How Goal-Setting Can Help You SIMPLIFY 2016

At the start of 2016, I was in the midst of job interviews, searching desperately for a career change that would allow me to have more time at home, with my husband and our family. I felt like I was drowning in stress and anxiety as a result of a jam-packed, albeit successful, retail career. Accepting a new position with a regular schedule and turning in my letter of resignation felt like coming up for air.

As a passionate journal-keeper, I have always loved celebrating the New Year. It's all about starting fresh and the possibilities seem endless. My new year in 2016 seemed like it started at the end of January, when I started my new career. I decided that this would be the perfect time to refresh and reset my focus for 2016. I wanted to set goals - real, actionable, achievable goals for my new year.

I also chose a word to represent 2016 - SIMPLIFY, and it means everything to me. Now that we're a little over halfway through the year, I thought I would take some time to reflect today and share with you how goal-setting has helped me SIMPLIFY 2016.

How Goal Setting Can Help You Simplify 2016

When I first started working on my goals for 2016, I wasn't really sure where to start. But, as you know, I am a huge fan of Lara Casey. I have always heard wonderful things about her Power Sheets (hmm...maybe a birthday gift idea, anyone?), and I saw she had done a series on Goal Setting at the end of 2015. Perfect!

It was absolutely everything I needed to reflect on the year past and focus on the year ahead of me. I knew that I wanted to live my life differently this year, now that I had a new job, and make the most of the extra time I have been given. She introduced me to intentional living, and it has been a passion of mine ever since.

Choosing my word for 2016

SIMPLIFY has so many meanings to me, but mostly it means that I want to make the most of this year. After so much time filled with anxiety and stress from my career, I found myself longing for peace and serenity. Writing down the word SIMPLIFY and identifying it as my word for the year felt like a breath of fresh air, one that I truly needed during that season of change.

I set 3 main goals for 2016, centered on the word SIMPLIFY and its many meanings in my life.

Goal 1 | Become close to God.

Jesus is first in my life - it doesn't get any more simple than that! I want to develop an intimate relationship with Him, knowing that He is guiding my steps each day.

For each goal, I outlined action steps, ideas, and encouraging scripture that would help me on my path to achieving the goal. My husband and I decided to start a two-year Bible reading plan together, and I included that as one of my action steps. I also listed prayer - together and on my own.

Halfway through the year, we've gotten somewhat off-track with our Bible reading plan. But that doesn't mean we've given up! Life gets in the way for a week or so, but we jump right back in and do our best to hold each other accountable. My favorite thing that's happened this year is that we are now praying together, before every evening meal and just when we feel it's needed. I love sharing that with him so much!

Goal 2 | Develop a healthy lifestyle.

Writing this goal down, I knew it was going to be the hardest challenge to overcome. I had really neglected my health while I was working a crazy schedule by not eating well, not exercising, and barely drinking enough water. A lot needed to change in 2016 to accomplish this goal!

The action steps I chose were based in simplicity, sticking to the basics of getting healthy. They included drinking 8 glasses of water per day, going for walks with my husband, getting outside in the garden more often, eating more vegetables, and exercising 30 minutes per day.

I may still have a long way to go, but I am really proud of the changes we've made this year so far! Halfway through 2016, I am now easily drinking more than 64 ounces of water per day. I started doing workout videos in our living room about 4-5 times per week. They're usually only 30 minutes, but sometimes they really kick my butt!

We love going for walks together, even though this summer has been unbearably hot. I'm proud of the hard work we've put into our garden together this year - it looks beautiful! We're eating vegetables more than ever before - I am often getting 5 servings of fruits & veggies per day! I haven't made the numbers on the scale a factor in this goal - what matters most is how healthy I feel. I'm getting there!

Goal 3 | Cultivate a spirit of contentment.

I realized that God is calling me to simplify my life and to focus my whole heart on Him. In 2016, I want to center my life on what matters most and cultivate a spirit of contentment. Are you starting to see how the idea for Cultivate Grace came about? It was just a natural progression of where God has been leading me.

My action steps for this goal were designed to give myself grace in making time for things that are important to me. Some examples I listed are to read a new book every month, keep a clean home through simple routines like "everything has a place," and setting (and keeping) a financial budget.

While I can't say I have been wholly successful in any of those areas, I can say that I have found contentment in ways I never have before. Today, I am finding joy in moments rather than material goods. And that's what truly matters to me.

Have you tried goal-setting before? What works for you? What doesn't? If you're feeling inspired to try goal-setting, but worry that you'll have to wait until January, forget it! No one says you have to wait to start fresh until the beginning of the year. Make your goals happen starting today with my simplicity challenge for this week. Here are some action steps to help you along the way:

  1. Reflect on the past year - what has worked well? What do you want to do differently?
  2. Make lists - start writing out everything on your heart. What is most important to you? Where do you want to spend your time? What changes do you want to make?
  3. Go back over your lists & choose 3-4 main ideas - these will become your goals!
  4. Set achievable goals - for each main idea, write out a few action steps (think of things that you'll actually do!) and reasons why this goal is important to you
  5. Celebrate - perhaps the most important part of the goal-setting process is remembering to celebrate! Start now by including how you will celebrate the progress on your goals.
  6. Remember that it's okay to be imperfect. You may not achieve your goals perfectly this year - I certainly haven't! But that's okay. Give yourself grace to press on and try again. Goal-setting is about growth and growth doesn't happen without some bumps and bruises along the way!
  7. Comment here to share your goals! Telling others about your goals is the best way to hold yourself accountable. I can't wait to see what you're going to cultivate this year!