Goal Setting

Several years ago, my husband (Gray), read an article that had shared research on the importance of writing your goals down. This specific study was on college graduations and their life goals. I cannot honestly remember the percentage (I believe it is in the 90% range), but the likelihood of these individuals reaching their goals was significantly increased if they wrote them out, versus just verbalizing them. 

Encoding

I am a nurse and love all things science, especially when it comes to our bodies. I recently came across an article written by Mark Murphy the founder of LeadershipIQ.com that Forbes magazine published. This article states that there is a term called encoding that happens in your body when you write something down. When you write something out, it is sent to your brain’s hippocampus, where it is analyzed, and a decision is made to store that information or discard it. Writing information out greatly increases the possibility of your brain storing the information. When we take the time to write out our goals, it is telling our brain that it is important, and we need to remember it. Almost like a reinforcement to help us fulfill it. [1]

When Gray and I gained this knowledge, we began to develop a habit of writing our goals out each year. We have a notebook that is set aside specifically for these said goals. As the years have passed, we have developed a system that works for us. 

Categories

We have broken down several categories that we set goals for each year. They are as follows: spiritual, educational, recreational, physical, mental, financial, and relational. For example, in our spiritual goals we may want to focus on praying more, incorporating fasting as a regular habit, or reading through the Bible. 

Our educational goals incorporate areas where we want to learn a new skill or increase our knowledge in a certain area. We may download an app and learn some Spanish, take a cooking class, or do our own study about a specific topic. 

Recreational goals will contain all our “fun” activities. We may want to take a trip, learn a new sport, complete a certain number of puzzles or crafts. Whatever it is that we deem as “fun” would fall into this category. Our physical goals may include working out three days a week, running a 5k, drinking more water or playing pickleball once a week. 

The mental category can overlap with the educational, but in this category, you want to stretch your mind. Do sudoku, crossword puzzles and other things that have been proven to increase your mental IQ or maybe make an appointment with a Christian counselor. 

Financial goals could include paying off a certain bill this year, limiting your coffee drive-thru purchases or saving enough money for that big trip you want to take. One of our favorite categories is relational. This is where we make sure we are accountable to the right people, and we are pouring into others. This is also where we might decide to attend a marriage conference or retreat. 

Specifics

These are all general examples, but make sure your goals are specific. Instead of making a note that “drinking more water” is a goal, be specific and state “drink 32 ounces every day”. This is what is known as a smart goal. Smart is an acronym to help us remember to make specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. Using these parameters will help ensure the likelihood of us completing them. As you set these goals you will be working on them together. [2] Some goals will apply to the individual and others will pertain to the couple. In working on this together we are adding a team member to help hold us accountable and to cheer us on. 

Scripture

There are two scriptures that come to mind when I think of setting goals. One is Ecclesiastes 4:9-10(NIV) “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one.” The other passage is 1 Corinthians 9:26 (NIV) “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” Without a target (or goal), we live our lives aimlessly. We have nothing to shoot for. In marriage, as a couple, we are on the same team. Our team needs a playbook in order to reach our fullest potential. 

I would challenge you to give this a try. Gray and I generally revisit our goals in July to analyze how well, or how not so well we are doing. So, this is a great month to take the time and set some goals. If you haven’t been through our course of “Two Becoming One” make sure to add that to your relational goals. We would love to assist you with bringing that into your church in a small group setting. 

Unity

Before I conclude this blog, I want to make sure that you understand that setting goals is a great way to enhance unity within your marriage. But we all know that life happens and sometimes life events change the course we originally had planned, so give grace to one another, always. I heard a saying many years ago that I do my best to live by, “Write your plans in pencil and give God the eraser.” Now get with your spouse, grab a pencil and set some goals!

[1] “Neuroscience Explains Why You Need To Write Down Your Goals If You Actually Want To Achieve Them.” Forbes, 15, April, 2018, 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markmurphy/2018/04/15/neuroscience-explains-why-you-need-to-write-down-your-goals-if-you-actually-want-to-achieve-them/?sh=7c40ae427905

[2]” How to write SMART goals.” Worklife, 26, December, 2021,

https://www.atlassian.com/blog/productivity/how-to-write-smart-goals

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