It is about this time of the year that I start going through a mental wrap up.  The end of the year is close, Christmas is pretty much sorted, and now my mind goes to planning next year. And we’ll start to see a whole pile of whoo-ha about setting goals on our socials. How do you feel about that? Does this make you groan, knowing everyone is going to be talking about setting goals, but they just don’t work for you – you know it – and yet it seems like they should work for you but truth be told, you’ve been setting the same goals for years and not really getting anywhere.  

Something has to change! Listen in as I talk about the importance of goals (the right goals), and how to make them work for you – even when you are a busy, tired and overwhelmed Mum.

How to Set Goals as a Busy, Tired, Overwhelmed Mum

Over the years I’ve come to accept that the traditional way of setting goals doesn’t work for me – and maybe it doesn’t work for you either. We’ve been told to set goals the same way for years, and we are told how to set these goals by highly motivated people – but their enthusiasm doesn’t always carry us through to success and their methods often don’t work for a busy mum!  It is an unhelpful cycle we get caught up in and we have to break it.  

We have to look at goals differently –

It is always helpful to start a process by knowing your why.  Why do we set goals? Other than the society’s expectations of the new year – I think we set goals because we hope they will give us

  • Clarity on what is important 
  • Motivation and accountability
  • Commitment to personal growth

 

But do they?  Do the goals we set give us those things?  

For me, goals – SMART goals, and especially the big-scary goals become nothing more than words on a list in my journal.  I know all the tips and tricks of making the goals relevant and realistic, and making sure you review and reset – all those things – and yet, as a mum, in those seasons when I had a busy mum life – the goals I set in January for the year just never happened.  

Just setting great goals, isn’t going to help you do things differently.  If you are exhausted and overwhelmed – a goal won’t change anything. 

So I guess the first action step I’d like you to consider before you set goals this coming year is to be honest about how helpful setting goals has been for you in the past.  If they have truly worked… then great.  No need to fix what isn’t broke!  But if you go through the motions – or you wish you were able to go through the motions of setting goals – then keep listening because I think we need to reconsider how mums should set goals.

We Need to Change How We Set Goals

Before we get into how to set goals, I think the best change I’ve made is to not set a yearly goal, and instead set either 100 day goal (which is really 3 months), or really simplify it and set a 30 day goal.  

When you set these shorter-term goals the key is to predetermine a day to review and set new goals for the next block of time.  I guess that is one benefit of the New Year’s goals is that we have this week which we subconsciously, or consciously give to setting goals.  When we start setting goals for a shorter period of time, we need to be intentional about thinking about the next block of time.

 

These shorter-term goals work for me because I feel that is a period of time where I can have some sense of control and any idea I have I know straight away if it is realistic or relevant to what else is going on in my life.  

The second change I made was to be realistic about the areas of my life that goals helped.  In the business world too often goals are set about success as a person and success as a business all in the one goal list, all in the one strategy session, and all in the one vision board for the year. Their goals as a business person are tightly rolled up with their goals as a person – and that is reflected then on how they define success.  I don’t think that is healthy.  There has to be a difference between who I am, and what I do – and our goals should reflect that.

As a mum, I needed to make homeschooling plans, renovation plans, and family vacation plans.  But my goals where to be a better me.  Being a better me didn’t depend on my parenting, my homeschooling, my house, or a family holiday.  Being a better me was more about my relationship with God and my family, my character, and my overall well-being.  (and on that, I think we need to just stop making health goals about our physical body, and instead look at our spiritual, emotional, and social well-being a little bit more – lot more!!)

 

Out with SMART and in with KIND Goals

We all know the SMART acronym when it comes to setting goals.  But I have a different Acronym for you to keep in mind.  Before we go there – just to summarise where I’m at so far with setting goals for the new year – 

  1. They will be 100-day goals (or if I hit a crazy spot in our year, 30 days)
  2. I will have regular days to review and reset
  3. My goals will be about me, not my roles or responsibilities

Any goal that we set for ourselves has to be KIND.  Yes, we want to stretch and grow, but we also have to be kind to ourselves.  Which is why that is my acronym for setting goals.  K.I.N.D.

Know yourself
Invest in your wellbeing
Nurture connections
Develop character

 

If you consider these four things every 100 days or every 30 days – you will be growing as a person towards health and strength.  When you are a healthy and strong woman you will be a healthy and strong mum.

 

Know yourself

No one knows us like we know ourselves (at least this should be true). But we often don’t give ourselves permission to know who we are.  As a Christian this starts with knowing ourselves as God knows us – our identity in Christ.  Who is it that God says you are?  

Secondly – who is it that God has made you?  You have unique strengths, weaknesses, passions, gifts, and needs. 

We usually set goals based on what we tell ourselves we should be like, which is usually based on what voices we hear of other people telling us we should be like.  

Take time to get to know yourself, and more importantly, take time to understand who God knows you as.  God knows you as His child – not all the things you do.

If we don’t have this aspect sorted in our head and heart – then any goal we set will be performance-based, a hamster wheel, and only add to our to-do list and make us exhausted.  To be kind to yourself – know yourself as God knows you and let that be the premise for anything else you do in the coming year.

 

Invest in your well-being 

Each and every one of us has 6 capacities that make us human:  Spiritual, moral, emotional, social, intellectual, and physical.  How can you be healthy and strong in each of those areas?  Of course, there is always room for growth and that is what often motivates us to set goals. 

We need to read the Bible more, stop being angry, read more books, exercise and drink water, and make a new friend… all these are good goals – but are they based on ‘shoulds’ or will they help you do life well?  That is the purpose of setting KIND goals – that you can grow so you can do life well – keep that in mind.

The key word here is invest – invest in your well-being.  Make time, set aside resources, and make a plan on how you are going to care for your well-being.  Your whole well-being (not just your physical body). 

 

Nurture connections

We are made for relationships.  We are made in the image of God, and God is a relational God.  We can’t do life on our own – we are not islands though sometimes our choices push people away and we feel isolated.  One way to be KIND to ourselves, and to make sure we are healthy women, is to recognise the need to actively nurture relationships.  

  • Our relationship with God
  • Our spouse
  • Our children
  • Our parents and siblings
  • Our friends and neighbours

 

Yes socialising can be exhausting and sometimes we feel like who has time for that – but I want to put it out there that maybe there is a difference between nurturing relationships and socialising.  Who is it that God has put in your life that you can nurture a give-and-take type of relationship?  Someone, or more than one person maybe – you can open up to, be vulnerable with, and share life with.  You will be a better person for the people you let into your life.  

We live in a world where people put up walls or fences and say they don’t want to be disturbed.  But is that their real heart cry or are they just protecting themselves?  Be KIND to yourself because you need people, but also be KIND to others around you, because they need people too and God may well use you in their life.

 

Develop Character

Habits are the things of goals – we all know that. A habit is what makes a goal become a reality most times.  Habits are hard things to build so how do habits fit into the KIND mindset?

The best habits we can grow in are habits of character – of responding to people and circumstances in ways consistent with our value system.  

If we were to think about why we would traditionally set a particular goal, and even why we weren’t able to achieve that goal – it all boils down to our values and character and the choices that we made. So instead of struggling to reach a goal, lets look at the character issues that let us down.

Do you need to grow in orderliness, patience, confidence, discernment, self-control?  

Choose a character trait, and define it – know what it means, why it is important, and what it looks like in action.  And then over the next 30-100 days be conscious about the opportunities you have to choose to take that values-based action, be aware of when you do and when you don’t, and intentionally put things right when you make the wrong choice.  If you do this over and over and over – just focusing on that one character trait – you will grow – you will develop the habit of responding with character.

 

Heart-focused Action Step

There’s a lot to think about in all that so let me just summarise and in doing so give you a clear action plan.

  1. Think about how goal setting works for you.  What do you believe about goal setting – do you need to change how you do it?
  2. Decide if you are going to set goals for 30 days, 100 days, or the full year.
  3. Set KIND thoughts for yourself
    • Know yourself – know what God sees in you, and be honest if you see yourself as God sees you.  If not, work on that!
    • Invest in your well-being – your whole-self well-being.  Decide on one area of your life that needs your attention so you can be in better health.
    • Nurture connections – give time to relationships. Decide who you need to connect with and make a plan.
    • Develop character – be honest about one character issue you want to address.

 

And remember we do this to be a better me – not a better mum, not a better homeschooler, or homemaker – but a better me.  And that isn’t about the projects that I complete – but it is about the inner work – the heart work that I do.

One last thing – whenever you review and reset, whenever you revisit your goals – reflect on what you’ve written and double check by asking yourself this question – am I planning this because I don’t feel like I’m enough, or because God has loved me, forgiven me, restored me so that I can live in freedom to glorify Him?

Think about that – that statement alone should change how we set goals.  Do we set goals coming from a place of freedom beause God loves me, forgives me, has restored me or am I stuck still trying to be enough for God.

parenting takes heart-work

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