Tools for Setting and Reaching Goals

Goal Setting: Resolutions, Traction and Progress Planner

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I’m doing a something a little different this year for my resolutions/goals. Last year, my husband, girls and I, wrote out our resolutions on big sheets of paper using a vision mapping method I’d seen online (Blog post here). I reviewed the 2017 goals over the weekend and actually did a pretty good job of accomplishing the majority of them.

But this year, I want to go even bigger.

Here are the tools I’m using for setting and reaching my short-term and long-term goals:

  1. Progress Planner: I did some research on planners and finally chose this one based on the price ($19.99 vs. some of the planners that were $50+), reviews and format. It isn’t based on a calendar-year but instead based on two, 90-day periods. Also, the main focus isn’t day-to-day calendar items, but what I need to do daily to accomlish one major goal in 90 days. Find it here on Amazon. I started using the Progress Planner on January 1. So far: liking it. I like the layout, instructions, and daily accountability. Image result for progress planner
  2. Traction: Several months ago I read Traction by Gino Wickman. One of my clients is implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System outlined in the book. I’ve enjoyed watching their progress and seeing the success of the operating system. The website for EOS has free tools you can download. For my long-term and short-term goals, I used the EOS Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO). While this tool is mainly for business, I used it to focus on my personal Core Values, 10-Year Target, and 3-Year Picture. Traction/EOS works in 90-day time-frames, so fits perfectly with my Progress Planner. To determine my personal 10-Year Vision, I asked myself the following questions:
    • If I inherited $100 million today, what would I do with the rest of my life? What would I spend my time doing? How would I spend my days if money wasn’t an option?
    • If I found out I had one month left to live, how would I spend the next 30 days? What would be the most important things I’d want to accomplish?
    • What is my “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” (BHAG)? Taken from the book Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, this is again more of a business concept, but can be used for personal life as well. The idea is to come up with a big, bold long-term goal that is action-oriented and excites me.
  1. CliftonStrengths Assessment or Gallup StrengthsFinder: I’ve taken my assessment before, but I pulled out the binder of my strengths and reviewed what I should be doing to optimize my strengths. If you haven’t taken your assessment, I recommend it. More info here. Also, if it is in your budget to hire a Strength Coach, I also recommend. I used a coach previously and it was very beneficial in helping me understand my strengths and how to use them to the best of my ability.

Armed with these tools, I headed to the coffee shop on New Year’s Eve afternoon for a three-hour planning session. Taking this time was important to get away from distractions and dream, pray, conceptualize, reflect, and let my imagination take charge.

One important step in the “Progress Planner” system is to set a 90-day goal and to tell others about it for accountability. My goal is focused on my blog: To write 28 meaningful blog posts in 90 days, mainly focused on what I’m learning in the Bible or how I’m learning to spend more time with Jesus. 

Over the next 90 days, I’ll keep you updated on my progress and how the “Progress Planner” journal is working. I’ll also keep you updated on how I’m doing on my goal of 28 meaningful posts by March 31. Feel free to keep me accountable and also share any goal-keeping tools you have found useful.

Thanks for reading and for your feedback!

Three Sources for Financial Advice

I’ve always been interested in financial management.  Even as a kid I used the envelope system and tried to get my siblings to listen to my lectures on money.  Financial management is systematic and strategic . . . and this woman loves systems and strategies!

As a Christian, here are three sources I lean on for developing financial strategies for my life.

#1. The Bible

By far, the Bible is the most important resource for advice on money.  Did you know there are over 2,000 verses about money in the Bible?   No, you won’t find specific advice on investing strategies, but the Bible gets to the most important thing – where the heart is in terms of finances.  Is my security in God or in my bank account?  Do I demonstrate love for others by how I share my resources?  Who does my money belong to?  Am I a wise steward of resources?

Jesus himself talked frequently about money  . . . so if it is important to Jesus it should be important to me.  I should be seeking biblical wisdom on how I deal with finances.  Fortunately, whether I am reading the Old Testament, the Gospels or anywhere else in the New Testament, I regularly come across advice on how to think about and handle money.

For example, if you are reading along with me through the Bible (this year I am using the Skövde Pingst YouVersion Plan in NIV – Click Here to Start!), yesterday’s reading included Psalm 49:16-20, which talked about not being jealous or greedy; wealth will fade.  I should focus more on gaining wisdom than gaining money.

  • 16-17: Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them.
  • 18 – 19: Though while they live they count themselves blessed— and people praise you when you prosper— they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life.
  • 20: People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.

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#2. Dave Ramsey

I love Dave Ramsey.  I’ve never done his Financial Peace University classes, but have heard rave reviews.  He has simple, biblically-based concepts that have worked for me.  The resources I’ve used are:

  • Radio program:  I listen on-line; usually every day.  I love Dave’s advice and the inspiring stories of people who have paid off all their debt.
  • Baby Steps:  As outlined on the website and in his books.  Simple.  Clean.  Makes sense.  And it works.  I’m on Baby-Step 5 . . . and I want to sell my house and buy a new house with the equity to fast-forward to complete Step 6.  (But I have a lot of work to get my house ready to sell!)
  • Total Money Makeover book:  quick read, great resource.  And it works if you follow it!

 

#3. Joshua Becker

Josh spoke at my church several years ago about his journey and philosophy on possessions.  It was such a different concept than the consumerism that I was caught up in . . . and it made total sense.  I follow Josh’s blog www.BecomingMinimalist.com which has great insight on topics on minimalism, getting out of debt, becoming un-busy, decluttering, etc.

His blog as great reminders on getting rid of the things that don’t matter and focusing on what matters most.

I haven’t read any of Josh’s books yet . . . but have them on my to-read list.  If you have read any, please share thoughts.  Josh’s latest book is below:

I kept my 2016 Resolutions . . .

I kept my 2016 resolutions . . . but the results weren’t quite what I expected.

I had very high hopes for 2016.  For the first time ever, I was being extremely intentional with my life and I was making massive changes.  My main resolutions at the beginning of 2016 were to:

  • Make a career change
  • Read through the Bible in the year
  • Minimize my personal belongings
  • Cut out things that waste time and focus on what matters most

And for the first time ever, I really stuck to my resolutions.

I quit my company that I had had for years – I let all my clients go by the end of May.  I walked away from a large source of revenue in order to cut down on stress and give myself a less crazy schedule.

I read through the Bible and used the SOAP method to journal (most days) outlined in the Divine Mentor.  I just finished Revelation yesterday morning!

I did a massive purge following Marie Kondo’s supposedly Life-Changing Magic.

By the end of the year I was finally off Facebook after many attempts.

And I really thought 2016 was going to be amazing.  That with these massive changes I thought I would start 2017 a new person with a completely new life.

It’s been a little like our trip to the Dominican Republic – lots of planning but the outcome wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for.

I’m still trying to figure out my job – and how to use my strengths in my job.  I’m not used to not being the boss.  I’m used to calling the shots and making my own schedule.  The adjustment it much harder than I imagined.  And where I thought I was going to be changing the world on a daily basis, mostly I’m still trying to figure out how to maneuver the organization’s database.

And for all the purging and the massive garage sale we held in June, my house is still a mess.  This was my kitchen when I went downstairs to reheat my day-old coffee.  I am sure Marie Kondo would be appalled.  This wasn’t her vision when she said everything should have its place . . . and the magic didn’t seem to work on me.

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I still struggle as a parent and a wife.  It is a daily struggle.  I fail and get back up.  Fail and get back up.

So what did I learn in 2016 . . . and what I am still learning?

  • The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.  And regardless of the color of the grass – whether it is green or brown – I’m what ultimately needs to change.  A change in circumstance can be a good thing.  But an internal change in me is what is going to make the difference in how I see and experience the grass, regardless of the color.
  • Having less stuff is freeing in ways, but it is also time-consuming and a never-ending process.  If you think my kitchen is bad you should see the pile of crap in my bedroom.  The lack of stuff or the accumulation of stuff won’t make or break me.  It is more about how I view my material possessions.  Am I living for stuff (whether it is the accumulation or the minimization)?  Or am I living for what really matters – God, People, Loving Others, etc?
  • Does God care about what I do for a living?  Yes, I think he does.  He cares about if I am doing my work (regardless of what it is) for his glory and that I am putting him first.  He cares if I am seeking his will and following it.  He cares about my priorities and what is in my heart.

Colossians 3:23 (NIV): Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV): Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 16:9 (NIV): In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

So do I regret making very intentional changes in 2016 and sticking to my resolutions?  Absolutely not.  Reading through the Bible in 2016 was the most serious spiritual discipline I’ve ever accomplished, and I hope it is just the beginning of a life-long dedication to daily Bible reading and application.

And for all the other changes – only time will tell how they shape my future and future generations.  I’d rather be intentional than not, but I also need to keep in mind that results might not be apparent for years to come.  And some actions won’t have the results I hoped for at all.

And as I kicked of 2017 with my morning devotions I read:

Philippians 1:6 (NIV):  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

A very comforting thought as I begin to prepare to write my 2017 Resolutions.  And even more so a reminder, that whatever I plan to do, I need to make sure the Lord is the one establishing my steps.

Traveling to the Dominican Republic

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San Juan de la Maguana

I love traveling, but probably even more, I love planning trips.  I love putting together the budget, researching and planning the itinerary.  Maps.  Travel time.  An hour spent on TripAdvisor or Sygic is an hour spent in my happy space.  I could daydream about traveling for hours.

Planning for our November/December 2016 trip to the Dominican Republic was pretty similar.  My brother and his wife and children live in the DR, so part of the trip was visiting family and seeing their work.  The rest of the trip was about relaxing, hanging out at the beach, eating good food and creating memories.

I also had big ideas about what we were going to experience and learn.

  • My spiritual life was going to blossom (and I was going to get great photos for my blog).
  • My children were going to experience new cultures and foods.  They were going to have their eyes opened to poverty and have a life-changing experience.  Probably they would come back to the U.S. and never complain about anything again after seeing how people live in real poverty (OK, I am half-joking . . . but part of me really hoped for this).
  • My husband was going to discover a love for world-traveling that would catapult our future travel experiences into a new realm.

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Reality was a little different.

Day one we flew into Santo Domingo, the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic.  It was pouring rain and we were unsure if my brother was going to be able to pick us up or his migraine would keep him at home, which would mean we’d need to find our way from the airport to a taxi to a bus station to buy bus tickets (we don’t speak Spanish) and take the 3 hour drive to San Juan de la Maguana.  All by ourselves.

Fortunately my brother’s migraine cleared up enough so that he could pick us up and drive us to his home.

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The drive through Santo Domingo in the rain

San Juan de la Maguana was beautiful.  And not to sound biased, but I am pretty sure I have the most adorable nieces and nephews in the world.  San Juan de la Maguana is surrounded by mountains and hills.  Beautiful people.  Delicious food.  We visited villages where my brother and sister-in-law are working and met their co-workers.  Their ministry is pretty amazing – if your church is looking for a missions partner or if you are looking for a ministry to support, check them out:   Miguelandkristina.blogspot.com

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San Juan de la Manguana

My children did get exposed to different cultures and a different lifestyle.  No traffic rules (at least not enforced).  Being a minority.  Lack of hot water.  No air conditioning.  Not speaking the language.

They also got sick.  So did my husband.

By the end of day four of the trip I had dumped about 1,000 buckets of vomit.  I’m exaggerating.  But it felt like I did.  My 9-year-old thought she was going to die.  My husband wasn’t very happy with me and my status as an expert trip planner was quickly deteriating.

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Due to vomiting children our bus trip back to Santo Domingo was delayed by several hours, but armed with Ritz crackers and plastic bags, we climbed onto a lovely Caribe Tours bus and made the trip to the capital where we transferred to a private van to take us to Dreams La Romana Resort.

Here is the good, bad and ugly:

  • The vomiting continued.  We were very careful about not drinking water so I’m not sure if we had a bug or ate something bad.  But by the end of the trip we’d gone through lots of bed sheets and Pepto-Bismol.
  • The beach at Dreams La Romana was lovely.  They had free snorkeling gear, kayaks, peddle boats, etc.  I spent hours floating in the clear, calm water viewing fish, stingrays and starfish.
  • Even though we were staying at an all-inclusive resort they had sales people who tried (relentlessly) to get us to sit through a sales pitch.  We didn’t do it so I don’t even know what they were selling, but they got pretty upset that we didn’t participate.
  • The food was pretty good and there was a good variety.  We could have probably enjoyed more if we weren’t sick.
  • We did not do the upgraded “preferred” package and I thought the beach and pool-area were completely lovely without the upgrade.

After three days at Dreams we headed back to Santo Domingo and stayed at the Real Intercontinental which had just opened.  It is a beautiful hotel.  Fantastic service.  The pool is amazing and the food service was great.  Below is the view from our room.  Pretty amazing.

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Panoramic View of Santo Domingo from the Real Intercontinental

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The last day we went to the Colonial Zone (Zona Colonial) which is the oldest constantly inhabited city in “The Americas,” dating back to when Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492.  We only had a few hours in the Colonial Zone, though for a thorough exploration I’d suggest at least a day (or two) to tour everything.

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The Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor

The Cathedral of Santa María la Menor; the oldest cathedral in the Americas, begun in 1512 and completed in 1540

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On this trip we created lots of memories – some good, some not so good.   Pepto-Bismol became my best friend.  My girls came home from the DR and still complain about “first world problems” but seeds were planted and hopefully their eyes were opened to a bigger view of the world.  My husband put his passport away.  I’m not sure if he’ll ever get it out again.

I think all of us have a better appreciation for what we have.  And we better understand what we don’t have.  And what we don’t need.

And that is something that all the trip planning in the world won’t prepare us for or provide.

So until next time (and hopefully there is a next time), “Adios” Dominican Republic.  Thank you for the memories!

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The Divine Mentor

I belong to “small group” at church of wonderful, funny, broken people who are all in different places on our Journey of faith.

At our 2015 Christmas party we busy playing games, eating cookies and exchanging white elephant guests when it was announced that everyone needed to vote on the next Bible study we’d be doing as a group.

With my white elephant gift in tow – a bag of quinoa and a can of mandarin oranges – I checked out the options:

  1. “Effective Parenting in a Defective World” by Chip Ingram
  2. “Renovation of the Heart” by Dallas Willard
  3. To read through the Bible in 2016

I voted for the study on parenting. I struggle as a parent.  And my husband and I have very different parenting styles.

Also, I’ve already read Renovation of the Heart previously and reading through the Bible seemed like a very daunting task.  Finding even 10 minutes a day to read the Bible has often been a losing battle for me.

The group voted and we tallied up the ballots – Reading through the Bible in a year won.

Pinterest to the Rescue

I love Pinterest.  I have a huge collection of Pins – recipes to make, places to travel, great cleaning tips, DIY projects and gardening hacks.  98% are pages I like and pin, but never attempt.  I’d much rather read about  “green” cleaning techniques and how to make mason jar crafts than actually attempt any of them.

January was quickly approaching and my group had yet to come up with a reading plan.  I decided to see if Pinterest had any ideas.

Who knew how many great Bible study ideas are on Pinterest?  From color-coding your Bible to creating a war room out of a closet, Pinterest had everything!  Before getting too distracted by the ideas on creating Bible Study baskets out of shower caddies, I discovered a Pin recommending “The Divine Mentor” by Wayne Cordeiro.

Game changer.

The basic premise of the book is that nothing has the power to transform your life like sitting at the feet of the Savior.

The book includes a reading program – I have the app – and use the Life Journal Reading Plan.  I also use the SOAP method outlined by Cordeiro:

  • Scripture
  • Observation
  • Application
  • Prayer

Every morning I meet with Jesus.  I bring my coffee, Bible, journal, pen and “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian.  My phone buzzes and my You Version app tells me what I need for the day.

Every day has been a blessing. What a privilege that I have the opportunity to spend time with a Moses, David, Paul and Peter.  I have gotten to know women who have experienced so many of the same highs and lows that I experience thousands of years later.  But mostly, I have been able to read a love letter from a man who died for me.

1 Corinthians 2:13 New International Version (NIV):  This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

If you are wanted to grow in your spiritual life or are struggling to find a reading plan or Bible study, I highly recommend this plan.

Will you join me in sitting with Jesus and seeing where he leads us?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 New International Version (NIV):  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Reading through the Bible Plan
The Divine Mentor

Reading PlanApp or Written Plan (there is a plan in the book as well)

Tools

  • Bible
  • Journal
  • Pen

Deuteronomy 8:1-3 New International Version (NIV):  Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.