Lindsey felt stuck. She was bright, talented and bored. She was stalled in her career and overwhelmed in her personal life, and it was creating major stress.
The problem was she didn’t know which area of her life to tackle first, or how to come up with steps to move her forward. That’s where I came in.
As her counselor, I suggested she take an overall look at each area of concern by making a Healthy Balance sheet. By listing areas of her life where she wanted changes or improvements, we could develop practical next steps, set goals, and construct a plan.
I asked Lindsey to list what she was currently doing in each of these areas, and what she wanted to do. For example, in her spiritual life, she was going to church and occasionally reading her Bible.
First action: set some goals. Lindsey wanted to read the entire Bible in one year, start a Bible study for young mothers, and serve in some ministry capacity. Now we had to put the plan in place for her to reach each goal. To help, I used Gerald Egan’s model and his acrostic SMART as a jump-start.
5 Keys to goal setting:
To get results, Lindsey had to be specific enough about her goals to drive her to action. She needed to see measurable results each day, and she needed her goals to be situation-appropriate, congruent with her values, and realistic for her life. Finally, she needed to determine an appropriate time frame for reaching each goal.
Once we talked about each key it was time to consider a few questions:
- Now that you know what you want, what are some next steps?
- What can you do right now? Later?
- What incentives will keep you going?
- What do you need to do to stay committed?
Plans need structure to drive us to action. I asked Lindsey what sequence of specific actions would help her accomplish her goals, and which actions would be most critical to start? I also had her plan for obstacles by having her think about how she could be flexible and develop a contingency plan if her current plan wasn’t working. She could also choose to modify the plan along the way to adapt to changes in her life.
Having a plan for life goals helps us develop needed discipline and keeps us from being overwhelmed. The plan also gives us opportunities to reevaluate the appropriateness and timing of our goals. Thinking ahead helps us to anticipate possible obstacles and plan for them to the best of our ability.
To set your personal goals, begin by thinking what solutions make the most sense for you, then put these key principles into action to develop your plan. The possibilities for a better future will be endless.
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P.S. We’d love to know your thoughts, so please be sure to comment below. Each of our commenters will be entered in a drawing for our current FREE book giveaway, Mothers & Daughters: Mending a Strained Relationship by author Teena Stewart.
Rita Schulte is a licensed professional board certified counselor. She received her B.S. in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Rita has a private practice with offices in Fairfax and Manassas Virginia where she specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, anxiety and depressive disorders as well as grief and loss issues. In April, 2011 she launched “Heartline Podcast” where she talks with top leaders in the Christian counseling and literary world about cutting edge issues affecting the hearts and lives of people today. She also airs a 1 minute devotional spot Consider This on 90.5 FM in NC and 90.9 FM in Lynchburg, VA. Heartline airs on Saturday evenings on 90.5 FM NC and will be heard on Christian Life Internet Radio in the coming months. Her book, Sifted As Wheat: finding hope and healing through the losses of life is currently with Hartline Literary Agency. You can follow her at http://www.siftedaswheat.com or Twitter at Heartlinepod.
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