There’s work and school and dinner to be made. You have bills to pay, errands to run and events to attend. How do people have time for themselves?
By creating a routine, you can identify your non-negotiables and be flexible with the rest. You can pinpoint what habits bring you energy and which ones are time-wasters.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR ROUTINE
The key is not to add to your schedule, but to simplify it. Use these tips to create a routine that helps you reach your goals.
1. Write down your set-time essentials.
For example: wake and bed times, work/school start and end times, meal times.
2. Write down your flexible essentials.
For example: chores, errands, reply to emails.
3. Choose one goal to add to your schedule.
Referring to your goal list you made, choose ONE goal and find a free time for it in your schedule each day. For example: go to the gym, quiet Bible study time, play a game with the kids
4. Update your goals as you reach them.
Reaching your goals will be measured by your own standards. Do you want to do the same thing 21 days in a row? Three times a week for a month? Set your specifics and reward your milestones. Then build on what you’ve accomplished.
As you reach your goals, you may need to take them off the chart and replace them with a new goal. Other times, you may want to build on that goal by keeping your first goal in place and finding another chunk of time to work on your second goal.
Your routine should basically stay the same from day to day, with minor adjustments as you go throughout the year. The key to reaching goals is consistency, so try not to rock the routine too much, otherwise it won’t set in and become automatic.
Have big goals but not making any progress on reaching them? Follow these six steps to set yourself up for success and learn why you’re getting stuck.
WHY YOU’RE NOT REACHING YOUR GOALS
So you’ve set a goal. You want to get up early, you want to eat healthier, you want to be more present with your family, but…it’s not happening. Why?
You did all this work setting these big goals and dreams, but life is too busy, fast food is too convenient, plus there’s your job, and the house and all the other stuff you can’t think of right now because you’re too tired to remember.
Well friend, it’s not hopeless for you. I promise! You just need a few things in place to help set yourself up for success. For example, you wouldn’t expect your kids to learn to read without giving them a few tools and practices to start, right? You can’t just throw a few books at a kid and say READ! You use strategies:
GOAL: Get MY child to read
Enroll in school
Buy easy reader books to have at home
Read to my child daily
Teach her the ABCs
Practice letter sounds
So why do we set ourselves up for failure when it comes to reaching our own goals? I’m speaking to the choir here. Why do I tell myself to eat healthier and then add chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches to the grocery list?
The problem isn’t with our goals, the problem is the strategies we use to achieve them.
6 STEPS TO REACHING YOUR GOALS
First, if you haven’t set goals for yourself, go back and read this post.
Then choose ONE goal you want to work on. I know you’re going to want to tackle them all, but too much at once is setting yourself up for failure. Focus on ONE goal at a time.
The impatient part of me is struggling with this too. I want to go faster, I want to do more! But seriously, go slow. Get good at ONE goal, and then build on it. Don’t go halfway on a goal and then pick up another one along the way. Chances are, you’ll reach neither. Get good at one thing before you move to the next.
1. NARROW IT DOWN
Want to exercise more? Great! But if you expect to be motivated every day for the next 30 days, you’re kidding yourself. Try to pinpoint specifics you want to accomplish, rather than general ideas.
“Exercise more” vs “I want to exercise for 30 minutes 3 times a week.”
“Sell my crafts online” vs “I want to open an Etsy shop, create 5 new products and buy business cards by the end of the year.”
“Be more present with my kids” vs “I want to set a bedtime for my kids where I’ll read a story to them each night and play a board game after school.”
2. GET MOTIVATED
Why is it that you are even working toward this goal? Write down all the reasons you want to achieve it and refer to it when you feel like making excuses or giving up.
GOAL: EAT HEALTHIER
Increase my energy
Lower my cholesterol levels
Reduce the amount of medications I take
Improve my moods
Model healthy eating habits for my children
3. MAKE IT REALISTIC
You may be super excited about reaching big goals, but you have to be realistic in what you’re asking of yourself. If you’re wanting your child to potty train, you can’t expect it to happen overnight. Any area where you want to grow will take time and patience.
GOAL: LEARN HOW TO PLAY THE PIANO
Buy a beginner’s book. (1 week)
Learn how to read music. (1 month)
Memorize scales. (1 month)
Play a song using two hands. (1 week)
Learn Moonlit Sonata. (2 weeks)
4. TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
Find a way to track your progress that you enjoy. Is it checking off a list? Marking off dates on the calendar? Tally marks on the bathroom mirror? Make it fun! Get creative! Buy a cute notebook and write down what you did each day to get yourself closer to the end goal.
5. REWARD YOURSELF
There will be bumps along the way. There will be days where you want to skip, cheat or quit. Give yourself tangible checkpoints to set up little rewards along the way.
GOAL: WRITE A BOOK
Read 3 books by authors I admire in that genre (get to shop for a writer’s notebook)
Brainstorm ideas and set up an outline (can watch that movie you’ve been wanting to see)
Have a goal of reading 52 books in a year? Well it’s June and you’re at 12, so maybe you need to change up your goal instead of neglecting everything else to try and keep up! Remember, these goals are to help you become a better version of yourself, not to turn yourself into a stressed out, to-do-list-making monster.
If you feel like maybe you need to break your goal down further, or set the deadline to a later date, that’s your call! You are the one in charge, set yourself up for success, not failure!
PRINT YOUR GOAL WORKSHEET
I’ve created a fun and simple worksheet that you can print to help you break down your BIG GOAL into SMALL STEPS. Print yours here. Refer to this example on how to fill it out:
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Want a little more guidance on where to start? Then check out this NEW Goal Setting Workbook I created just for you! You can find it in my shop here:
Out of the 34 books on my list last year, here are my recommendations in historical fiction, Bible studies, memoir, and self-help.
*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for more info.
2020–WHAT A YEAR
I thought this would be the year I read the most. We spent seven and a half months at home–but I felt busier than ever. I had big plans to get so much work done, but having a husband who suddenly started working from home and took over the office, and kids who needed me to become their substitute teacher, demanded more attention than I had planned on giving.
However, I did get a lot of work done, and managed to fit in some reading, but sadly, I missed the mark on my 40 book goal for the year. I made it to 34 (and I counted a few of the read alouds with the kids to make myself feel better…)
But the point of setting any goal is personal growth. And this year taught me more than I could find in a book. I had to learn to let go of my plans and become more spontaneous. To be more present with my children (still working on that) and to practice gratitude and keep my fears in check. I may actually have done more writing than reading this year, which is also a personal win!
So if you are beating yourself up about some unmet goals from last year—stop and give yourself some grace.
Two things I love–creativity and Jesus. This unique book explores the concept that every person has creativity within them, whether it’s through a paintbrush, your people skills, or the way you manage a classroom. McManus empowers you to discover what makes you creative and use it in a way to bring glory to God.
2. “The Perfect Couple” by Elgin Hilderbrand
This was a fun summer read by an author I’ve never tried. I really enjoyed this fictional murder mystery that kept me guessing the whole way through. Not gory and disturbing like most fiction books out there, this one won’t leave you traumatized after you finish it…
3. “The Store” by James Patterson
Another quick read, but the ending was a little flat for me. I still wanted to add it to the list because it kept you interested and was based on the concept of an online store that basically takes over the world, making you wonder if convenience is really worth the privacy you lose…
4. “Daring to Hope” by Katie Davis
If you know me, you know I rave about Kisses from Katie which I discovered years ago. A beautifully written memoir, this sequel follows Katie’s journey from gap year college student turned mother of 13 living in Uganda, to a wife, missionary and founder of Amazima ministry.
5. “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah
Probably the best book I read last year, but one of the hardest I’ve ever read. This historical fiction novel tells the story of two German sisters living in Germany during World War II. I’ve never read a book from the perspective of the women left behind and what they had to endure. No one was safe back then.
6. “The Princess Diarist” by Carrie Fischer
This is the personal diary (and her later commentary) of Carrie Fischer when she was hired for the first Star Wars movie. What made this book so popular (and the reason I picked it up) had nothing to do with Star Wars, but the affair Harrison Ford had with her at the time. Before this book, I reluctantly watched a few Star Wars movies when others put them on. Let’s just say I’ve worked my way through everything on Disney+ in the Star Wars section after reading this…
7. The Complete Alice Series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
When I was in elementary school, I discovered a series about a girl my age named Alice and fell in love with it. These books were not only funny, but they talked about a lot of taboo coming-of-age topics that I was afraid to ask my parents about. I followed Alice through middle school and then lost an overall interest in reading for years. When I got back into it after college, I discovered that not only did the series continue, but the author wrote out the rest of Alice’s life all the way through retirement! While I honestly don’t know if I will recommend these later books for my daughter because of the sensitive material, it was like going through a time machine reading these myself. I loved that I got to see Alice grow up over the years.
8. “The Mindbody Prescription” by John Sarno
I discovered this book when I tried out an app called Curable, looking for something to combat my chronic pain. While I know Lyme pain isn’t in my head, this book explores the reality that a lot of chronic pain is “learned pain” and we have to retrain our brains to deal with it in a way that diminishes its power over our lives. I learned a lot about myself and my tendency to catastrophize my pain.
9. “The Mindbody Workbook” by David Schechter
After I finished the Mindbody Prescription, I found this workbook in the appendix and decided to give it a try. While I am not completely pain-free, I learned a lot about myself in completing this workbook and felt like I had a daily therapy session through writing while working on this. I still use the prompts and things I learned to deal with my pain from this on a daily basis. Highly recommend these resources for chronic pain sufferers.
10. “Women of the Word” by Jen Wilkin
This Bible study/Christian living book is short and simple, but packs a punch. Wilkin walks you through how you approach your Bible study and challenges you to take it further and question whether you’re truly studying the Bible, or feeding into your own personal beliefs. I enjoyed this so much, I completed it with a group and then led another zoom study group on my own afterward.
11. “Out of the Woods” by Katina Makris
The most uplifting book I’ve ever read about Lyme disease, this book follows the theme of the previous chronic pain books I read this year, in that in order to address real, physical pain, we have to address what’s going on in our minds. Half-memoir, half-medical advice, this book is written by a fellow Lymie and follows her path to healing.
12. “Girl, Stop Apologizing” by Rachel Hollis
I know there are mixed reviews of this girl in Christian circles, but as a woman who has been through the trauma she’s been though, you start to understand why her emphasis is so much on self. If you find yourself reading this self-help, empowering book through a lens of judgement, maybe it’s not for you–but I personally loved her message and story and practical tips to learn to love yourself and dream big.
13. “The Power Project” by Brandi Voth
I have a confession, I only read this book because I know this person, but seriously—it was so good! Fans of Rachel Hollis will love this one because it’s messages are similar, but presented in very different ways. Brandi tells her story of her back surgery and recovery from scoliosis as a child, the complications that came after, the perseverance it takes to make a marriage work, and learning the practice of being confident in who you are and using the gifts you have. Inspiring, encouraging, loved everything about this one.
14. “Meditation and Mindfulness” by Andy Puddicombe
Written by the founder of Headspace (my favorite app!), Andy tells the personal story of his journey from college student to circus performer turned monk. Yes, you read that right. His simple down to earth approach to meditation takes the “weirdness” out of this practice and makes it applicable to anyone, anywhere. The biggest thing I took away from this book were skills to help me become more present in what I was doing outside of my meditation practice. Definitely recommend if you struggle with anxiety or distractions while being with your family.