Step IV: Your Dream Ordinary
This is the fourth step in the Sustainable Goal-Setting Method, a subtractive as well as additive approach to goal-setting meant to help you simplify your schedule & to-do list by focusing on what matters most. This 5-step process is designed to empower you to choose a few meaningful goals that align with your values and integrate them into your real life.
If you are just jumping in here are the steps we've covered so far..
Sustainable Goal-Setting Step 5: Design you Dream Ordinary
We’ve talked about vision: how important it is to have a clear idea of who you want to be and why. And we’ve talked about setting meaningful, achievable goals that will actually help you take small steps to move in the direction of your vision. Now comes the time to put it all together and take it for a test drive. What would your week feel like if you actually did pull some weeds and make room for what matters most? Are the goals you set actually doable? Will you still have enough margin in your week for rest and spontaneity? This is a rough guide, a template for planning your typical week.
Step 1: Create a Framework for your week
Download and print this free “Design Your Dream Ordinary” week worksheet.
In Matt Perman's book What’s Best Next, he advises readers to plan a template for how most of their weeks will flow: he calls it “architecting your week.” One of my favorite insights from this section is his advice to think of your time as a physical container that can only hold a certain amount. When you think about your time spatially instead of linearly, it can help you resist the temptation to cram more in. As you go through these next steps, try blocking off general sections of your week dedicated to certain activities instead of trying to be exactly precise.
Use pencil. Erasing is a BIG part of this step.
Step 2: Fill in fixed commitments
When you plan a budget, the first step is to calculate your fixed expenses (rent, bills, transportation etc.); the same is true when you are budgeting your time. What elements of your week are non-negotiables? (your job, taking care of your kids, going to church, etc.) Go ahead and block off those windows of time.
Step 3: Include your goals
Look back over the plan you’ve made for each of your goals (those habits, rhythms and/or projects) and block off the time you’ve chosen to work on them. Even if it’s only five minutes each morning making your bed, write it down: it becomes more real. If one of your goals is a short-term project, go ahead and plan your week with it in mind. You can always make edits after you complete your project. You’ll be redesigning your dream ordinary every season as you set new goals, so this is your plan for the next three months, not forever.
Step 4: Include “Hell, yeah!’s” only
In Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he writes about the importance of putting first things first. He uses the analogy of putting rocks in a jar. If you start by putting your pebbles in first, you won’t have room to fit your large rocks; but if you put your big rocks in first, then you can drop the pebbles into the gaps and be able to fit more in. Covey insists that we must schedule time for our priorities, our big rocks, before we add any of the smaller things.
You’ve already included time to spend on your goals that connect with your ‘why;’ now, look back at your vision and intents and see if there are any other parts of your week you want to dedicate to your values: family time, helping others, taking care of your body etc.
The flip side of this is the hardest part: choosing what not to include. Think about all the other things you could do with your time (or are already involved in); try to include ONLY the few items that either 1) you will anticipate with pleasure, or 2) are really meaningful to you. In Essentialism, Greg Mckeown suggests giving all your choices a score 1-100 and then including only the ones you scored 90 or above: the “hell, yeahs!” Use this opportunity to see what your life would be like if you really didn't over commit or binge watch Netflix.
Step 5: Reflect and review
We’re all different. We have unique passions and gifts and struggles, and my dream ordinary week isn’t going to look like yours. It’s important to look over this template you’ve made and make sure it fits with your personality and your circumstances. Double check: do you have time for rest? For family? For friendship? For personal growth? For fun? For spontaneity? Remember, this is your dream ordinary week: make it good! And keep in mind that this is just a rough guide for you to proactively decide for yourself what an ideal week would look and feel like for you.
The truth is, real life doesn’t go according to plan, and sometimes we sleep in instead of working out; and that is okay. There is grace, and this plan is meant to inspire, not to frustrate and overwhelm.
Try this coming week to actually live the plan you made and see how you feel at the end of it. Make edits to your dream ordinary as you go, to make it work for you!
The last step in the Sustainable Goal-Setting series on maintaining your goals is up next->