Next to me, as I sit in a Kansas coffee shop, is a cup of tea. Hibiscus Ginger Orange, to be precise, steeped for just under 4 minutes. Before this year I had never found a tea I liked; grass-flavored water, it all seemed to me. But when the new year rolled around, I decided to take a break from creamy hot chocolate and give tea a try. Seven weeks into 2013, it’s one of my new favorite thing.
I start with this because I think it’s indicative of how I’m approaching 2013: do things just a little bit differently. Some people get excited about new year’s resolutions, but rather than proclaim resolutions that I fail at by the end of January, I decided to set goals for the year. Sure, it’s kind of just a difference in name, but to me a goal is something that I’m going to reach for. Maybe I’ll meet, maybe I won’t, but at least I’m reaching. So as 2012 drew to a close, I wrote down a few goals for the next year:
- Become better friends with Jesus
- Become a better writer
- Become a better leader
- Be healthier
- Get out of debt
- Save for the future
Having set the goals, I then wrote down specific ways I could reach them.
- Read one leadership or spiritual book a month
- Finish one novel manuscript
- Finish one feature-length screenplay
- Enter a writing contest (short story, script, doesn’t matter) — shoot, and win it!!
- Pay off student loan
- Manage finances weekly
- Run/exercise daily
- Read the Bible and pray daily
- Grow savings to $2000 of surplus
- Buy an older father lunch once a month and ask questions
- Attend an inner healing course
- Write one blog post a week
- Use Kirk Bennett’s meditation journal
- Read Corey Russell’s book, Ancient Paths
- Learn one song on guitar per month
So far, I’ve begun work on seven of the items, and I’m loving it. It may be slow, but I can feel myself growing. Maybe some of the things on the list I won’t get to (cough write a blog post a week cough) but I’m setting up a target. If you don’t have a target at which to aim, you wander aimlessly.
If you’re looking for some ways meet your goals for 2013, here a few things I’ve found helpful.
Reaching Your Goals
Audio Books. Last fall I listened to a podcast interview with Michael Hyatt, former CEO of publisher Thomas Nelson. When asked how he managed to still read books with a busy schedule, he said he used audio books. Then as a side comment he added that he listened to the books while running.
Since running and reading a leadership book a month were both on my list, I gave it a try, and boy does it help! Not only am I learning great things, but running is way more enjoyable while listening to something. There is a great service called Audible.com, which lets you download one audio book a month for a monthly fee, and it works really well.
As an added bonus, the first book I got was John C. Maxwell’s 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. I am positive this is going to be a life-changing book for me. John is insightful and practical about things you can do to grow—and even explaining why you need to grow! If you read any non-fiction book this year, I highly recommend this one.
Creating a space. One of the laws John talks about is the Law of Reflection; if you don’t stop to reflect on life’s experiences, you won’t learn from them. To help, he suggests creating a space for your reflection time. I never realized how valuable it is to have a spot that is comfortable and inviting. I’m still working to make it a habit, but my favorite thing to do in the mornings now is sit in my recliner with a cup of tea and talk with the Lord.
Walking closer with the Lord. A few things are helping me in my walk with the Lord. First, I’m taking a class called Relational Wholeness, a class that looks “at other relational dynamics that help us understand how we relate to others and that give keys to emotional wholeness and godly relationships.” You may hesitate at this idea, maybe because you have to pay for it and maybe you don’t want people to think you have serious issues. (Don’t worry; we all have serious issues.) In the end, I decided to ignore those two excuses because my relationship with the Lord and the people around me are worth investing in.
Second, I took a suggestion from Candace Nashman and signed up for a Bible reading plan. Every morning I get an email with a passage of scripture to read. I’m not radically encountering the Lord every time I read, but it’s getting me in the Word more. And third, a pastor named Kirk Bennett has written a simple guide on how to meditate on scripture. I’m doing it during my times in the prayer room at the International House of Prayer, and it really works.
Above all, it’s important to remember that Jesus wants to be closer friends even more than I do. I don’t have to convince him. Remembering that it’s all about a friendship helps me not get down on myself when I miss one of my daily times with him.
Developing habits. A number of my goals for the year are really just good habits. To remind me when I need to do those things, and because I’m a techy kind of guy, I found an iPhone app called Habit List. It allows you to set reminders for individual days at certain times, and it’s designed really well. It’s even helped me take out the trash three weeks in a row! You could of course do this with a normal to-do or reminders app, but it’s nice to have a separate app so everything doesn’t get all jumbled together. Habit List works in the background and sends me reminders when I need it. (I have not once gotten to sleep by midnight. Still working on that goal….)
John Maxwell’s first law of personal growth is the Law of Intentionality. Growth won’t come looking for you. If you want to grow, you need to be intentional. That means taking time to look at where you are and where you want to be. That might mean spending more money than what you’re used to, or taking money from your coffee budget and putting it toward Audible.com. Regardless of what you need to shift, it will be worth it.
I’m not sure how well I’ll do throughout the year, but I’m excited to see how much I’ve grown by the end of 2013.
What goals have you set for the year? What are you doing to reach them?