Goal Setting for Real Progress

New year, new you, right? We’ve all made New Year’s resolutions filled with lofty aspirations, only to find ourselves feeling defeated by February. You’re not alone. Setting goals that are too ambitious often leads to disappointment and discouragement, leaving us hesitant to even try again. Most of it is bull crap. If you’re nodding in understanding, then join the club.

The problem, often, lies in our approach to goal setting. We aim for the stars, only to land in mediocrity, or worse, give up altogether. It’s time to break the cycle of unrealistic expectations and set goals that are more realistic, sustainable, and lead to actual progress rather than disappointment.

Be Realistic

Remember Henry Ford’s words, “Fail to plan. Plan to fail.” Setting goals that are wildly out of reach is a recipe for discouragement. Instead, focus on incremental steps, small victories that build momentum and keep you motivated. Want to run a marathon? Start with a walk around the block. Aiming for a promotion? Focus on exceeding expectations in your current role. Remember, progress, not perfection, is the key.

Activity Based Goals vs. Outcome Based

Often, we get caught up in desired outcomes, “I want to lose 10 pounds,” or “I want a corner office.” But focusing solely on outcomes can leave us feeling directionless. Instead, shift your focus to activity-based goals. “I will walk 3 times a week,” or “I will take one online course relevant to my career goals.” Activity-based goals define the steps you’ll take, making the journey itself the focus, not just the distant finish line. This shift in perspective keeps you engaged and motivated, celebrating each step towards your ultimate goal.

Leave Room for the Unexpected

Life is a messy, unpredictable thing. Clogging your schedule with to-dos and commitments leaves no space for the unexpected, the spontaneous adventures, the moments of connection that make life truly meaningful. Schedule some buffer time, some white space in your calendar where the unexpected can unfold. Remember, sometimes the most valuable goals are the ones that emerge organically from the space we create for them. Meaningful conversations with loved ones and adapting to life’s curveballs are just as important as achieving your goals

Include Fun Goals

Let’s face it, all work and no play makes for a pretty dull year. Make sure your goal list isn’t solely composed of career aspirations and fitness routines. Include fun! Plan a weekend getaway with friends, learn a new hobby, join a book club. Prioritize activities that bring you joy and connect you with the people you love. Including these in your goals and plans will prevent burnout and keep you energized for the long haul.


Goal setting isn’t about reaching some impossible ideal. It’s about creating a roadmap for progress, a framework for intentional living. By setting realistic, activity-based goals, leaving room for the unexpected, and making sure to include some fun, you’ll be setting yourself up for a year of meaningful growth, not just empty promises. So, grab your notebook, ditch the pressure, and get excited about the journey of setting goals for real progress. Remember, the best goals are the ones that make you feel alive, not just exhausted. Happy goal setting!

New Year 2016


It’s a new year. Actually we’re 14 days into it already. Two weeks out of 52 are complete, and if you’re like me you still feel in some ways like you’re not yet fully recovered from the holidays. Time flies, the great equalizer of all mankind.

Two weeks ago we had all these plans of things we were going to accomplish for the year. Two weeks ago we had all these goals and milestones set, narrowing our objectives down to very specific daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly activities that should get us to where we want to be by the end of the year.

How are we doing? How’s that workout plan going? How’s that budget going? How’s that time management plan going? How are we doing staying on top of all those tasks we set out so vigorously to maintain no matter what this year?

It’s tough! Sometimes it sucks. There are so many distractions and obstacles to overcome in the journey of becoming and accomplishing. Sometimes we have to stop and reevaluate. What is the purpose of this thing I’m doing? Is my plan really reasonable? Is my motive really God centered? Did I even really seek His will about it – what He wants me to become or whether He wants me to accomplish this or that, or by when?

Two weeks in is not too late to take some time to reevaluate, recalibrate, and rejuvenate. What are some things you really need to stop doing, or trying to do? What are some things you really need to start doing, or do them better? What are the things you’re doing to keep your motivation high, your focus narrow, and your actions precise and effective?

We’ve all heard these things before, but somehow we inevitably lose varying portions of the control we set out to have. We have to set time-bound goals, but who are we to put time limits on God’s plans? A great friend of mine once taught me when I was going through a difficult time to turn my frustration in to focus on what God is teaching me and how He is molding me and preparing me for the plans He has for me. That friend taught me to not be discouraged by what has happened in the past or what feels painful in the present, and to embrace the journey of becoming – balancing persistence and patience.

I feel like I’m adopting that mentality a little better all the time, and it certainly makes me see things differently when circumstances aren’t going my way. I believe the future is bright, and regardless of whether or not I perceive otherwise in moments of weakness, I’m counting it all joy knowing that faith produces patience (James 1:2-4).

These are all the things I’m thinking about for myself. It’s time to do a better job strategizing, prioritizing, and initializing. This life is too short not to. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).

Comfort Zone

When we first get fired up about doing well with our finances or our marriage or any other area of our life we are willing to do crazy stuff to make it happen.  We are willing to really stretch our comfort zone.  We will go to counseling, do crazy stuff to save or earn money, eat like a rabbit to lose weight and do crazy exercises to get fit.

The problem with comfort zones is they shrink back to the old ways if we don’t continue to set new goals and do the crazy stuff it takes to reach them.  Before we know it we’re eating our savings again, we’re not communicating well in our marriage, and we’re not making it to the gym nearly as often.  The habits have drifted back towards where we started.

Goals and accountability make the difference – written goals that are in front of us somewhere so we see them all the time, and someone to nudge us to say, “How are you doing reaching that goal?”.  Sometimes the accountability is a spouse but sometimes it’s better for there to be some outside accountability as well.

I’m planning to start being more transparent with my goals on this site.  I’ve seen how my friend Joe has done it with his house payoff goal, and how the guy at MyMoneyBlog has done it to build net worth.  There are some things that are not even financial that I have ways to track and measure that maybe I should be more transparent about and that stuff will start showing up on here.

What are some things you could start doing and tracking to get out of your comfort zone and work harder towards your goals?

Be Careful When You Cheat

It’s not what you think.  The context I’m talking about “cheating” in is not one we normally think of.  I’m not referring to cheating on a relationship, in a game, or ay other type of contest.  I’m talking about cheating on plans.

How’s that diet and exercise plan going right now?  How’s that spend more time doing things you love plan going?  How’s that financial plan going?  Have you cheated on any of these lately?  It’s ok – really!  I’m not beating anyone up for cheating.  I can cheat on diet and exercise with the best of them (not to mention other things).  But the problem we all have to be careful of is cheating on plans without planning to compensate.

For example – ideally if I eat something that wasn’t part of my diet plan I’ll add something to the exercise plan to compensate for it.  When I use my time for something other than I planned to use it for ideally I can make up that time somewhere else so that I still accomplish the things important to me.  When we cheat on our budget and use funds intended for one category for another category, we should make up for that in another category.

It’s no secret that most people lack the discipline to stick to every plan perfectly.  Our minds change.  We lose focus.  Our motivation wavers in moments of weakness.  But we must accept that when we don’t follow the plan something is going to compensate whether we want it to or not.  If I blow up the diet I’m going to have to exercise more or fall short of the fitness goal I want to accomplish (or let it take more time).  If I skip quality time with my family I have to make time available to replace that or miss out on those moments forever.  If I spend money on eating out that wasn’t in the plan I won’t have as much money as I wanted to have for vacation (or it will take longer to save it).

The common denominator in any of those scenarios is time – the great equalizer.  All plans require time.  We can either stick to the plan, compensate, or accept that the goal will take more time.  The easiest option is to avoid the discipline of sticking to a plan and simply accept that reaching goals will take more time.  Why rush goals when I can eat what I want now, make urgent what seems urgent now, and buy whatever I want now?  Just accepting that goals will take more time enables us to cheat on plans without compensating.  It enables us to lack discipline.

It is the lack of discipline to stick to plans or compensate and adjust to changed plans appropriately that makes so many people fall short of their hopes, plans and dreams.  A little cheat here and a little cheat there never hurt anybody…until it adds up over time into a mountain of lost opportunities.  So be careful when you cheat – it could cost you something you can’t get back, time.

New Year’s Fitness Goal

In Ephesians 5 wives are commanded to respect their husbands and husbands are commanded to love their wives…. as their own bodies… as he loves himself.  What does loving as yourself, as your own body, really look like in today’s culture?

There is a common corny joke about anytime two guys are in the woods and see a bear they don’t have to out-run the bear, they just have to outrun their friend.  If it was a man and his wife the man should run WITH his wife, loving her survival as much as his own.  That’s why it always happens that way in action movies too.

Another way husbands should look at the “as you love yourself” is to actually TAKE CARE of yourself – as in exercise, maintain some level of health.  Loving our wives “as ourselves” isn’t saying much if we’re not taking care of ourself.

I feel like I’m in this boat right now.  I ate A LOT over the holidays, didn’t exercise for the past couple of months, and put on probably 15 lbs.  It’s time to get back in a healthy routine.  Does this sound like a new years resolution?  Whatever you want to call it.  I’ve gotta get re-focused on my health.

Men, every time we feel like being lazy and not exercising to take care of ourself we should think of it as loving our wife less because we’re loving ourself less.

My goal for this year is to lose 25 lbs and keep it off through the holidays.  What is your fitness goal for 2012?


Thanksgiving 2011

Other than the most important thanks I give every year for God’s mercy, My Wife, Family, Friends, Health, and Wealth, here are some particular financial-related things I’m thankful for this this year at Thanksgiving:

  • We got debt free this year (except for the house)
  • Savings in the bank
  • Promise – that God will provide
What do you have to be thankful for?

Greenville Mud Run and Some Life Lessons

Several weeks ago I had the privilege of torturing myself through a 3.5 mile and 35 obstacle US Marine style course called the Goodwill Mud Run.  It was a blast considering the cuts and pains, the fact that I was not in shape for it, and the mud in places I didn’t know mud could go.

As I look back on that experience I’m reminded of a few financial relationship principles we need to keep in mind:

Sometimes It Ain’t Pretty

The crazy thing for me about the mud run is the obstacles weren’t the hard part.  I was fine as long as we were on an obstacle.  I can push right through that sort of exertion.  It wasn’t the cuts and pains or even the mud that made it difficult for me (although I did get about a gallon of it in my mouth on the very first mud-hole).  Where I struggled the most was during the running from one obstacle to the next.

I hate running for the sake of running, so I just don’t do it enough.  There’s really only two things that effectively motivate me to run – Shawna (when she is running), and playing ball (usually basketball).  When it comes to the constant and steady pounding of the leg muscles for running long distance, I suck.

Needless to say running 3.5 miles with zero training before the event was not pretty for me.  It didn’t matter that I had mud in my bleeding cuts and every time I spit there was as much mud as saliva.  I felt like my lungs were refusing to absorb oxygen in protest of what I was putting my body through.  My chest had that awful cold feeling you get after running hard in cool weather for about four days after the event.  It was terrible.

Sometimes working through life’s challenges is going to be ugly and we’re going to have to do things we don’t like to do because it is necessary to reach the goal.

Finishing The Race Eventually is Better Than Not Finishing At All

The Mud Run is very much like a Marine training course.  They even have real Marines in uniform out there yelling at you all through the course.  I don’t know the background on the Mud Run, but I guess in the spirit of the Marine way you don’t run this race as individuals – you do it in teams.

My team was awesome.  I was not.  My friend organized the team and must have either thought I was in better shape or he wanted to get me in better shape – all at once.

I was the slowest runner on the team.  What little ground I was able to make up by going through the obstacles faster than my teammates was quickly lost by running so much slower than them from one obstacle to the next.  I tried my best to keep up but about halfway through I realized if I didn’t slow down to a pace I could sustain my legs might give out, I might hurl, or worse (my family has history of heart issues and I already have the cholesterol).

It didn’t feel good knowing that I couldn’t get there faster.  I could have pushed it and might have been fine, but I had reached a level of pain that was as far as I wanted to go.  It felt like as much as I could bear at the time.

Sometimes we need to push ourselves harder, but sometimes we need to accept that reaching a goal is going to take longer than we want it to.  It’s better to get there eventually than to not get there at all.

Finish The Race Together

My three teammates knew we had to finish the race together, and they were very good sportsman to me – the team anchor (not in the good sense – like I was an anchor they were having to drag 🙂 ).  They challenged me to push myself and they encouraged me to keep going.  That helped me more than they know.  If it wasn’t for them I might still be out there meandering my way through the course and asking myself “Why am I doing this?”.

Surprisingly enough my friend who invited me to be on the team asked me to do it again in the Spring.  That is either true muv (man-love) or he doesn’t know anyone else dumb enough to say yes.  I accepted the challenge and promised I will be in better shape for it next time (maybe a lighter anchor).

It matters that we have accountability in our lives.  It matters that we have support around us.  It matters for whatever goal is in front of you now and whatever the next goal is after that.

Work through the ugly stuff, make steady progress toward the eventual goal, and finish together.

Question:  Have you ever participated in a mud run or other race and had a similar experience as me?  Will you hold me accountable to getting in better shape for next time?

Basketball Love – Discipline Trickery

I love basketball. It’s what gets me out of bed and to the gym in the morning, which is the only time of day I can consistently get exercise without stressing about work or family time. When it comes to getting up early in the morning I’ve tried everything I know to try. Shawna isn’t a morning person. Friends schedules conflict so they can’t be there consistently.  But there is one thing I can count on – 99% of the time at least one other dude who loves basketball as much as me will be in the gym at 6:00 shooting hoops, and sometimes we even have 6-10 of us so we can play a couple of games.

Basketball is the ONLY thing that has ever consistently gotten me out of bed in the morning to go to the gym, and it works out great. I can show up at 6:00, play ball for 30 minutes, and then do some other cardio or resistance exercise for 30-45 more minutes. It gets me up and going, it’s something I enjoy, and it helps me be fit and healthy. I’m basically tricking myself into having a healthy discipline of regular exercise because something I enjoy motivates me.

Don’t we all need something like that in our life? Maybe you’re like me and you need something you love to encourage physical fitness in your life. What is one thing you enjoy so much that it gets you up and going in the morning?

The same principle is true with regards to financial discipline.  It isn’t fun having to budget and being disciplined to follow it.  That is why we say there must be fun in the budget.  There must be things in the budget that are enjoyable for you so that you have something to look forward to that motivates you to have the discipline to do the rest.  What is the fun thing in your budget that motivates you to stick to the plan?


Lesson From the Biggest Loser About Saying No

Shawna and I like to watch the Biggest Loser.  It has something to do with life change and we all somewhere inside want to be healthier people no matter what our weight.  I heard an interesting comment on the show the other week that caught my attention.

One of the contestants said something like “Saying no to junk food is saying yes to myself” and they were referring to the positive health benefit.  It struck me as a very strong statement.  Think about that for a minute and consider all the things we could put in that sentence in the place of junk food.

  • Saying no to the brand new car, or house, or boat, or whatever THING is saying yes to my future financial position.
  • Saying no to watching 4 hours of TV per night is saying yes to more quality family time.
  • Saying no to porn or facebook is saying yes to relationship with spouse.
  • Saying no to “me time” is saying yes to having time for God.

Anything you put in the place of the no and yes position is ultimately a benefit to you.  It is a discipline issue.

What other ways can you think of to make a no a yes for our own good?

Friends – Don’t Hurt Each Other…At Least Not On Purpose

Yesterday I think I nearly broke my friends ribs.  We were playing basketball at the end of our workout (something we do all the time).  As we both went for a loose ball I somehow went under his arm from behind and drilled him in the rib cage with my shoulder.  

He went down immediately – moaning and groaning about his ribs and he think they cracked.  He was feeling it the rest of the day but kept acting like he was fine.  I feel horrible about it.  He is planning on running a 10k next week and that accident will probably cause him more pain during the race than he would have had otherwise.  

I didn’t mean to do it.  It was an accident.  But I can’t take it back.  The damage is done.  In this case it physical damage.  But isn’t it true that sometimes we hurt our friends emotionally or they hurt us emotionally?  I’ve hurt friends feelings before just by having other friends.  That was totally unintentional.  I’ve also hurt friends’ feelings by backing out on commitments I made to do something with them.  That is the emotional equivalent of walking up to my friend and physically punching him in the face while we were playing basketball.  

We all make mistakes though – right?  The important thing is to learn from them and change the behavior moving forward.  The strongest friendships survive the mistakes along the way.