The importance of setting goals, making plans, & embracing challenges.

I’ve mentioned before (and many of my friends are well aware of the fact) that I am a Image“plan” person. I thrive when I’ve written down goals – SMART goals- for every area of my life. Not to mention the to-do lists that follow the goals. I LOVE TO-DO LISTS. 

Some people think that this way of living is boring. Why not just be spontaneous, and take life a day at a time? I mean, you can’t have every hour of your life planned, am I right? 

First of all, I love spontaneity. Really and truly. Especially when it involves my free time. I do have a tendency to over-commit, and free time usually fills up very quickly because of this. However, I don’t like to plan activities too far in advance. 
For example: Say it’s Monday, & I decide “hey, I should go swimming on Friday because it’s my day off!” But then Friday comes and all of the sudden I’m not in the mood to go swimming, or I’d rather go hiking or shopping or MAYBE I just want to nap all day. 

Even if I do plan things in my free time, they generally change. Someone cancels, or it’s raining outside, or the museum is closed for some strange reason. I don’t fret about these things at all, I simply embrace what is available to me that day. Maybe it’s more boring because no one can hang out (in which case I probably needed time alone to recharge) OR it’s much more exciting than I could have imagined and I get to see an old friend I hadn’t seen in forever. 

ImageBob Goff wrote something awesome in his book “Love Does“: He doesn’t ever schedule things with people. Someone will contact him and say “let’s meet for lunch next week and talk” and he will respond with “how about meeting for lunch now?”. That way he doesn’t have to “schedule people in”; he simply spends time with people who are willing and able and he very rarely has to say no to people. I’m trying to be more like Bob in this way. 

So, being spontaneous is GREAT. Why do I plan anything at all?
If I don’t set goals, nothing will get done. And the goals that I do set I ALWAYS see accomplished. 

I get discouraged a lot because I am a “plan” person. Things don’t ever go the way that I plan: the timing is mostly wrong (things don’t happen quickly enough) or I’m not as fantastic at things as I hoped to be. 

As soon as I became “flexible” with the way in which goals were accomplished and pushed through the challenges, the more I accomplished and the more satisfied I am with my life. 

In the past year, I’ve set a handful of goals. A lot of them seemed absolutely bonkers to other people. These goals included:
1. Move to Portland, OR. 
2. Take a trip to Haiti. 
3. Do well and promote within Starbucks. 
4. Become a runner and live a healthier lifestyle. 
5. Enroll in classes to continue my Social Work degree and be able to pay for it.
6. Find a church home. 

It’s weird looking at these goals I set one year ago and see the progress I’ve made. Let’s be honest: this year has been brutal. And I’ve wanted to give up and I’ve certainly cried more than a reasonable amount of tears. 

But finally being able to cross something off of a giant life “to-do” list is quite possibly the best feeling in the world. I cannot even comprehend that I moved to Portland two weeks ago, spent two weeks in Haiti, am a shift supervisor for my pre-degree dream job, beat my best mile time yesterday, am enrolled in classes for the fall, and will have every Sunday off to work towards the goal of finding a church family. 

I write my goals down so that they continue to be at the forefront of my mind. If they stay there, I just have to ask myself simple questions each day: “Is what I’m doing / saying / how I’m acting going to help me reach one of my goals?” If the answer is no, I just redirect my thoughts and actions. Image

If you haven’t checked out Donald Miller’s Storyline tool, I strongly recommend it. It isa great use of social media in goal setting. You choose a few of your “roles” you wish to play in life (for example, my roles are “physical being”, “Social Worker”, “spiritual being”, etc) and create goals for each role. It’s so fantastic! (

Current goals, challenges, and needed prayers

When I cross off a goal as “accomplished”, I normally celebrate the victory in some way; this week I have treated myself to ice cream and purchased some new work clothes. 

After the celebration, however, the wheels start turning again. What’s next? After accomplishment comes the act of setting new goals and embracing the challenges. 

A few of my new goals include getting involved in communities in this beautiful city, finding an organization to volunteer with, learning to carry on conversations with the homeless and needy in a way that is full of love instead of fear, continue to work towards training for a 5K, develop in my position at Starbucks, get a 4.0, gain Oregon residency, join a church small group, purchase a bicycle, get married, and have kids.

(WOAH. Everything except those last two, y’all. Just making sure you were paying attention!)

Kaizen. Continual improvement. Being more of the person Jesus intended us to be by following the Holy Spirit and relying on His strength. 

I love you guys so much and am so glad to be doing life with you. 
So much love, so much hope. 


2 thoughts on “The importance of setting goals, making plans, & embracing challenges.

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