Steps for a Simpler New Year

Step One

I love lists. My list of goals for 2012 is extensive. However, I gave it some thought and came up with my #1 Goal for the New Year, the one thing I want to accomplish if all my other goals are a wash. My #1 Goal is to more deliberately share my faith.

How about you? What’s your #1 Goal for the coming year?

Step Two

Based on an assignment I did a million years ago – okay, closer to thirty – I’ll choose a long term goal and work backwards. Like many people, I would like to lose weight. By December 31, 2012, I would like to be 25 pounds lighter. That’s a mere two pounds per month. I can do that.

In January, I will seek to make exercise a regular part of my schedule. In February, I will continue to exercise and significantly limit my consumption of junk food. In March, I will do both and add a third habit needed for consistent weightloss.

Breaking down a big goal into bite-sized pieces allows us to celebrates the little victories along the way.

Will this work for one or more of your goals?

Step Three

Say NO! I’m not really one to talk about this. I have a tendency to take on more than I should. However, learning just how much I can do well will help me decide when I should decline certain opportunities – even if I’d love to pursue them.

If we create a list of personal priorities and weigh new opportunities against this list, it will be easier to decide what to take on and what to walk away from.

Do you have any current opportunities you should decline?

Step Four

Now let’s combine a few of the previous steps. If I set a goal (say declutter the house) and a list of priorities (i.e. God, family, friends, clients, etc), I can compare the two by asking some simple questions. Will this goal advance Priority #1, Priority #2, etc? How much time can I devote to accomplishing the goal?

When I’ve answered these questions, I can break down each goal into it’s parts and schedule them into my agenda.

Do you have goals you have to scrap because they don’t line up with your priorities? Do new goals come to mind when you actually consider your priorities?

Step Five

This step can be extremely tedious, but extremely revealing. Now that we have our list of priorities recorded, it’s time to put it to the test. (Again, this idea came from one of my Bible college professors.)

Record your activity for a week and how much time you spend on each activity.

The following could be from a page in my journal.

8:00 – get up, have breakfast, shower, dress

9:00 – turn on computer, check email and social networks

11:00 (oops!) – start work…

The results may reveal that our priorities are completely opposite of what we’d listed. At the end of the week, we may realize we should create a more realistic list of priorities or perhaps – as is the case for me – devote more time to what is truly important.

All the Best for a Simpler, More Joy-filled Year

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