Energize Your Life and Money with Goals

March 23, 2022

A few months back, 2 friends and I spun up a good old-fashioned goal contest to keep ourselves motivated on good habits. On second thought, it’s not actually really a contest, since there is no prize and we’re not competing against each other. But “goal program” just sounds boring and this is the opposite of that.

At the start of a week, we each pick two goals to do 5 days a week. If it’s an exercise goal, we give ourselves six days to accomplish it, but anything else is a Monday-Friday goal with no “grace day.” We’re ruthless like that. No sick days or vacation days. 

Some of our goals are around bedtimes, wake-up times, leaving-the-house times, social media consumption, journaling, prioritizing scripture reading. The ability to change the goals from week to week is just magical.

So we each pick two goals each week. Each goal is worth $5/day, and if you miss a day, you pay the $5 to the other two in a timely manner. For example, if I sleep in and am not up by 6:00am, I pay Jenn $2.50 and Elaina $2.50. Venmo probably wonders what the heck is going on with our payments of $2.50 but they haven’t said anything yet, so we’ll continue. They’ve probably got bigger fish to fry.

Anyway, last week I carried over my goal of exercising at least 40 minutes per day. But, I added a caveat. I specified that on 3 of those days I needed to—within 40 minutes—complete a 5k. Sounds easy, huh? 

Well, not so much considering I haven’t run in months, and that I didn’t actually know what accomplishing it would require. I’m like the poster child for how to set goals (not).

Day 1

Last Monday I entered the gym with high hopes that bumping up my treadmill walking speed from “vigorous” to “more vigorous” would do it. At about 30 minutes I realized such was not going to be the case and started running. And still missed my goal.

But, I learned what I needed to change. And that’s huge! Getting more information and learning what to change has some serious merit. I now knew I really needed to bump it up.

Day 2

I added running in much earlier. I kept the walking pace way up. Ran some more. And barely made it. But I did indeed make it! Super pumped about that!

Day 3

Started running even sooner in my 40 minute window. And added more running windows. I made it again.

Day 4

You guessed it—I made it. And in even finer form. Or at least with more confidence that I was going to make it after all. I tweaked the above enhancements even more, pacing myself against milestones even more intentionally. 

The Wonder of Goals

Let’s talk about goals, shall we? There are a lot of other things we could talk about, like the fact that if you’re going to make a pie belatedly for Pi Day you should have a plan for what to do with the pie besides eating the whole thing. I didn’t, for the record. I’m seeing how well homemade French Silk Pie freezes and will be sure to report back with my findings.

Anyway, back to goals. The thing about goals is, if you never set them, you never hit them. I know, profound. But it really kind of is! 

If you never set goals, you also never intentionally achieve them, which means you also never get the euphoric feeling of pushing yourself to complete something that matters to you. You might be doing wonderful things, but because you didn’t quantify any of them as a goal, you can never pat yourself on the back for pushing yourself to accomplish them.

Enter: Money Goals

I wasn’t planning to weave money and budgeting into this post—honest!—but important similarities strike me and so I’ll weave away. I can’t help but see how budgeting is a lot like setting a bunch of little, totally manageable goals for all your money. 

When you allocate all your money into various categories, it’s a bit or a lot like saying “I have a goal to spend less than $80 on Gardening Stuff*, less than $400 on Food, less than $100 on Gifts, etc.” 

When you then keep your spending within your goal amounts, you honestly get a little hit of satisfaction; having any amount of money left in a category when you get paid again and replenish categories is super sweet. 

Everyone Gets A Goal!

But there are so many areas of life that can be improved by goal-setting. And no area of life that can’t be sweetened with at least the occasional goal to achieve. Finishing reading a book by a certain date and figuring out the page count to get there. Hours spent practicing a song on the piano. Minutes spent exercising. Marketing emails to send per week. Conversations to start with strangers. The list goes on and on. 

What do you want to work on? Where could you use a little push? If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed or understandably concerned about world affairs, my two cents of unsolicited advice is to give yourself something to aim toward and achieve. You might just be overdue for the lots of satisfaction you’ll find along the way. 

*How’s my garden, you ask? I don’t actually garden, but love the idea of it. I’m too busy making pies that are way more butter and sugar than a human should try to consume on their own.

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