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Goals vs Habits

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It’s the third week of January and I don’t have my yearly goals written out or a plan in place to reach them. For a gal whose to-do list generally has its own to-do list, this is rather nerve-wracking, to say the least. Just thinking about it gives me heartburn.

But somehow, I haven’t been able to sit down and map out a master plan. Part of it is the niggling suspicion that the system I’ve been  using may not be working for me anymore.

When I pulled out last year’s goals, I realized I’d met almost none of them. And the schedule I’d set for myself had lasted about two weeks. But I had a fabulous year! Opportunities I’d dreamed of for years, but not planned for (like the writing trip with Wycliffe Global Alliance last summer) were amazing and incredible. But I can’t check them off my neatly articulated “goals” list.

I’ve read blogs and articles until I’m cross-eyed. Overall, the advice seems to fall into two camps: rigid goal setters/planners vs less structured productive-habit proponents.

I’ve been a card-carrying member of the first group for years and the rules are simple: set measurable, achievable goals and then divide your calendar into the steps/days/months needed to accomplish them. Then get busy.

The second group seems a bit more loose-y-goose-y–which my creative side really likes. Which is not to say this approach advocates laziness or “hoping things will happen.” There is a healthy block of self-discipline involved and it includes ways to measure progress, but this approach doesn’t require minute-by-minute scheduling. Basically, the idea is that if you change your life habits — like setting a daily word count or getting up an hour earlier each day–you will set yourself up to succeed.

Some argue that both approaches are really just differences in semantics, and maybe they are. But for anyone trying to accomplish some creative endeavor, we have to trick our minds into getting past the mental blocks and moving forward.

I think this year I’m going to try the second approach. I will incorporate some productive habits into my life and see where those take me.

What about you? How are you going to angle your life towards success?

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    The Conversation

  1. debianne says:

    I’ve spent some time thinking on this…since I usually have a more “willy nilly” approach to goals. I’m more a “spontaneous” type than a “set in stone” personalityl!
    The first thing I needed to conquer was my definition of “success”. We all know the world’s definition of success…wealth, power, “here and now” type accomplishments.
    BUT, what is God’s definition of success? I think God’s measure of success involves my obedience and faithfulness to Him, regardless of opposition and personal cost. His measure of success is whether or not I am being loyal to Him in my personal relationship with Him and in my life, and whether I am accomplishing His goals & purposes for my life.
    I want to have flexibility in my day, my life, my plan to see what measure of success God has in store for me! Just a thought….debianne
    “God’s call is for you to be his loyal friend, to accomplish His purposes and goals for your life” – Oswald Chambers
    Thanks for always making me think!

    • Connie Mann says:

      Debi–I am always amazed at how similar our thought processes are. I’ve been thinking through all the those same things, defining success, how God defines it, etc. I love how you define it!!! Many many thanks for sharing your thoughts and wisdom! It is always right on target!