Thursday, December 28, 2017

How to Set Goals You Can Achieve in the New Year



No matter our age or economic status, we can have a better, more Christ-filled, 2018 than the year just past. Change doesn't come by chance, however, but by choice. If we want greater accomplishment for the Kingdom of God, we must make a plan and stick with it.

People often ask how I "do so much." The answer is simple. I pray about my schedule, prayerfully make a plan, and diligently follow it. There are plenty of "efficiency experts" willing to teach the "how" of organization, but, today, I'm sharing my own personal technique. 

I use a "paper" planner on a daily basis, always with two-page Month-at-a-Glance pages, as well as separate pages for each day. I keep a small sticky-note pad and a pencil in the planner for quick notes and updates. (The pencil allows erasures rather than strike-throughs.)

Everything goes in the planner, including grocery lists, things to do, scheduled meetings and events, and actions I want to be sure to accomplish. Call a friend, mail a letter, even things to ponder go on the calendar. It takes less than five minutes every day, but it yields big rewards over the course of the year.

The planner I used in 2018 was soft-bound and easy to carry. Unfortunately, they aren't available this year, so I've gone back to a brand-name planner/organizer. It's bulky and inconvenient, but has the tools I need. 

I chose to sacrifice the comfort of size for the convenience of tools.

A detailed planner allows me to review the past months and accomplishments, consider changes, and make new plans as I go along. If you don't have one, invest a few dollars in an organization tool that will help you all year long. 

I used my 2017 planner to identify areas on which I'll focus in 2018. First, my digital outreach faltered during the last half of the year. The demands of caregiving were unrelenting, and left little time for social media management or digital expansion efforts. This area is a prime focus for me in early 2018. 

Caregiving also made intense attention to my fiction manuscript nearly impossible because of the constant demands. This year, I'll finish long-overdue edits and fine-tune the story. Because of time constraints, this goes to the top of my to-do list. 

Digital outreach is a significant part of my ministry effort, and fiction is (I hope) a potential revenue source to help fund ministry. (I am peer-to-peer funded, and have to raise all my own support.) These two areas may not sound very "missional," but they make my ministry possible, and are in need of significant attention.

Once I identified my top three concerns for 2018, (ministry, fiction, digital outreach) I considered goals and actions to be completed in order to move from where I am to where I want to be. 

MINISTRY:

GOALS: 
1. Expand digital outreach 
2. Use experiences in Middle East to minster to Middle Easterners living in U.S.
3. Expand prayer ministry and coverage for missionaries 

ACTIONS:
   - New website should go live in the next few weeks. It will be a one-stop
     experience, and include blogs, e-courses, prayer calendar, upcoming events,
     and opportunities for participation and service. (There'll be a big learning  
     curve for me, but it'll be worth it.)
   - At least one major event for women, in addition to those already scheduled.
   - Renew acquaintances in the Arabic community. 
   - Connect with new Arabic pastor when he arrives and discuss ways to help.
   - Include Global Outreach board members in daily prayer lists.
   - Increase efforts at virtual prayer walks. 

WRITING:
GOALS:
1. Publication of first novel.
2. Monetize writing through blogging.

ACTIONS: 
   - Complete edits on my first novel.
   - Prepare a proposal for my manuscript and turn in to agent.
   - Expand my knowledge about writing and blogging by attending conferences 
      and taking courses online.
   - Start a new blog designed around healthy, fun living with intentional profit-
     making efforts. (ads, affiliate links, etc)

I also include personal and family life in the goals and actions program, as well as the other areas of my daily life. 

If you take a close look, you'll see that my actions include those that can be accomplished quickly (include board members in daily prayer) and those that will require most of a year to accomplish (a major event for women). 

As I tackle each major action, I'll make in-depth to-do lists. For example, to accomplish the edits on my first novel, I'll first need to review my "technique" books, and study two new books on writing. Then, I'll set aside time to work from home, block out my schedule (no meetings or speaking) and write. Each day will have goals and actions of its own.

Not everyone has the same "life areas" as mine. Perhaps your "areas" are Christian discipleship, family, and organization/ clutter-control at home. Write them down, set goals, make lists of actions to be done in each area. 

Use the goals and actions you've listed to make a "to-do" list and schedule it in your planner. Make them realistic. Volunteer with one ministry for a few hours a few times a month rather than overextending. Start small and work toward more. (We can always use help at Global Outreach.) Clean out and organize one drawer a day, in addition to all else you do, rather than try to do an entire room. 

Once you've made your to-do list, get started. Check off each action as you accomplish it, and carry anything undone to the next day. 

Do you want 2018 to look exactly like 2017 or would you like to accomplish more, make a bigger difference in the world, be more like Christ in December than you are in January? If we want a different year, the time to chose it is now.

What's your goal for 2018? What actions will you take? 

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." Proverbs 16:3 niv
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If this post has touched your heart, please like and share to help our digital outreach grow. Your help makes a huge difference. Thanks!

In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: Choosing Our Legacy: Why a Look Back at 2017 Matters for 2018

New website coming soon, with easy access to blog posts.