Since the first year Tenille and I got married, we have set goals. At first, it started off as an innocent “New Year’s resolutions” exercise that we did together at the beginning of the year. At the beginning of each new year, we would go over our old goals, and make new ones. In the first few years, I was a bit frustrated, because there were goals that we could have easily achieved if we were just reminded a few months before the year was out. What was the point of having goals, if at the end of the year, we just checked off if we did it or not? Over the years this exercise has evolved, and now we have quarterly reviews of our goals where we grade ourselves, and discuss what course corrections we need to make.
As we approach another year, I recently reviewed a talk titled “Of Things that Matter Most” given by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2nd counselor of the First Presidency of our church. There were several nuggets of wonderful counsel that I will be considering as we refine our goal setting process this year.
The first piece of advice is around prioritization.
“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” In short …focus on the things that matter most.
When developing goals, it’s easy to stack one on top of each other. In general, there’s so much that we all want to do. There’s so much that we want to do with our children. There are so many vacations we want to take. There’s so much weight to be lost… Sometimes, we make the mistake of thinking that the more we get done, the better we are… Our sense of self-worth becomes confused with the length of the checklist. The problem with this is that sometimes we are mixing quantity with quality, and the things that matter most might get drowned out by the “nice-to-haves.”
The second point is around balance. When I first heard this section of the talk, I immediately thought of the balanced scorecard. The balanced scorecard is a performance management tool that monitors not only financial metrics of a company, but recognizes the value of metrics related to Customers, Processes, and Learning/Growth. The reason for this approach is because if a company focuses purely on financials (or any other category of metrics), there is a danger of neglecting an aspect of the company which could quickly make it unhealthy.
Similarly, people also require a balance in their lives. Elder Uchtdorf succinctly suggested a categorization by relationships.
1. Relationship with God (Church)
2. Relationship with Family
3. Relationship with Fellowman (Friends and those we come in contact with).
4. Relationship with Self
It’s important to note that the ordering does not suggest prioritization. There are core activities within each category, which if neglected, will make our lives feel out of balance. For example, it’s ok to indulge in recreation for oneself and go sailing, hunting, or play some video games. However, when these activities are starting to affect our time with our children or spouse, or affect church attendance, eventually our lives will feel unbalanced and likely unfulfilled.
Considering these principles, I think this year we’ll denote what are the core goals that we must achieve, and distinguish them from the nice to have goals which must not be achieved at the expense of the core goals.
For the upcoming year, our goals will likely look something like this (which hasn’t changed too much since 2006):
|God/Church||Daily Scripture Study (15 mins)
Daily Personal Prayer
Daily Family Prayer
Monthly Temple Attendance
Monthly Home Teaching
Monthly Visiting Teaching
|Be to church 10 mins early
Sit in first 4 pews
4 missionary activities
|Family||Family Home Evening
(D & T) each spend 6 hours/week of undivided attention with kids
Monthly Budget meeting
Eat one non-starch vegetable at dinner
|Date night (bi-monthly)
Family outing (monthly)
Plan weekly menu
Get kids to bed by 8pm
|Fellowman||8 total service projects
% of income to charity
|Invite 6 new people/families to dinner (Breadth)
Invite existing friends/families for activity (Depth)
|Self||(D & T) Exercise at least 3 times/week
(Don) Track calories (new)
|(Don) Write in journal monthly
(Don) Read 10 books
Participate in 6 musical events
(Don) Take a hunting class(new)
(Don) 2 endurance races
(Tenille’s goals not included)
A few additional points:
1. For the sake of brevity, this is a summary of our goals, and there is another level of quantitative goals, especially for our financial metrics. This year, our financial measures will get an overhaul as a result of our listening to the Dave Ramsey Financial University CDs. Highly recommend. I wish this course was a high school graduation requirement.
2. There is a set of quarterly goals we make for our children. Because they change and develop so quickly, we found it impractical to set annual goals for them. With that said, some goals for the kids:
- (Caleb) multiplication
- (Caleb) play piano with both hands
- (Andrew) Say ABCs
- (Andrew) Count to 10
- (Andrew) Potty Trained
3. Some interesting goals that were either not achieved, or eventually fell off:
- Places to go on vacation (We found we didn’t need a goal to make this happen.)
- Don – publish something.
- Don and Tenille – 1 activity independent of each other. (We both had plenty of activities without a goal forcing us.)
- Don 2007 weight Goal 169 lbs (), 2008 weight Goal – 160 lbs (), 2009 weight Goal – 170 lbs (). 2010 weight Goal – none.