I mentioned how I had made a decision to enrich our emergency fund with every $1 and $5 that crosses my hands. This is not always an easy choice to make. My goal is to do this to build our savings. Reality is, $1 and even sometimes $5 can slip through our fingers quickly unless we purposefully tell those dollars where to go. How many times have you or I said, “But it’s only a dollar!”
Our well-padded emergency fund was funded by one of those “it’s only a dollar”‘s at a time. For the first time ever in my life, I found myself saying, “Wow, how did we get that much in there?” instead of “Yikes! Where did it all go?” when the bank statement for that savings account came.
While out grocery shopping this week, this was very difficult to do. We were having a tight pay period, and I had less than usual. Dear husband and I decided that I’d spend any $5′s I got as change, and only deposit the $1′s. Then, at the first stop of my grocery trip, to the day old bread store, the cashier gave me change back in $1 bills. He was out of $5′s and $10s. Deep breath. $16 and change into the emergency fund.
At the next store, I was also given change only in $1 bills. What? are you kidding me?
Obviously, no one was holding a gun to my head making me comply with this little “Rule” we had created, but we were both so pleased with the results we had seen so far, we choose to aim towards the goal anyway and were able to deposit all of this except $4 into the fund.
When you create goals — any goals– they don’t lock you into obeying them, but they give you something to aim at. You’re still free to aim elsewhere and choose a different direction. But with every choice you make, every day, if you aim at those goals, you’ll move yourself and your family closer to that goal.
What helps you meet your goals?