Welcome to Val’s annual goal series! We’re releasing a new goals-related blog post each day.
If you desire more focus and consistency and less distractions and distance from the Lord, now is the perfect time to grab our yearly prayer journal for 2024. Grab one here. And don’t miss Val’s class on how to use our prayer journals and overcome common obstacles. Find it here.
It’s Monday night at 8:32 pm. I’m supposed to have my 2024 goals ready to publish in the morning. And after more than 10 years of goal setting (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023) I find myself in a bit of a pickle. You see, it’s not a stretch to say I normally have my goals locked and loaded by Thanksgiving. But this year has felt so strange. I’ve been procrastinating like crazy and not totally sure why…until today.
As I hopped on Instagram today enjoying all of your journal posts, I couldn’t help but notice all the In for 2024 / Out for 2024 posts.
In: Sleeping in, Intentional Family Time, Baking bread. All the things we know are good.
Out: Mindless scrolling, negative self-talk, comparison. All the things we know aren’t good.
As I read them, annoyance crept in. Not because they were wrong. But because I was tired of seeing the same things on our lists. Aren’t these items kind of obvious? I felt like I was echoing Paul in Romans 7:15
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
Am I really going to put less screen time as a goal AGAIN? (I’d like to go on record that I did make major strides in early January 2020 and then Covid hit and a presidential election and all bets were off. I digress. And the phone is still an issue.
So as I’ve wrestled with goals for 2024, nothing feels right. I feel a little bored with the whole thing. Like it’s been drained of it’s power. And I think I know why. No matter how hard we try to focus on God-centered goals, it’s still very easy to give goals a God-spin while still attempting to do it in our own strength. So before I share where I landed with my goals, here’s what I’m wrestling with:
1. Saying I can’t change denies our sanctification.
As believers, we are being transformed. A set of badly executed goals doesn’t need to be our metric for eternal transformation. If you assume you can’t change, you’re essentially saying God is wrong. It’s not that we can’t change, it’s just that we can’t change in our own power and in our own timing. Philippians 1:6 says “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Tuck that in for the next time someone mentions that goal you’ve been making repeatedly for the last 5 years.
2. I don’t want to know everything I will do this year.
I want to be surprised by God. I want to live with enough space that my precious plans can be interrupted with things only God could dream up. I want to wait in expectation at the things that He will do in my life as I seek Him. Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
3. Planning isn’t bad at all, but those plans should ultimately be surrendered.
Proverbs 16:19 says “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” About the verse, David Guzik says. “We plan as we can and should, but we should never think that our ability to plan makes us lord over our lives. It is the Lord who directs our steps. Every plan we make should be held in humility before God and in surrender to His ultimate will.”
4. Abandoning goals can sound good, but is it?
It’s trendy to abandon goals altogether in favor of spirit-led life, and maybe I’m too cynical, but is it an excuse to avoid discipline and hard work? If it’s truly about a surrendered life, that’s a beautiful thing. I just wonder if it’s a convenient excuse with no intention of pursuing God’s direction on an ongoing basis. Are we ready to obey? Are we comfortable with that uncertainty or a long wait? I’d love to be wrong! Just challenging us to dig deep and see what it would look like to pursue God’s plan for our life.
5. If it’s worth me setting as a goal, it’s more than worth me praying for.
Maybe this is an obvious challenge from the prayer journal girl but may I recommend? Don’t make a single goal if you don’t plan to pray about it. If we aren’t inviting the Lord to work in our life, we can muster the strength of a small army and it still won’t do what the living God can do when we come to Him.
And with that, I looked at my 2024 goals a little differently this year. Here was my process:
- I got a big poster board and jotted down all the things I thought about wanting to do in 2024. I made a little key for myself. Different highlights per category, like family, work, spiritual, community, etc. And little markings to see what things were habits, one-time goals or projects, principles and prayers (granted they will all be prayed for but some will only be prayed for and not taken action on).
- I looked to see if I could simplify things by asking:
- Can I combine anything?
- Can I make it smaller?
- How will it fit?
- Based on the 80/20 rule, is it part of the 20?
- I am setting 5 goals only so I have plenty of room to pivot like a lean ship if the Lord redirects my steps. I will be praying about many areas (some below) and will be tucking away my list of other to-dos to revisit down the road as the Lord permits.
1. Prevent additional cysts.
I had my second cyst removal surgery in under 2.5 years in December and would like to prevent future endometrial cysts naturally if possible. This will require some lifestyle changes and discipline. It’s a big priority because I can’t keep having this surgery every few years and will need medicine that has some negative side effects if we can’t prevent more cysts.
2. Figure out family meal rhythms.
Mornings and evenings can be a bit chaotic, especially during the school year. I’m incessantly trying to get the girls to eat some protein and more veggies and there are just too many battles involved. We have some really sweet dinners and tons of laughter when we’re around the table I’d love to make a consistent rhythm in our home. I’d love to address: How do we teach gratitude for what’s in front of you? How do we avoid the last-minute meal decisions? What can I eat for breakfast (since I need to eat within an hour of waking up) that won’t wake the whole house?
3. Execute the great purge of 2024.
Many people consider us minimalist, but we have let stuff creep in over the years and it just results in a ton of tidying. My goal is to simplify our closets and stuff by a significant amount so we spend less time managing our things and more time living and be the weird minimalist friends again.
4. Create a holistic workday routine.
As a business owner, confining our work into a set amount of hours is so difficult. Though I don’t work more than 15 hours a week according to Toggl, my work occupies my mind outside of those hours a good bit. A quick Slack during homework time. A response to a DM when it’s time to sit down for dinner. Even a middle of the night run to the phone to check on something I forgot. I am such an ambitious girl that’s is super easy for me to overplan but this year, I want to work differently. I want to not procrastinate my best work hours on reactionary tasks. I want to write more. I want to have slow lunches sitting outside on my stoop away from phones or my laptop. I want to keep having a good buffer between work and picking up the girls. And I want work to stay in the confines of the girl’s school time except summer of course.
5. Have a specific Bible plan and prayer plan.
I will be reading through the Bible in a year with Phylicia Masonheimer and am excited about the structure. I’ve read through the Bible in a year a few times and the Bible in 100 days but have taken a break the last bit. I also want to use my prayer journal to the fullest. Besides keeping my regular sections, I’ll be writing 10 things to pray for in the front of my prayer journal. More below.
These are some of the items as I sifted through goals that weren’t either weren’t super actionable, timley or things I’ve tried before and want to rest completely in praying only for it for a while:
- Comfortable with uncertainty
- Comfortable with aging
- Lift up other prayer missions (instead of seeing them as competition)
- More flexibility / less controlling
- Security / no comparison
- Live with less fear
- Tyler’s future
- Our churches growth
- Our physical home
Here were the things that had no big habit or goal but things to keep in mind as I go through the year:
- Consecrated days to the Lord
- Less but better photos
- Slow and steady progress
- Don’t overbook
- Address the heart with the girls and not just behavior issues
- Have more fun
- Write for your reader
Phew! I know this year’s goals looked different but can I just say as cynical as this posts may sound, I’m actually super excited simply my goals and spend more time praying about what the things I long to see the Lord change in me. I’m excited to be nimble (BTW that was alllllmost my word for the year) and flexible to follow where the Lord leads. Almost as if my 2018 word for the year, Led, Not Driven is making a comeback.
Feel free to ask any questions in the comments if you’d like more specifics! It’s 11 pm and I am not a nighttime writer. 😜
COMING UP NEXT:
- My Word for the Year
- 40 Books for 2024