If you’re a mom, then you naturally have your hands full. They’re filled with little hands, big hugs, blessings, trials, dirty diapers, clean clothes, pacifiers, bath toys, school work, and the list goes on!
Whether you have one child or twelve, being a mom is a round-the-clock job that requires plenty of patience, fortitude, and grace as we’re meeting needs and caring for our people.
Motherhood is a beautiful, hard, rewarding, exhausting calling. Amen?
As moms, we typically live in the urgent and important, but can have trouble making time for the important but not urgent. (Read up on Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle if you’re curious.)
Things like our hobbies, exercise, self-care, home businesses, and time with the Lord are the first to fall through the cracks when life gets a little crazy.
But if we’re living without a plan, it won’t matter whether life is crazy or not. Those important but not urgent things still won’t get the attention they need.
That’s where goal setting comes in!
Goal Setting When Your Hands Are Full
Goal setting before I became a mom looked differently than it does now. At first, I was discouraged by how little I was able to get done compared to my pre-baby days.
This feeling of discouragement was compounded by hearing about the goals of women who didn’t have children.
“Look at how much they’re able to accomplish!” I would think.
I asked myself over and over, “What is wrong with me? Why can I not get more done?!”
Hmmm… Maybe it has something to do with the sweet baby who depends on me for everything. And the fact that I’m still battling chronic illness…
Give yourself grace, Mama. It’s taken me a long time to figure out how to do that, and I’m still learning, but it makes life a whole lot sweeter.
Remember, goal setting in the midst of motherhood looks different. Our families require more of our time, so we should plan with that in mind.
Here are some ideas to help you set goals that you can actually achieve when you have your hands full.
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1. Use Your Word of the Year as a Springboard
Before I set any goals for January, I first decide on my word of the year. (If you’re not sure how to choose a word of the year that will make an impact on your life, check out my previous post!)
Next, I spend some time journaling about the word I chose and how it relates to my life.
I write about everything that comes to mind— what the previous year looked like, my hopes and dreams for the upcoming year, what kind of spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical shape I’m in and where I want to be, etc.
Using your word of the year as a springboard helps you to integrate your goals into your day-to-day life. This year my word is cultivate, and all of my goals are an outpouring of that word.
For example, one of my intentions for 2018 is to “cultivate the mind, body, and person of our little Jack.”
He’s a veritable sponge, learning new things every day! One of my goals this quarter is to teach him 8 words in sign language so that we can communicate more effectively during his second year.
Another of my intentions is to “cultivate my marriage”. My relationship with my husband is in a wonderful place, but I want to always be purposeful about pouring love into our marriage.
For that reason, one of my goals this quarter is to go through the book, The Love Dare. It’s a 40-day challenge designed to guide you toward a deeper relationship with your spouse. There are 40 mini chapters, each followed by dare (challenge) that prompts you to take action.
Because all of my goals are rooted in my word of the year, it helps me to remain focused and intentional.
2. Plan Quarterly
Have you ever been over-the-moon excited about your goals in January, only to have completely forgotten about them by March? Yeah, me too.
Planning quarterly is a strategy Benj and I are trying out for the first time this year. And even though we’re only a couple of weeks in, I can already see that it’s making an obvious difference! My motivation is higher, and my goals feel more attainable.
(I’ll write a follow-up post about this at the end of the first quarter!)
When you’re only setting goals for a 12-week time period, you’re less likely to put them off, they’re easier to break down into bite-sized pieces, and you stay motivated. Plus, it’s easier to hit the reset button and start fresh in the next quarter if you need to.
Here are the steps I’m taking to make it work for me…
First, I set some overarching, big yearly goals and intentions, rooted in my word of the year. I kept these simple and only set 1-2 per category (e.g. Faith, Marriage, Parenting, etc.).
For instance, my big yearly Faith goal is to “cultivate a vibrant prayer life and a deeper relationship with Christ.”
It’s specific and attainable, but it isn’t very actionable or measurable. That’s where my quarterly goals come into play. They give me action steps to take.
For the first quarter, I set two goals that will help me work toward my big yearly goal:
- Read Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full
- Study Learning Contentment with Mom
Benj and I also set a few intentions together to help support that goal and strengthen our faith:
- Keep an active prayer journal
- Pray over the day together each morning
- Spend every Lord’s Day to its fullest potential
These are all very doable.
Before each week begins (or a few weeks in advance), I map out what I need to do to stay on track.
For example: In Week 1, I read Chapters 1-3 of Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full and also bought a prayer journal.
It’s really that simple!
3. Set Realistic Goals
I once heard a piece of goal setting advice that stuck with me…
“After you finish setting your goals, cut them in half.”
It’s easy to be idealistic about what we’re able to accomplish. We set our goals in still, quiet moments, curled up with hot tea and a cozy blanket. Anything seems possible! “I can do ALL the things!”
Or is that just me?
By all means— dream big! Set your sights high! Just realize that it will probably take you longer to reach your big goals if you have little people you’re caring for.
4. Discover the Tools That Work For You
The right tools can help you track your progress and get stuff done! They won’t do the work for you, but they will make life easier.
Currently, I’m using the following combination and it’s working well for me:
I use Trello for my ongoing to-do list and for keeping track of my quarterly goals and intentions. I appreciate how easy it is to edit cards and move things around. It’s very customizable!
My husband introduced me to Trello almost 3 years ago when we were engaged, and I hated it! Now, after finding ways to make it work for me, I’m singing a different tune.
Plus, they now let you add amazing background images to your boards which makes the entire experience much more pleasant and inspiring! (Don’t laugh.)
Above is a screenshot of my Trello Board, Q1 Goals and Intentions.
The Day Designer
Last year, for the very first time, I stuck with a planner for the entire year! It was a weekly planner called Ink+Volt, and while I got a lot of use out of it, I found myself wishing I had more space for each day.
Enter: The The Day Designer daily planner. I am in love with this planner! I’ve only been using it for a couple of weeks, but I think it’s going to make a huge difference in my year.
If you want to see how their pages work, you can print out the daily layout for free!
Benj and I mainly use iCalendar to schedule appointments and events— everything from weddings and family nights to doctor’s appointments and grocery shopping days.
It’s convenient to have access to it on our phones and computers, and to both be able to see what we’ve got going on.
(*Note: I know that many people prefer Google Calendar, so check that app out, too.)
I use Pages for all kinds of things like goal setting, figuring out cleaning routines, and writing out comprehensive plans.
I also use it for journaling. As much as I love paper journals, I’m a very slow writer and I’d probably never journal if I was doing it by hand.
(*Note: Evernote is another great app to use.)
This is a technique that can be tricky to figure out when you’re a stay-at-home mom, but I’ve found that it gives our family life a lot of structure and predicability. It helps me not to feel frazzled, and instead adds a sense of calm to my life.
I could (and might) write an entire post about time blocking! It’s certainly a strategy worth looking into further.
Grace and Balance in Goal Setting as a Mom
Sometimes, big goals need to take a backseat until the right season comes along. And sometimes, living in survival mode is perfectly fine and nothing to feel ashamed of (hello, newborn and postpartum months)!
As moms, we go through far more seasons than we did before our kiddos came along! Morning sickness, sleepless nights, weaning, potty training, illness— they’re all seasons that will eventually pass, but turn our lives topsy-turvy for a little while.
We have to bear this in mind and be quick to give ourselves grace when our goals are put on hold.
Don’t be so frustrated by your changing seasons that you give into hopelessness and throw in the towel. And don’t be so bound and determined to accomplish your goals no matter the season that everyone around you suffers, including yourself.
Find the right balance for whatever season you find yourself in.
To be perfectly honest that’s easy to say, and very hard to do! I have the tendency to swing to one side or the other, but neither one is wise nor healthy.
Most of all, remember that the work you do everyday as a mama is important and meaningful. And even if nothing gets checked off your to-do list, you can still have a good day!
If you have any goal setting tips, please share them down in the comments below!