Goals and Priorities and Tasks

I’m a devoted reader of Living Well Spending Less and of Chalene Johnson, and both ladies emphasize the heck out of goal setting. To set a goal is easy. I’ve been doing that since I was a kid in 4-H. It’s the goal-reaching that’s the kicker.

Between Chalene’s PUSH and her 30 Day Challenge, along with every other personal development article I’ve ever read, I came up with some pretty precise definitions. (Forgive me. I like buckets to tie cute little bows around to understand concepts. It’s how I make sense of my world.) Basically, you have…

  • Goal: A point, whether marked by maintenance of a habit or achievement of a specific object, that you want in your life.
  • Tasks: Individual actions you have to do to reach a goal
  • Priority: A value, belief, or focus of your life that molds your attitude and motivates your action.

So, in other words, my priority to make my husband happy gives me the goal of cooking dinner every night so I need to put grocery shopping on my task list. Or I want to run a 2:00:00 half marathon so I need to clear my schedule on Saturdays, because running on a regular basis is good for my health.

I started the list with goal, because that’s where most people want to start. However, the more I read, the more critical it seems that we start with our priorities. What good does it do to get excited to set the goal of buying a dairy herd if I really really value traveling every other weekend to see family and friends? Am I setting myself up for failure if I dream of a bank account with $1,000,000 by the time I’m 30 while I shop for my next sports car? Priorities also frame our decisions. Attaining 15% body fat and setting a Guinness World Record for eating my body weight in gummy bears are each an admirable pursuit, but which one supports my inherent desire to be healthy for my family?

Then finally, we have tasks. If the goal is 15% body fat, the tasks are to clean out junk food, to buy good food, and to get into an exercise routine. If the goal is to own a milk herd, the tasks are to find financing, to build facilities, and to research the best breed for my area.

The area between a goal “I have/I am/I did” and a task “I bought/I decided/I did” is a little grey. This is where I struggle most, I think. Identifying priorities is pretty hard too, but I think my challenge is limiting my dream world to a specific goal that I have steps I can take, and milestones I can set. “Be healthy” is vague but so is “exercise regularly” and “eat four servings of vegetables each day” seems so unforgiving and still isn’t a guarantee of health. “Repair my relationship with X” can be a moving target, if my dear friend X likes me or dislikes me with varying degrees of rationality. ((Can I get an Amen on that one?)) Is a habit really a goal? When can you really say you’ve achieved a habit? But is a goal only an accomplishment? Are reaching and maintaining separate?

I have my priorities drawn out in my journal (I’ll save you the rambling). I need consistency to reach my goals. Consistency first in making goals, and secondly in working on them. If posting in this medium is the best way for me to reach my goals, I hope you’ll forgive me for taking a step back from the Farm Wife and from the City Life, and stepping up just to be me.

Until next time (when I have a list of goals).

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