Plan to Live Life on Purpose
As we approach the end of the year, my thoughts turn toward the coming year. I like to spend some quiet time looking back at the year we’ve just lived — its joys and sorrows, its milestones and hurdles — and meditate on what I’ve learned, and where I need to go. As I think through these things, I begin planning for next year. Planning and setting goals helps me live life on purpose, making time for things that matter, rather than letting life just happen.
Living Life on Purpose
Wikipedia defines a goal as “a projected state of affairs that a person or a system plans or intends to achieve.” Goals are not a to-do list, but rather a snapshot of your vision for a desired outcome. Therefore, it’s important to have a very clear picture of what you want to achieve before you set any goals. For many years I have used mission statements to guide my yearly goal-setting, and those statements provide a vision of what I want individual goals to accomplish.
Mission statements can be long or short, but I’ve found that for most people a short, memorable mission statement works best. I prefer to have short, separate mission statements for each of my life roles — mother, wife, daughter, writer, teacher, friend. Here’s my “Mom Mission” statement: “I will create a loving, serene, creative environment that encourages personal and spiritual growth in a warm, nurturing family.” Notice that the mission addresses the “being” part of our family. Goals will address the “doing” end of things.
Once you have a mission statement that captures your vision for a particular area of life, outline up to three goals in that area. It’s important to create just a few realistic goals or you’ll feel overwhelmed and never get started. For instance, goals for my Mom Mission have varied over the years, but usually included daily quiet time, nurturing dinner table conversations, and a focus on home-centered activities. Goals are not tasks — those come next!
In order to meet goals, you’ll need to create a plan for making it happen. Ask yourself what needs to happen in order to meet your goals.
- Is there something you need to make, buy, move, repurpose, or change?
- Do you need to revise your daily schedule (or create one) in order to make time for something new?
- What do you need to communicate to your children, and how will you do so?
List what you need to do in order to achieve the goal, and estimate how long it might take to accomplish it.
For example, if you want to begin having a daily quiet time for each person in the family, decide where each person’s quiet time spot will be (everyone needs to have a separate space, even if it’s just tucked behind a sofa or under the dining room table). Make a list of the kinds of activities that are permitted during quiet time — I always allowed naps, reading, writing, drawing, clay, or quiet building blocks — and share the list with everyone.
If you’ve never done quiet time with your family, briefly explain what you’re doing and why. Share the idea with joy and enthusiasm so they’ll understand that it’s something wonderful for everyone. If you meet with resistance, simply move forward, being pleasant but firm. Remember, you’re the mom!
Living life on purpose takes planning, but making time for things that matter means being flexible. Once you’ve established your vision and goals, remember that the long-term mission is more important than the stort-term task list. If you take your eyes off the goal of a loving, serene, creative environment, you might find yourself snapping at children who interrupt while you’re virtuously rearranging the house to accomodate quiet time. It’s often harder to live the fruit of the spirit than it is to complete a to-do list, but your mission statement can keep you focused.