Reaching for the Light Ahead

It may be difficult to keep our goals in front of us, especially if the goals are long-term and will take many months to achieve. Even if you have a mission statement and know what the end-goal is for you, it might help to set achievable milestones along the way. Mini-goals—if you will—that are realistic to achieve and that will help you to measure your progress forward. Collins (2002) writes that our goals should be specific and should stimulate you to action. Small wins along the way can help you to move on to the next goal and once step closer to reaching the light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m a very visual person and I need to keep my goal in front of me to achieve it. I offer the following as some ideas for you to consider:

School: Have you set on a new career for yourself that requires you to improve your skill set? Have your just started out with school and the end seems so far away? Try creating a wall calendar and create a box for each class you need to complete for your program of study. You don’t need the exact names of your courses, just the number of courses needed to complete. If you have a few tough classes coming up—for me that would be math—specifically title a box for each of those classes. Just like counting the days down; count your classes down. You will be able to see your progress and plan for the future.

Big Purchases: As I follow Dave Ramsey’s guide to financial freedom I have learned that I need to plan for future big purchases. If you know you will need a car in a few years, or if there is that dream vehicle you have to have—plan for it. Don’t grab the dream only to end up with a debt that will weigh you down. Get a poster board. Find a few pictures of the car you want. Cut out tires, the steering wheel, bumpers, and other parts of the car. Draw a template of the car on the poster board. Take the overall price of the car and break it down into manageable parts—maybe a couple hundred dollars a month. As you set money aside for your car, add a piece of the car to the template. Little by little you will build your car until you are ready to purchase it. You will have tangible evidence that you are saving for the car and buying it piece by piece. You can do this with a house, living room furniture, new kitchen appliances, a new wardrobe, or whatever big expense you need to plan for.

Losing Weight: Do you know the weight you should be for living a healthier lifestyle? Do you know what size is the right size for you? Go to the department store of your liking and pick out a pair of jeans or a tight skirt that fit you today. Take a picture. Take a picture of the next size down and so on, until you are to the size you would like to be. Print out each page and staple them together at the top. Post it in the kitchen or wherever your weak spot is. Tear off the size you are today because you are putting that size behind you. As you start your healthy eating and exercise plan, keep an eye on the next size down. Just one size is all you need. When you are comfortably wearing that size, tear off that page and focus on the next size. Do that until you are at the size you want and then go celebrate by purchasing the new garment for yourself.

I’m a big proponent of keeping it simple. I think if we can take bite-size chunks at our goal, we will get through the tunnel and to the light of our goal. We may get stuck from time-to-time, but if you can keep the near-term vision in front of you, the long-term goal should be just around the corner!

What strategies do you use to reach your goals? Do you have visual aids you use or other moving forward tools? I would love to hear about them. Please share in the comments here or on Facebook.

© maggiemarcum.com

Reference: Collins, G. (2002) Christian coaching: helping others turn potential into reality, NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO

Digging Out

As much as I complain about winter and snow, there is something cathartic about digging out a pathway through the snow. I usually start out alone, clearing the dusty snow as it falls, hoping to stay ahead of the storm. I will go back at it over and over. My daughter shakes her head at me wondering why I don’t just wait until the snow stops. I tell her it is because it will be too much to do all at once and it is better to clear away a little at a time. Eventually she will join me outside and together we clear the snow away in half the time it took me. And usually there are snowballs involved and much more laughter than when I am alone with my deep thoughts.

Sometimes I think my walk with Jesus is like that. I am digging out and trying to make the right choices on my own. I keep going back at my problem area and trying to figure out how to get out of the latest mess, only to find the path covered up again and myself set on repeat. As I have said, I tend to be a slow learner which is Maggiespeak for “stubborn” or “self-willed.” If I say that I trust in the Lord then why do I not trust in the way that he shows me? Why do I insist on doing it my way? Why am I so afraid of accepting guidance or assistance?

My personal focus these days is on my financial situation. Because I made decisions about the path I would take—one that made it look like I was affording to live the upper middleclass life in DC—I am now drowning in debt. Over the years I made some bad choices about where to live and how much I could afford to spend. I put myself in situations that were too costly, hoping that if I had enough stuff surrounding me I could avoid the pain inside and appear to be successful just like everyone else. And it was working—for everyone but me.

Today I am digging out again but this time I am doing it with guidance from God through others. And it is HARD!! I am getting better at giving back to God what is his. I am better at giving of my time to help others. I am better at reading the Bible and learning more about these principles I hold so dear. I am sitting in a small condo/apartment having given most of my old stuff away to people who actually needed it. I am living on cash only and saying “no,” even when my mind says: “buy it, it will be ok.” His path; not my path. His guidance; not my desires. Slowly I am seeing the light. Slowly the snow is not covering up my mistakes and I am resting for longer periods. Slowly God is turning my life around once again. Little by little the path is clearing. I’ll let you know how it goes but I am thinking this time the path may just stay clear ahead.

Show me the path where I should walk, O, Lord; point out the right road for me to follow.

Psalm 25:4 New Living Testament