Friday, November 30, 2012

Goal Setting Part 7: The "What" of Goal Setting

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Last time, I suggested working backwards from the desired goal as a planning tool. I mentioned that when you work backwards from the finish line in your planning, you are likely to see new information about steps you need to take or differences in the amount of time that you originally thought you needed to complete your goal. In keeping with that thought, while we’re planning the steps for HOW to achieve this goal, we have consider WHAT we need in order to successfully complete it.  The WHAT doesn’t refer only to things.  It can also relate to people or skill sets and what’s necessary to secure those resources. 

For example, let’s say that you have a goal to achieve a formal certification in project management.  You may determine that you need additional information on risk management in order to pass the certification exam.  You might determine that only a class in risk management will provide sufficient knowledge.  In that case, the resource you need is a greater knowledge of risk management.  Now you need to decide how best to receive that additional knowledge.  Will it be a night class over 6 weeks?  Will you do an online course at your own pace?  Do you prefer a traditional classroom with real time interaction between students and professor?  How much will you be able to spend on acquiring this knowledge? Will you need to acquire financial aid if you take a college class?  If you take a traditional class that’s conducted at night, will you need childcare on those evenings?  Who will provide that? How much will that childcare cost?  Are there other options for gaining this desired knowledge?

At first glance, this can seem overwhelming. It may seem that if you pull one string (question) it will unravel the whole ball of yarn.  In essence, you do want it to unravel.  You need to examine this process piece by piece in order to plan accordingly. Too often, people fall victim to their own lack of thorough planning when it comes to their goals.  If you don’t think through WHAT you need before you begin, you most likely will reach a point during your journey where you have to stop and do it at a later time.  For example, it may be that you need another person who’s a resource to help you out.  If you neglect to secure him during the planning, now you may have to wait until he can work you into his schedule to help you with this piece of your journey.  If that happens, you can end up postponing action towards your goal.

If you do have to stop your journey due to poor initial planning, it’s even tougher for you to get going again once the resource has finally been secured.  People tend to lose momentum and become frustrated when they have to do planning like that in the heat of battle.  You need your strategy and your ammunition before you enter the battle field. You need to bring all the artillery you need in order to win with you when you show up for the battle.  The best way to do that is to think through all the things you need for survival before you even begin the journey.

-Stephanie Baker

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Decently and In Order

Let everything be done decently and in order. I Corinthians 14:40 KJV

Why is it important to do things in an orderly way? Paul wanted the Corinthian's church services to be ones of order and decency...something apparently the Corinthians were straying away from. His exhortation applies well to everyday life too. We don't have to be rigid or perfect, but decent, and orderly, helps us be less stressful, allows us to be more reliable, and lets us serve others more easily.

How has being organized help you live a more peaceful life?

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting Organized is Aided by Workable Systems

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I Chronicles 28:11 After David finished speaking, he gave Solomon the plans for building the main rooms of the temple, including the porch, the storerooms, the rooms upstairs and downstairs, as well as the most holy place.

When Audrey gets home, she immediately puts the mail on a corner of her desk, removes receipts from her wallet, puts loose change in a collection jar, checks to see if she still has a good supply of tissues, gum, hand sanitizer and other personal items, and hangs her purse on a hook. This system usually takes her less than five minutes, but she has found it extremely helpful during the morning rush to get out the door. And, she is always thankful during the day to have everything she needs well-supplied and orderly.

In the verse above, we see that David laid out specific plans for specific rooms of the temple. He seems to be very organized and intentional about how the rooms would be laid out and used. Notice the verse even points out rooms that may be considered less important (porch, storerooms.)

It's the same way in your home. Each room has a purpose and there are systems that can be created and utilized within that room. Pick a room and think about what its main purpose is. Then, think about the traffic pattern in the room. Brainstorm what you might need and can implement for making that room (or common area) work more efficiently.

God demonstrates order throughout the Bible. In some places, He was very specific. In others it feels like a more general plan to move people through history. All in all though, we see a God who does things with a purpose and with intentionality. Creation exhibits systems and cycles--sometimes elaborate ones--that show they were not just haphazardly thrown together. With His help, you can design systems that reflect Him in your home.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Goal Setting Part 6: The "How" and "When" of Goal Setting

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Last time I focused on the importance of visualizing the impact that reaching your goal will have on your life.  When you buy into the end result before you even begin your steps towards it, you’re more likely to stay focused along your journey to attain it. That helps when you run into rough patches along the way.   Visualization alone, however, won’t get you where you’re headed.   Just like you might plan a trip, plotting how you’ll get there and accounting for the time the entire trip will take, you must plan how and by when you want to reach your goal.

Planning the “how” in goal setting means that you are looking not only at necessary steps you may need to take, but also the order in which those steps need to be taken. At this point, you are mapping how to get from your current situation to the desired situation of successfully completing your goal. While you’re planning, you may run across a step that is new to you.  Perhaps you’ve never done anything like it in the past. It’s at this point that you may need to add additional steps, listed prior to that one, that detail how you will go about acquiring the necessary information, money, or resource you need, or possibly even a skill set that you don’t yet have.  Whatever it is that you need but don’t have, proper planning will more than likely bring it into focus.  There’s nothing more frustrating than jumping into action head first, only to realize you don’t have all the things you need to finish the endeavor successfully.  Begin with the end in mind during the visualization step, and then work backwards in your planning to map out the “how.” 

Once you’re comfortable with the planning steps you just enumerated, you will have the information that you need to establish the “when” of your goal.  The “when” relates to the date you have successfully reached your goal. When you look over your “how” planning steps, you may realize that your goal can be accomplished in less time than you originally anticipated.  It may be that you originally underestimated how long it would take.  Be realistic when you set your target “due” date for reaching your goal.  No matter what, though, you must set a target date.  When we don’t set a date on our calendar for something we want to achieve, it doesn’t usually become a reality. If it by some miracle does, it’s much later than we would have liked it to happen.  Having a target due date allows us to work towards something.  It keeps us on track.  Without it, there is one less accountability push.  With it, we run the race with our eyes fixed on the finish line!

-Stephanie Baker

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from the authors of Organizing From the Heart! We hope that you enjoy a stress-free holiday weekend!

L to R: Karina, Beth and Stephanie
Photo credit: Valerie Presley

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shop with Amazon through Us!

If you are blessed by the posts on Organizing from the Heart, and like to shop at Amazon, please consider launching to Amazon through the search box on the right. If you launch to them through us, H.O.P.E. Unlimited, sponsor/producer of the blog, gets a small percentage of any of your purchases, and it does not affect your prices.

Thank you!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Getting Organized Requires Pruning and Purging

We encourage recycling when possible.
Photo: ©2012 Jupiterimages Corporation

Hebrews 12:1 CEV Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won't let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us.

What slows you down in your home? Is it that pile of coats and shoes that blocks the entry door? What about the junk mail and magazines hanging out at your desk?

Even the most organized person has extra "weight" that bogs them down sometimes. Remember emptying your purse and wondering how you carry all that stuff all the time?

This verse is speaking about getting free from sin, especially repeating sin, so that we can better run the race ahead of us. But it can also apply to the things we hang on to at home, that drain our emotional energy.

There are many reasons we hang on to stuff, partly because we may get a temporary feeling of security when surrounded by our collections. And it's not necessarily wrong to have collections, if they serve a purpose and/or bring you great, ongoing joy. But for many of the items we hang on to at home, that really doesn't apply.

So how can we discard the weight? A little at a time. It can be overwhelming to attack a whole room at once, but could you consider 3-5 items a day, evaluating whether you need to keep them? Start small, like with one drawer in the kitchen. Once you get through that, you may find you have some momentum to tackle some other areas.

And avoid thinking that you will ever be "finished" with organizing your home. Instead, think of it as part of a general routine or habit, similar to cleaning the bathroom or processing mail. Stop organizing once you've reached a particular time limit or stopping point (such as one drawer at a time.) This will keep you from being overwhelmed and you'll see yourself "get up to speed!" in your race!

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Goal Setting Part 5: The Benefits of Achieving Your Goal

Last week, I talked about understanding the “WHY” of a goal. I examined the importance of understanding why you feel a particular goal is important to achieve.  I concluded with the concept that if the goal you’re working towards doesn’t really belong to you (i.e., if it’s being imposed on you by someone else, or you’re doing it to please someone else), then you probably won’t experience sustainability with it even if you do reach it momentarily.  Sustainability is what you’re after when you work towards a goal that brings a desired change.

In order to have sustainability, you need to fully embrace and consider how successfully attaining your goal will affect your life.  It’s important to visualize your life as you imagine it will be once you’ve attained the goal.  When you allow yourself to experience what successfully reaching the goal will feel like, you are giving yourself an upfront taste of the change it brings.  Consider what aspects of your life will be different – better – after you’ve realized this goal.  How will you feel?  What are the emotions that come with this?  What will be different about you – what will others see that is different?  How will your life be improved by realizing this goal?  Will you be healthier?  Will you be wealthier?  Will you be happier?  Will you weigh less?  Will you look different?  Will you be more professionally fulfilled? Sometimes a goal you are working towards will impact other people.  If this is the case for your goal, imagine how those other people will feel as well.  What will be different in your relationship with them?  How will their lives be enriched?

When you allow yourself to develop the image and visualize how your life will be after you successfully reach your goal, then you not only have an image but a feeling to carry with you during your journey to get there. You are beginning – as Stephen Covey says – with the “end” in mind.  You are drawing a picture of the end result to put in your pocket and keep with you on your travels to get there. It serves as a constant reminder to you of what you are working towards and why.

So many times, we allow ourselves to get pulled off the road to achieving a goal.  At the first sign of turbulence on the journey, we forget why we wanted to take the trip in the first place.  This happens because we haven’t really bought into the end result before we ever took the first step towards it.  If we can allow ourselves to concentrate on how victory will feel and what it will mean in our lives and possibly the lives of others, then we are more apt to “stay the course” when the road to it gets bumpy. 

by Stephanie Baker

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Yay! I Had Two Checks!

© 2012 Jupiterimages Corporation

Several weeks ago my husband and I went to apply for passports. We got to the post office processing area only 10 minutes before they stopped processing. I filled out the forms like a maniac and they went ahead and did our process. I hadn't realized that we would need to pay separately for each passport (two separate checks or money orders.) Well, because I had done my practice of checking and replenishing my wallet, voila, I had two checks with me. I usually don't need to carry many but like to have two on hand. So smooth as if it was planned, I simply wrote out the checks and saved the additional cost of getting a money order. It made me glad I was falling into a routine of going through my purse several times a week and replenishing items that had gotten low or I'd used up.

And guess what, we got our passports withing ten days without expedited processing. How cool is that?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Life of a Pint-Sized Mama: Are We Flourishing? {A Giveaway}

Life of a Pint-Sized Mama: Are We Flourishing? {A Giveaway}:  I'm at a stage in life that is so FULL. Full of great things, but also so busy. I desire to spend quality time with my husband and son, me...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Goal Setting Part 4: Thinking Through Our Goals

Thinking through our goals
Many of us don’t do what I call a “360” when we goal plan.  Doing a “360” means that you examine the goal from all possible angles.  You think through the entire process of the goal you want to achieve.  In essence, you walk all the way around the goal, examining every aspect of it.

To successfully achieve a goal, it’s important that we understand these things:
WHY (Why do we want change/improvement in this particular area?)
BENEFITS (In what way will my life change when I realize this goal? Is there anyone else who will be affected by my achievement – if so, how?)
HOW and by WHEN (How and by When do we plan to accomplish this change/improvement?)
WHAT (What resources – people, equipment, etc- will we need to accomplish this change/improvement?)
WHICH (Which obstacles might we be faced with while we’re working towards our goal?)
WHAT IF (What will we do IF we are faced with one of the obstacles we defined)
HOW WILL I KNOW (How will I know if I’ve attained my goal?  What are the measurements by which I’ll know it’s been reached?)
RELEVANCE and REWARD (How important to me is this goal and How will I reward myself once I’ve successfully reached it?)

This week, let’s focus on the “WHY” we want to achieve a goal.  When you focus on the “WHY,” you have to find out from where the desire to change or improve is coming.   When it’s a desire that comes from outside sources or is imposed on us, we tend to fail in our attempts to reach the goal (or change the behavior).  If we do succeed initially with the goal or change in behavior, we lack sustainability.  Sometimes we may even resent the very thing we’ve changed. 

Moreover, embracing a goal because it’s what others think should be our goal can actually keep us from focusing on things that would produce positive change/growth in our lives.  In other words, things like losing weight or quitting smoking (or exercising, or eating healthier – etc,…) can be useful and helpful things to do, but unless we each perceive the value in those things as it relates to our individual lives and our personal desires, our results will not be lasting.   

When we examine the “WHY,” we may need to modify the original goal or even discard it entirely.  That’s not all bad.  That’s how we drill down and focus on the goals that are truly important to us – the ones that WILL change our lives for the better and the ones that will have LASTING positive impact.

Let me speak for a moment from experience.  While I was growing up, our home was spotless.  In fact, it looked like it could be in a magazine.  Everything was always in its place and our home was in pristine condition just in case anyone stopped by unannounced to visit.  This meant that my mother, bless her heart, was constantly cleaning, dusting and vacuuming.  I mean every single day those things were done.  At times, I’m sure you could even have eaten off the floor and been fine (no 5 second rule needed). 

Now, let’s fast forward to my adulthood.  While working unbelievable work week hours at the peak of my corporate career, I carried with me the goal that I had to have my own home as spotless as my parent’s home was when I was growing up.  In order to reach that goal, that meant I would have to spend my weekend – Saturday to be exact – cleaning my home.   My home, you see, was really a 1000 square foot apartment with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  To clean it the way I felt was required to hit my “goal” meant that I would need to spend 4 hours cleaning every Saturday.  Needless to say, I was exhausted when Sunday rolled around.  That didn’t leave much time for “fun” on the weekend, much less time to rest before my grueling work week started over again. 

The other notable factor was that while my home place was indeed clean, I was not progressing forward in building a gratifying social life.  When I met my husband, I realized that I wanted to spend time on the weekend with him instead of with my head stuck in a toilet or tub.  Granted, the clean toilet and tub were rewarding, but not nearly in the same way as having a mutually gratifying relationship with another human being. 

Jokes aside, I had to think about why I willingly embraced a goal that was actually holding me hostage.  I realized, after pondering the WHY for awhile, that the goal belonged to my mother and not me.  That was HER goal, not mine.  I had accidentally packed it when I left home and I needed to return it as soon as possible.  So I did.  What a freeing experience it was to rethink that goal.  Cleanliness was and is important to me, but to make it workable in my world in the form of a personal goal, I needed to realize its relevancy.  How important was that goal to ME? 

Once I decided that, then I could set a new goal with parameters that worked for me.  I redefined what level of “clean” was acceptable for me.  Then I redefined what “filth” meant in my world.  With that done,  I was free to put into forward motion some time management practices that allowed me to work on a far more important goal – spending time with the man that I love and building a lasting relationship.  That goal was more important than the dust on my coffee table that had accumulated during the work week.  After all, I felt like the dust would wait on me. 

Next week: The benefits of achieving your goal.

by Stephanie Baker

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