We’re a few days deep into a new year. If you’re like most people, there are goals you want to accomplish. The list may include saving money, projects around the house, learning a new language, or reading through the Bible.
These are good and noble goals. But honestly, most of us will never reach our goals because we fail to prioritize, plan, and perform. We get on our horse of ideas and ride out in every direction. By June, we’re either happy we didn’t intentionally set goals for the year or disappointed we didn’t achieve them. But hey, we set ourselves up for it.
Don’t do it again. Go to battle.
Goals boldly taunt and oppose us. They believe us to be no match. For years, they’ve won–but not anymore. We’re taking them to war.
Okay, so it’s not quite like that. But if you want to get serious, maybe that’s exactly what you should think. It’s what I do. I call it my Battle Plan. I’m going to attack my goals and win these battles. Here’s what I suggest.
Prioritize Your Battle
First, prioritize your goals so you know which to attack, when, and with how much force. Here’s how you do it:
- Gather your goals. Write them on a sheet of paper so you can see them. It’s not important to be neat.
- Specify your goals. State them as specific targets. For instance, instead of saying “learn Greek,” you might say “learn Greek alphabet” or “learn Greek verb endings.” Be very specific.
- Word your goals. Since words communicate a message, use them wisely. Instead of “study Greek alphabet,” say “learn Greek alphabet. This way, you know when you’ve reached your target. (In this example, learn has a definite ending and therefore a goal, whereas study is an ongoing action.)
- Categorize your goals. Some goals will require many steps. Other goals are steps or commitments that have no clear end. For example, “learn Greek alphabet” will span a number of weeks until it ends, whereas “weekly date night” is a repetitive goal with no end. Additionally, some are financial or family goals, while others are personal or work-related. The way you attack these goals is different, so grouping them by attack method will help.
- Order your goals. This is a critical step. You may have more goals than are achievable, or some may not be as important as others. Order your goals in each list so the most important goals are up top.
Finally, share your list with a close friend who will be honest with you. If you have a spouse, he or she may suggest or remove goals on your list. A different perspective will help, and the extra eye will keep you accountable throughout the year by asking, “Hey, how’s that Greek alphabet coming along?”
Plan Your Battle
Next, make your Battle Plan. You will need a strategy to boss you around. (Please don’t get hung up on the word “boss.” You’re making the plan, so you’re still the boss here.) The strategy will work like a general charging you for battle. If you’re not fond of the war metaphor, think of it as a game plan in the huddle. If you’re not fond of football, well, you’re not American.
- Position your goals. Start with the big picture. Goals with definite endings should be positioned appropriately in the calendar. Goals for June belong in June, and so forth. Position goals with indefinite endings by starting times. The remaining goals are probably flexible, so position them where there is little happening on the calendar.
- Expand your goals. Now that you know when goals begin and end, expand the goals into tasks. Some of your goals may require weekly tasks. For instance, if “learn Greek alphabet” requires four weeks of study, I’ll designate each week leading up to the goal end date for studying the Greek alphabet. Others take days or months, so you may need to reposition some goals before they are all expanded into tasks.
- Consolidate your goals. By now, you should have goals spanning across days and possibly weeks. You know what needs to be done each week. Plus, you have goals with ongoing tasks ready. Consolidate these tasks into their weeks so you know what to attack each week. Then, consolidate into days of the week so you know what to attack each day. (Be mindful that some will be attacked daily.)
- Dedicate your goals. You’ve come along way in this Battle Plan and this is the most crucial step—dedicating your goals to time, not the other way around. Time doesn’t change. Be mindful of where you are at each time so that your task can be completed effectively. For instance, if you need a quiet house, choose time before the household awakes. You can also combine tasks. Read a chapter in a book or take an online class during your lunch break. Most importantly, don’t forget time for family and refreshing. I treat them like tasks, so they have a dedicated time as well.
- Revise your goals. Keep in mind that you will need to make changes throughout the year for unexpected things. Or, you may find a plan isn’t working and need to move it. No biggie. The aim is to have each moment of the day dedicated to something so that it is not lost, and of course, so goals are accomplished.
Perform Your Battle
Be resolute, but be flexible. Remember that you are the boss of the Battle Plan even though it is bossing you around. In essence, you are making it work for you. But an unexecuted Battle Plan is a waisted plan. At the end of the day, the Battle Plan doesn’t get fired if you don’t use it.
- Retain your goals. Keep your goals close and visible. Put them in a digital calendar so that reminders are sent to your computer or phone. Or, put them on a printed calendar or a daily activity sheet so that you can see what you should be doing throughout the day.
- Keep your goals. Persist in your goals. Don’t fudge for spontaneous lunches or unplanned Internet searches unless you have spare time. Warning: this is how you lose track. Maintain your schedule each day.
- Review your goals. You should revise your goals regularly. Review them for the purpose joy. Look back often and see what you’ve accomplished—whether tasks or goals. It will motivate you to keep going.
- Share your goals. Talking about your goals with others makes you mindful of them and builds motivation—especially when you can tell others what you’ve accomplished. Heck, you might even inspire others to do the same.
- Kill your goals. If you are still with me in the war, kill your goals with dignity and honor. Don’t quit. Don’t get sluggish. Passionately and diligently make war with your goals. Read material about or from Jonathan Edwards. It will do the trick.
Hopefully, this will get you off to a strong start this year. Take these ideas and conform them for your needs. The discipline that results from a successful Battle Plan will be rewarding and productive. What goals will you attack in your Battle Plan this year?