2017 Goals and To-do List … Not!

crumpled paper and pen“As I read such admirable paths many take to set goals, define strategies using fancy programs, guides, forms, books and spreadsheets, the only thing that spreads is my confusion.”

“Is anyone else just so weary of to-do lists?”

“I find trying to keep to the goals and plans and organizing methods that we’re exhorted to follow simply exhausting a lot of the time.”

All three of these comments were in response to a group discussion about goal planning for 2017. I joined the laments.

The last two weeks have been filled with newsletters, blog posts, and videos about goals setting, planning, and creative to-do lists. Helpful books here. Goal setting templates there. To-do lists printables all around. It doesn’t matter whether in a writers group, homeschool group, or Facebook. We seem to have become compulsive about planning, especially at the beginning of each year.

Don’t get me wrong, I plan things. In fact, my children say I plan spontaneous activities. I keep a calendar with meetings, travel plans, writing deadlines, and birthdays. If I didn’t I would miss some wonderful experiences. But for me, to plan all aspects of my life create stress and depression. If fact, just this week “plans” went out the window when the hot water heater quit working, the dog was sick enough to take to the vet, and an ill neighbor needed help.

Goal setting? I’ve set goals in years past. The problem was reaching the goal became so all-consuming that relationships were harmed. My work suffered also. I was striving so hard to reach the goal—income goal, words-per-day goal, social media posts goal—I confess, I even forgot God’s part in the goals.

I ran from one method to another. One planner to another. One income-improvement seminar to another social media seminar to one more blogging seminar. I wasn’t meeting my goals, I reasoned, I must need to spend valuable time with more learning how to do it—whatever it was.

At the end of 2015, two things happened that changed my whole perspective. The first was listening carefully to what God had been trying to tell me for months: He has my goal; just follow him. (Isn’t that kind of a “Duh?” moment?) The second was a blogger I follow (and I can’t remember who or I’d give credit) said something like “Start the day reviewing my priorities not my to-do list.” (I wrote it down.)

I was free! Free from agonizing over my yearly, monthly, weekly, daily goals. Free from the stress of not completing a to-do list. Free to say “no,” even to myself.

So I enter into 2017 without a goal…not one. I have priorities, which begin with God’s clear direction in my work, my relationships, and my life.

  • How about you?
  • Do you struggle with goals and the resulting to-do lists?
  • If so, what do you do?

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