Tag Archives: goals

Don’t let your dreams breed discontent

Reach for the stars!

Hard work and sacrifice pay off!

Don’t downgrade your dream just to fit your reality!

She believed she could, and so she did!

If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it!

I think most of us have heard some or all of these motivational phrases during our lives, maybe we’ve even said a few to encourage our friends or children. Maybe we have posters hanging in our office or classroom with these or similar maxims.

{raises hand}

Chasing after super-sized goals and bold dreams is a beautiful thing. I think it connects us to our humanity. It crosses the divides of age, gender, culture, race, and religion. It’s how progress is made and change is initiated.

But there seems to be a growing wariness around the connection between dreaming big and feeling discontent. Especially among women.

Never have women had more opportunities available to us than we do today. Thanks to better access to quality education, greater opportunities for start-up businesses, and, let’s face it, social media, there’s been a rise in successful, seemingly “self-made” women cheering on the rest of us with their mantras of “lean-in”, “stop apologizing”, and just “say yes”. Women can now “brave the wilderness”, “live beyond fear”, and discover that “the universe has our back”. It all sounds so enticing doesn’t it? Wrapped up in pretty paper covered packages, it seems like success is just within our reach.

But is it?

Now please don’t misunderstand, this is not a criticism of these books or the authors, some of whom I happen to respect and admire. Admittedly, I have not read most of the mentioned books, and for all I know some of them may be chock-full of sound advice and truth. But what I do read are articles, blog posts and letters from women who feel like they are not enough. I hear friends share the overwhelming amount of anxiety and pressure they feel to do more, be more, achieve more. I see my daughters, still teenagers, combating an image of perfection that they believe they must achieve in everything they try. And I have battled my own feelings of discontent and failure — both professionally and personally.

Here’s what I don’t hear or read much of:

“I’m so happy with my life, right where it is.”

“God has blessed me with a season where I can slow down and smell the roses.”

“I am enough. Right here, right now, just as I am. I am enough.”

And it concerns me that we’ve mistaken chasing after dreams as an obligation to be more. We’ve misunderstood our goals to be a yard stick showing us just how we measure up (or don’t) based on achievement. We’ve decided our resumes are a better indication of our value and worth than our hearts.

It’s so damaging. So detrimental. So not in alignment with God’s calling for our lives.

God has no problem with us dreaming big or achieving success. Some of God’s chosen were very successful in life — just look at Job, Boaz, Joseph, and David. But God does make it clear that any success we have is to bring him glory. Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

This is where I think some of the modern day mantra of chasing our dreams and striving for success falls short. So often the ones touting their own success — and their six simple steps to achieving our own — make it all about them, or me, or we. But never about He.

As long as we are dreaming big and striving for that glass ceiling as a means to bring recognition and praise to our own name, we are inevitably going to feel a sense of discontent. Even when we achieve a big milestone or goal, the feeling of satisfaction will be temporary, and we’ll already be looking at the next great thing; because when it’s all about us, it’s never enough.

When it’s all about me, having 2,000 people read my blog is not enough. When it’s all about Him, having one person touched or encouraged by something I wrote is enough.

When it’s all about me, having the same mid-level job for ten years is not enough. When it’s all about Him, working hard, demonstrating kindness and respect to my coworkers is enough.

When it’s all about me, staying home all day wiping noses, folding clothes, preparing meals, and vacuuming carpets is not enough. When it’s all about Him, loving on my children and caring for my family is enough.

When it’s all about me, pastoring a church with 75 members and never enough in the collection plate is not enough. When it’s all about Him, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and shepherding even one of those 75 is enough.

I’m not saying to throw in the towel and stop dreaming. I’ve still got big dreams for this little blog and my tiny, start-up ministry. But I also know that whatever success I have is only because of Him, and only so that I can bring Him glory. If my work leads to 10 more people knowing His name that will be a much greater success than 10,000 people knowing mine.



Cover photo by Katrina on Unsplash

Are your core values what’s driving you?

I clicked the button to confirm my account and the first question popped up: “What are your core values?”

And I had to stop and think. I wasn’t expecting such a deep question from an app.

I was working in my new goal tracking app, Lifetick, and thinking I would just enter in my goals for 2018 and a set a few deadlines and notifications and be done with it. But before I could do that, this app wanted to know my core values.

You see the app takes a pyramid approach where you first identify core values, then set goals based on each core value, and lastly you can set-up specific tasks tied to each goal. This approach is not unfamiliar to me, as it’s very similar to how I’ve had to approach every marketing or business plan I’ve ever worked on (hello grad school, thanks for drilling that into my head!). But for some reason I had never stopped to take that same kind of tiered approach to my personal life. And as I sat there staring at that question on the screen it was a total epiphany moment for me.

Why would I spend my time doing anything or striving for any goal if I couldn’t tie it back to a core value? Or another way of putting that, if I couldn’t identify how my daily tasks and goals were supporting one of my core values, maybe it was time to rethink how I spend my time.

After some thought and reflection, here are the three core values I came up with:

  1. To pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ.
  2. To be a good steward of all that God has given me.
  3. To let the light of Jesus shine through me.

These might seem pretty altruistic or simplistic to you, but when I thought about what I valued most, what I wanted my life to look like at the core, these were it. And you know what, tying goals to these is not very hard.

For example one of my goals is to get moving for 20 minutes a day for the next 30 days. This directly aligns with core value #2 because God gave me this body, and if I don’t take care of it I’m not being a good steward of the gift He’s offered.

It also made me re-look at some of my goals and see if things were a bit imbalanced in my life or didn’t tie-back to a core value. Did I have any goals set that would directly support my core value of pursuing a relationship with Jesus? How did my work goals support my core values?

For now, I’ve only set-up four goals. I’m sure there will be more to come over time, but by keeping a focus on my core values, I was able to give myself permission to take a few things off my list. I’m making sure all of my time and energy is spent pursuing things that tie into the core of who I strive to be as a person. It’s also given me a greater sense of purpose for each of these goals because I can see the big picture. Getting fit isn’t just something I should be doing because everyone says so, or because I feel pressure to do so, it’s something I should be doing to honor God and take care of the body He gave me. That certainly lends a level of motivation I didn’t have before.

Do you know what your core values are? Do you see a direct link between your goals and daily tasks and these values? Maybe spend some time thinking about this and writing down your values. You don’t need an app to do this, but Lifetick is free and so far has been very easy to use!



photo credit: wuestenigel 2018 Goals in Notebook with a Pen via photopin (license)


The year of living 40

I’ve never been much into New Year’s resolutions. Maybe it’s because my A-type personality means I’m always looking ahead, making a plan, and setting personal goals, so I don’t feel the need to do it every January 1st. Or maybe it’s because I know that annual resolution to exercise more and eat better will be tossed out the window within 2 weeks.

Either way, I did not feel compelled to make a list of resolutions this week just because it’s the start of a new year. However, I have been thinking about 2017 a lot lately. Actually I’ve been thinking about this year for most of 2016…because it’s going to be a bit of a milestone year for me.

This is the year I turn 40.

The gateway to middle-age.

Surprisingly, I’m not afraid of the number. I fully enjoyed my 30’s and every new life lesson and experience they brought. I did a lot of growing and discovering in my 30’s and I kind of like this 39 year old version of me…she’s definitely got a much better handle on what’s really important in life than the 29 year old version did. So I’m kinda looking forward to seeing what my 40’s will bring. However, I do see it as a milestone year and there are some things I would like to focus on as I leave one decade and pass through that gateway to the next.

So for the last month I’ve been compiling a list…a list of goals, habits, adventures, and achievements I wanted to reach by 40. It started as 10 items and quickly grew. By the time it hit 28 items I thought, “what the heck, might as well make it an even 40!” Of course, I turn 40 in May and once I finished my list I realized I can not realistically accomplish all of these things before said milestone; and I want this list to be achievable. So I’m giving myself the full year to get through the list. Making 2017 the year of living 40.

So here it is, in no particular order:

1. Get rid of 40 personal items
2. Bring total number of US states visited to 40
3. Write 40 blog posts
4. Write 40 letters/cards to friends and family
5. Lose 40 pounds
6. Read 40 books of the Bible
7. Read 40 other books
8. Serve/volunteer 40 hours
9. Run 40 miles (cumulative, not at one time)
10. Try 40 new things
11. Give up 40 minutes of TV per day
12. Add 40 minutes of sleep per night (11 and 12 go hand-in-hand)
13. Do 40 push-ups at one time
14. Make a list of my favorite 40 movies and watch them
15. Write my husband 40 love notes
16. Study scripture/pray for 40 minutes per day
17. Call my Grandma 40 times
18. Drink 40 cups of tea
19. Save $40 per week
20. Make a playlist of my favorite 40 songs and listen to it regularly
21. Limit social media to 40 minutes per week
22. Exercise for 40 minutes 3x per week
23. Take 40 naps
24. Count to 40 when I start to lose my patience
25. Do 40 nice things for myself
26. Write my kids 40 lunchbox notes
27. Hike 40 miles
28. Try 40 new recipes
29. Meet 40 new people
30. Minister to 40 different women via the women’s retreat
31. Go on 40 dates with my husband
32. Snuggle with my kids for 40 minutes every week
33. Read 40 poems
34. Spend 40 hours watching live music and/or theater
35. Get rid of another 40 items
36. Make at least 40 mistakes
37. Forgive myself at least 40 times
38. Write the first 40 pages of my book
39. Forgive others 40 times
40. Laugh, dance, and/or sing for 40 minutes per day

In addition to my list of goals/adventures/habits above, I’ve also decided to chose a Bible verse that represents where I want to keep my focus for the year. The last two years I’ve ended up with bible verses that sum up my year quite accidentally, and I’m sure God will bring a me a few this year that I don’t plan or expect. But in the meantime I’m going with “Peace I leave with you; my peace peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

I chose this verse because if there is one message God has been pursuing my heart with over the last year or so it’s that true peace comes only through Him and not the world. I’ve spent so much of my life looking for peace to come from relationships, jobs, vacations, things, etc. and always wondering why it was so fleeting. So for 2017 — and my 40’s — I plan to work on pursuing peace from my Creator and Savior, and doing so without fear or worry.

As you can see above, one of my year of living 40 goals is to write 40 blog posts — which if you do the math equates to roughly one post every nine days. So I’ll be keeping you updated on how it’s going and you can help me be accountable. I’ve already got the spreadsheet for keeping track of this stuff (remember, I did say I have an A-type personality). And no matter what age you’re turning this year, let me know what goals/habits/adventures/achievements you are pursuing in 2017.

Hello middle-age. Let’s do this.

40 photo credit: Leo Reynolds East Of India House Number 40 via photopin (license)