The Single Most Important Question for 2016

Christian Life

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January 1st is my favorite day of the year. While the day itself holds no magic and can’t guarantee resolution success, it’s a time of new beginnings, new goals, and reflections on what worked in the year past.

I shared on Instagram today a few of my goals for 2016. Over the years my goal-setting routine has morphed and changed, probably the most since getting married and now having little Adeline around. My goals don’t just pertain to me anymore! There’s a lot more to consider as I decide priorities for the year ahead. As I mentioned in previous posts, I use Lara Casey’s Powersheets to set my goals. This year Josh is doing them with me! Powersheets keep your goals to a maximum of 10, which will probably end up being five each for us.

What’s the point of setting goals?

Goals give us direction. They give us something to work toward; they give purpose to the daily grind. I have an “achiever” personality and derives great satisfaction from attaining goals – enough satisfaction I can put up with the difficulty of daily habits just by knowing the goal is in sight! Others won’t find making habits quite as “fun” as I do (find out your habit-forming personality by taking Gretchen Rubin’s quiz from her book Better Than Before!), and that’s okay.

How do we know what goals to set?

I’ve always divided up my life into four areas: spiritual, social, physical, and academic. Before Powersheets, I would set goals within each of these categories. My goals still reflect those categories even though I no longer officially use them.

These categories represent four aspects of human nature: the soul, the community, the body, and the mind. I believe all of these are incredibly important (with the spiritual topping the list, since our soul is what lasts eternally). My goals are meant to discipline each area of life, bringing into further refinement in order to make the most of my years on earth.

As Christians, all of our goals should stream from our primary purpose: to love God and to love others. Jesus said these were the two greatest commandments, and as such, all of our life goals should point back to those priorities. Therefore, we set our goals according to our purpose, and each day spent straining toward our goal will be a step forward in fulfilling what God has called us to do. That’s why it’s so dangerous to spend ourselves on goals that don’t echo the heart of God!

How can we be consistent?

According to the “Four Tendencies” Quiz I linked previously, I am what’s known as an Upholder. This means I crave order and will (generally) fulfill both outer and inner obligations – habits I want to form for myself (like running) or habits people need me to form (being on time). Even so, I am a procrastinator and “cop-out” queen if left to myself. In order to achieve my goals each year, I arrange my life in a fashion that FORCES me to do what I plan to do.

For example, in 2016 my spiritual goal is to read through the Bible chronologically. I’ve never read through the Bible in one fell swoop. So this time I’ve identified the problems keeping me from success and set up a system that will guarantee it:

Problem: The baby always cries when I sit down to study my Bible.

Solution: Have the baby swing by the kitchen table and keep my basket of Bible study items – concordance, Bible encyclopedia, journal, pens – right next to it. I can hold the baby while I study if need be.

My physical goals are to complete 12 weeks of Kayla Itsines’ “Bikini Body Girl” workouts (bikini reference aside, it’s a great program) and finish the second half of my Couch to 5k training. But as a mom to a three month old, I can’t make it to the gym most days.

Problem: I want to work out, but I can’t go to the gym because someone needs to watch the baby.

Solution: Get the gear necessary to continue working out at home while baby watches/naps, and do Couch to 5k when Josh gets home and can watch the baby.

My academic (mental) goal is to do Challie’s 2016 Reading Challenge, finishing 52 books off his list in the new year. Once again, I identified anything that might stop me from achieving this:

Problem: I want to read these books, but sometimes I rent too many books at once/can’t find time to read.

Solution: I DO have time, I’m just spending it on other things. Instead of watching TED talks while nursing, I can read my book. I can also stop renting too many books from the library and concentrate on one at a time.

Do you see how this works?

The biggest excuse when it comes to achieving any goal is “I’m too busy”. Whether it’s exercise, good diet, or cultivating a strong prayer life, busyness is not an excuse because here is the truth:

You will always be busy.

You have to decide: what will you choose to be busy with?

That’s the most important question for 2016.

When I was single, I was busy with college and work. When I got married, I was busy with that relationship, college, and work. Then I was busy traveling. And then I graduated with my degree, resigned my job, and had a baby – and now I’m just as busy! The busyness will never go away. We have to embrace that and make space for the things that really matter. How we do that is up to us.

If you struggle with habit forming, I highly suggest Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before. I have read all of her books and this one is by far my favorite. It will help you form habits in accordance with your personality type, which is a much more effective way to succeed!

A few of our other goals in the M household:

  • We are now completely sugar free and are jumping on board the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan in the New Year! I’ve studied this plan throughout 2015 and am so pleased with what I see (plus I love this family – the authors’ mother, Nancy Campbell, runs a ministry I follow called Above Rubies). Josh and I have been eating on plan in the month of December and both love it. That, along with exercise during and after pregnancy, is one of the reasons I’ve been able to lose all the baby weight!
  • No phones after dinner. I read about a family who stopped taking phones into the bedroom and then just shut them off after dinner. If things are urgent, people CAN get a hold of us! I believe this will set a great precedent for when Adeline is old enough to notice.
  • Working out at least four times a week (for both of us) and “training” for our 5k in the spring!
  • I’ve begun simplifying and streamlining my cleaning schedule, assigning days for laundry and other larger household tasks. I am also trying to “use up and spend out” the things I usually try to save (something I struggle with!) This is an ongoing “goal” of simplifying the house as whole and will be developing over 2016.

Below is the podcast I failed to post yesterday – in this episode, Lisa and I discuss cooking, why it’s important, and our favorite recipes!

What are your goals for the new year? Share them below! I love to hear new ideas and thoughts on this.

Blessings to everyone in 2016! God has great things in store.

Photo Credit: Autumn Duran