4 Ways to Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

I kissed New Year’s resolutions goodbye a long time ago. I know I’m not alone because studies show more than 90% of people do the same - either intentionally, like I did, or unintentionally by ending the year with long-forgotten resolutions. 

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It’s so easy for the year to start strong with a shiny list of ideas and wishes, supported by plenty of enthusiasm and motivation, but then life gets busy and demanding. Before you know it, the year is gone.

As an entrepreneur and as a leader of a team, I know how to set goals and meet them at work. I do it all the time. Am I perfect at it? No. But, history tells me I’m pretty good at getting stuff done - and I can even mobilize other people to jump on board for the journey. I finally had to ask myself, “Why aren’t those best practices translating to the rest of my life - to my health, my relationships, my dreams?”

For the last few years, I’ve been on a journey of upping the intentionality in my life because I’m simply unwilling to leave things of such great importance to chance, and I think I’m finally finding my sweet spot. 

I look forward to ending the year with a few days of concentrated prayer and reflection. Seriously - I anticipate these days All. Year. Long. This year, I used my friend Jenn Jett Barrett’s Reflect & Refocus Worksheets to guide part of my time. (Whether you are reading this in January or August - it’s not too late to work through them!) David and I talked through each category over morning coffee, a lunch conversation, and a dinner date. We also made a point to talk through how our lives and schedules are working for our family, and we put some key dates on the calendar (like our summer family vacation). I spent a lot of time journaling, praying, and reading scripture. Then, I brainstormed a list of goals for 2019, but that wasn’t the end; it was really just the beginning.

If these priorities are going to live and breathe, I need to apply practices that will get them moving and keep them in front of me. After all, goals without a plan are really just wishes. 

Here’s How I’m Going to Keep My Eyes on the Prize:

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  • Be specific and measurable. Generalities don’t cut it! (Can I get an “AMEN?”) The goals need to be clear, specific, and measurable. Part of being measurable is attaching a deadline. For example, instead of saying, “Read more,” try, “Read 12 books by 12/31/19…” On my list, I even jotted down a few books I want start with. Then, I went directly to Amazon and ordered the ones I didn’t have.

  • Schedule goals or related tasks. Otherwise, a “good time,” or “enough time,” or the “right time,” or just “time” in general will never come. I use an electronic calendar to manage my work and personal life - if it’s not on the calendar, it’s not happening. You prefer paper? Rock on, my friend. You do you. But the point is, if working on my goals doesn’t land on the ‘ol calendar, it probably won’t happen. Why? Because when free time comes I will forget and default to Netflix. True story. Netflix isn’t a bad thing at all, but if I’m not careful I will have done a lot of binge-watching a not much goal-achieving. Here’s an example: Thursday nights after my kids go to bed has been reserved for writing. If I don’t see an appointment (with myself) to trigger my memory, Thursday nights will be used for a million other things except the one thing I intended: writing.

  • Review often. Duh. My rhythm of reviewing priorities at work has become second nature, but year after year my New Year’s resolutions were written down and never reviewed again. For the first time, I’m using a planner that starts with a list of annual goals. (I don’t use the planner for calendaring, it’s actually just for my daily to-do list.) Reviewing my goals is the perfect addition to my morning routine. I will no longer be able to forget what I committed to, because I will actually look at the list. Just this tiny bit of increased awareness will make a huge difference!

  • Share. Accountability can be a beautiful thing. I’m not sharing my whole list with the masses, but I have a few close friends who love me enough to defend my dreams and ask me hard questions. They will be the ones I text when I get frustrated and want to quit. They are the ones who will care enough to pray with me and for me as my list unfolds. They are the ones who won’t think a single thing on my list is silly. And, they are the ones I will celebrate with when these priorities become realities.

None of this is rocket science, nor have I stumbled upon some hidden secret of the universe. It’s all very common sense. You know what? I’m glad, because I can DO common sense!

Friends, if we do these simple things - if we keep our eyes on the prize, one day after another - movement will happen. And, so will your goals.

Here’s to a very happy 2019!

Please join the conversation - I want to hear your thoughts! Which of the above tips are you going to try to keep your eye on the prize this year?