What do you think of when you think about a new year? Times Square, fireworks, countdown to midnight, Auld Lang Syne, resolutions? I think of year 2000 when the Y2K bug was an actual worry. I vividly remember the fire we built outside, the black rocket firework I saved for midnight, and the feeling of anticipation as the world wondered what would happen to the computers.
Most recently, though, I wrote out a list of about 10 resolutions, taped them inside my closet, and stopped noticing them around April. Fortunately, I did realize I had abandoned my original resolutions, and I began thinking of a more practical approach for the remainder of the year (and life, for that matter).
The concept of goal setting is a little different than new year’s resolutions, though I’ll save my more in-depth thoughts on goal setting for another post. The most important thing about goal setting I want to emphasize today is figuring out how to take a goal and translate it into bite-size, every-day habits and principles.
Let me clarify on the front-end: this is not a check-list for a legalistic way to manage your life. There is a stark contrast between legalism and self-discipline, and I’ve learned that without an intentional plan, no positive change will ever occur.
So I identified seven goals, gave each a timeline, then asked myself this question:
“What critical daily habits must exist in order for me to achieve my goals?” I call it my Every-Day List. Like most things that actually work, it’s simple. And like most simple things that work, it’s not always easy.
Begin In Peace
The first thing I do at the beginning of the day needs to establish focus and the tone for the remainder of the day. For me this includes:
Show Up Powerfully
Whether work or play, I am a firm believer in full buy-in. I’ve started saying “no” a lot more lately, simply for this reason. All in or all out.
Intentionally Encourage One Person
Words give life or take life. I can’t save the world, but I can speak life to one person. Andy Stanley once said, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” I would also put affirmation in this category. I want to throw fuel on the fire when it comes to others growing in their strengths.
In a previous post I listed out my top personal brand characteristics and "grateful" was among that list. Gratitude leads to all forms of compassion and generosity. At any given moment there are innumerable things to be grateful for, and an attitude fueled by gratitude directs me towards deep joy and contentment and encourages others to see beauty.
Spend Quality Time With the Most Important Person In My Life
My relationship with my wife, from now until the day I die, is the number one priority on my list. How men sacrificially lead their wives is a powerful testimony of what’s in their heart.
Reflect and Record
Two to three times a week I revisit my goals to check for alignment. Am I on track? Is the journey going in the direction of the destination? What am I learning? These thoughts land in one of two places: the small notebook I carry everywhere or in Evernote.
Each of these six activities contribute to the emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being I need in order to operate at a level that allows me to achieve my goals. Of course, each of my goals have their own version of bite-size chunks, and I could go on for days for how those break down. My Every-Day list just comes beneath and supports the rest.
In reality, most of my days don’t look like what I described. I am terrible at waking up earlier than I should. My breakfast is often two cups of black coffee as I am checking my email while stopped at a red light on the way to work, rather than “beginning in peace.” And I know for a fact I am a work-in-progress when it comes to loving Lacie the way a husband should. I fall short more often than I would like to admit.
Every single day is a new, grace-filled opportunity at establishing habits that support my goals, and I refuse to give up on that. The alternative is a casual, misguided, average existence (if you’re lucky).
What’s number one on YOUR list this year?