by Pamela J. Morton
A friend of mine recently reminded me of my zeal for New Year's resolutions. I think the word "reminded" might be a bit generous...maybe "mocked," "scoffed," "laughed hysterically followed by eye rolling" would be better descriptors. It seems that a few years ago I had joined a group of my friends around a lunch table in order to spend some time discussing our goals for the coming year. It sounded like a great idea.
We talked and ate then finally settled in for the purpose of the get together. I retrieved my tote and pulled out my handy-dandy portfolio complete with my ledger pad and color-coordinated pen. I waited for everyone else to follow. No one moved. "Oh, maybe they want to wait until it's their turn," I thought.
One by one, each friend began listing their goals. Some were straightforward things like, "I want to read my Bible more”, and others a bit more complex like "I want to show more patience with my children." Then (of course) the ever elusive, yet always present goal of "losing weight" with varying dates of achievement.
"This is good," I smiled. "Now we'll get into the nuts and bolts of each one." With my ledger pad in hand, I waited for the cue to begin. My friend looked at me and said, "That's a mighty big notepad you've got there, Pam. What's it for?"
I looked incredulous. "What's it for? What's it for! My goals of course. My hopes. My dreams. My aspirations. Everything that this year could possible contain is listed in beautiful headings, subheadings, points and sub-points. Where should I begin?"
Each person at the table now had what I could only describe as a severe smirk on their faces. "What did I say?" I pondered. "Surely, they have something similar." I was wrong. Very wrong. They said something to the effect, "I would like to keep a cleaner house."
I had written:
V. Fully, Organized and Beautifully Functional Home that Glistens and Glossens [sic] Every Moment of the Day
A. Living Room
1. Fluffy, Soft, Perfect Carpet
a. vacuum every other day
b. cleaned professionally twice a year
2. Sparkling Furniture
a. dust every other day
b. polish once a week
3. Tasteful Decos
a. keep dusted every other day
b. rotate items seasonally
c. dispose of any unnecessary clutter
I could list more, but you get the idea. I had pages of these little beauties. As I read them, the smirks turned to mouths dropped open, to full bellied laughter, to head shaking back, to laughing so hard someone had to excuse herself to go to the bathroom.
Was I really that much over the top? I've come to discover that "yes," I am. So the million-dollar question is: "So how did the rest of the year go with such lofty ideals?" Some went really well and others...well, let's just say that I believe the "Lose Weight" category may be on the recurring list for years to come. But I was never without some sort of goal for improvement!
This year, I'm stepping back a bit and praying for general areas of my life and asking God to lead me day by day. Lists aren't bad as long as I don't become a slave to them allowing them to rob me of the joy and purpose that God has for my life in that particular moment. Still, I can't help but looking longingly at my big yellow notepad and sigh...
7 Tips for Setting Goals
1. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Set small goals that are manageable.
2. Talk with a friend or two and see if they agree with you or provide additional insight.
3. Stagger the start date for some of your goals. Begin some in January while others could begin in summer or autumn.
4. Prioritize what is truly important.
5. Plan goals of fun as well. This is your life. Make the most of it.
6. Pray and ask the Lord to help you understand what His leading is.
7. After you write your goals, spend a week praying over them and then move forward.
Pam Morton, her husband, John, and two teenaged daughters packed up their fulfilling, understood Midwestern life and moved to Cairo, Egypt in 2009. Her dream of serving overseas became a shocking reality of daily cultural encounters that often left her wondering if she’d actually landed on Mars instead! From Cairo to Khartoum to Upper Egypt to deserts unknown, Pam continues to learn, live and thrive in a sandy, sweaty, hospitable land.
An author, global worker, teacher trainer and self-proclaimed “professional luncher,” Pam wants to share laughter, life and hope with her dear Arab neighbors while providing insight into Middle Eastern customs and everyday life with her friends in the West. www.pamelajmorton.com