Most of us set multiple goals each year. In the PowerSheets®, we encourage you to check in on each area of your life, and that can often lead to pursuing change in each area, too!
But even once you've broken each of your goals down into action items and habits, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed at all you want to accomplish. You want to change all the things right now! Or maybe you're just not sure what to do with all of those action items.
So how do you decide what to put on your Tending List, and when? And are you supposed to work on all of your goals at once?
Two important truths to ground us as we think about balancing progress across multiple goals:
1. We all have a finite amount of resources. Our resources include time, patience, willpower, focus, space, money, and more. Our resources also might change from season to season in our lives. For example, if you're engaged, the months leading up to your wedding might be more hectic than the months following it. If you're a teacher, you might be more available in the summer months.
2. We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a week, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. Remember: there are 12 months in a year to make progress! Pacing yourself and being realistic about how much you can accomplish in a given day, week, or month will help you keep moving forward and give you greater satisfaction along the way.
4 Tips for Balancing Multiple Goals
1. Start small. Pace yourself! When you're trying something brand new, start with tracking just 1-3 at a time in your Tending List: 1-3 NEW habits, 1-3 NEW weekly action items, and 1-3 NEW monthly action items. This will help eliminate overwhelm and ensure that anything new you're incorporating into your life has a chance to stick.
Of the three sections, you have the most wiggle room with monthly action items, but still -- if the goal is something you're less familiar or comfortable with, start small. Remember: you have 12 months to make progress!
2. To minimize overwhelm, stack your goals or habits. I was chatting with a gal the other day who had a laundry list of habits she wanted to implement in each area of her life. For example, she had broken her spiritual goal down into wanting to read the Bible daily, add three things to her gratitude list daily, and fill out her contentment journal daily. (And then similar lists for other goals!)
That’s really overwhelming! BUT, if, in this example, you think of stacking those three separate behaviors into one habit - daily quiet time - it not only looks and feels less overwhelming, but it gives you the grace to implement something new slowly. Simply getting familiar with the act of setting aside that time before you stress about what, exactly, goes into it is a great place to start. Getting into the rhythm is the biggest hurdle!
When you look at your goals and habits, where can you combine actions to minimize overwhelm and increase efficiency?
3. Emphasize different goals in different seasons. Trying to work on all of your goals with the same intensity all at once is a recipe for goal failure. No matter how much you break your goals down, they’ll still feel overwhelming if you try to tackle 3 action steps for 8 goals all at once! The path to lasting, sustainable change is embracing little-by-little progress over time - not all at once.
The truth is that unless your full-time job is self-improvement, there’s simply no way you’ll be able to make progress in every area at the same time. Instead, think of allocating your energy like you might your money in the debt snowball strategy, putting all of your extra resources towards 1-2 goals while you make "minimum payments" on the others. Once you've accomplished those goals, you can shift those resources to the next ones.
If you’re struggling with which goal to tackle first, go with whatever you’re most excited about! Enthusiasm is a great motivator :) Or, choose the one that's best for the season you’re in (literally or metaphorically), or whatever makes the most sense with the other constraints or freedoms in your life. (Maybe you’re sitting in a carpool line in Q1 that gives you time to work on a goal, or maybe your workload is much lighter in Q4, or maybe you know you’ll be on vacation several weeks in Q3!)
4. Use the resources in your PowerSheets. The Yearly Overview spread (pages 50-51 in the 2022 One-Year PowerSheets) is the perfect tool to help pace yourself. Use it to mark out which goals will be a priority in which seasons, and then add potential action steps, events, and habits if you’d like. And remember, you don’t have to have all the answers now: the Quarterly Refreshes are a perfect opportunity to evaluate the progress you’ve made, the resources you have, and what your next biggest priority is.
For more on balancing multiple goals and to hear examples from own 2022 PowerSheets, watch this short Tending List Tuesday video in Goal School!