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Entries in Goals (15)


Back to the Future: Retreat to Plan the New Year

Kathy Carlton Willis is an encourager to the max! She knows how to motivate women to upgrade their lives. In this New Year’s UPGRADE, she suggests we all go on a “retreat.”

Kathy told me, “As a career coach I often hear the excuse, ‘I’m just too busy.’ I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it. Each person is given the same number of hours in the day.”

I (Dawn) do think there is a “too busy” level for all of us, but I’ve discovered better planning, delegating, and eliminating the non-essential and what God says “has to go” suddenly can free up a lot of time I didn’t know I had! So I am shouting a hearty “Amen” to Kathy’s words.

Kathy continues. . .

Sure, we all have different energy levels and abilities, but I’m positive we have exactly the resources we need to fulfill the purposes God has for each of us.

The next time you’re tempted to offer up the excuse, “I’m just too busy,” instead I challenge you to say what is the real reason: “It’s simply not a priority for me.”

We get to choose what is important in our lives.

One way I adjust my priorities is to have a yearly personal retreat, either at home or a remote location.

A familiar Psalm indicates what happens during a personal retreat.

“He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He  refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23: 2-3 AMP).

Here are some pointers for your retreat:

1. Start and end with God.

Put your agenda aside. Focus on His strengths and skills. Fall in love with Him again. Be wowed by His power and wisdom. Worship Him, not for what He has done for you, but for who He is.

If you find your mind trailing off, use the alphabet to stay fixed on Him. Come up with a word that describes God from every letter in the alphabet.

2. Use a variety of worship techniques.

  • Walk with Him in nature.
  • Take photos of His creation.
  • Sing along to praise music.
  • Dance to the tune.
  • Draw.
  • Invent your own sign-language to symbolize the lyrics.
  • Personalize Scripture.

3. Get filled up.

Surrender your life to God again. 100% God and 0% you.

Once you are filled up and yielded, then you are ready to proceed.

4. Evaluate the year just ending.

  • What surprised you?
  • What exceeded your goals?
  • What derailed or disappointed you?
  • What is still left undone?
  • What desires and direction did God plant in you that indicates the New Year will look different?
  • What was within your control to do that you procrastinated?
  • What was not within your power that changed your plans?

Give the old year to God. Leave it behind without regrets as you move into the New Year.

Clean slate: either a second chance to get your current goals accomplished or brand new goals for a brand new year.

5. Ask God to show you His plans for your New Year.

Don’t merely ask Him to bless your agenda.

Be willing to follow God’s lead wherever it takes you—out of your comfort zone and into the faith-zone.

People ask my secret to getting so much done, and goal-setting is the root of my productivity. It’s not about success as the world sees it, or achievement. I’m focused on being and doing everything God has designed for my life.

Here’s a sample template for my goal-setting session. It varies depending on the year, so feel free to alter it to fit your needs.

  • My spiritual growth goals for 2017 include:
  • My mental/emotional growth goals for 2017 include:
  • My physical goals for 2017 include:
  • I will use my ability of ______ by doing:
  • I will work on a relationship with:
  • Finances will improve when:
  • I will read ___ books.
  • To be healthier, I will:
  • I have a problem procrastinating. This year I will improve in the area of:

Fill out your goal worksheet, then sign it as an indication you will give 100% to God’s agenda.

Does God have a surprise for you in the New Year? Put on your eyes of faith so you can see it when it arrives.

Kathy Carlton Willis shines for God, reflecting His light as a speaker at writer's conferences and women's retreats, and as an author - contributing to three books and writing hundreds of columns and articles online and in print publications. She wrote Grin with Gracewith AMG Publishers and has several books releasing over the next few years. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of depaulus, Pixabay


8 Questions to Ask Before You Take on a New Task

All of us have to decide whether to take on more work, a new job, more responsibilities. In this Time Management UPGRADE by Dawn Wilson, we'll just call it a "new task."

Women are expected to be good multi-taskers, but we have to know our limits. And we can't compare our limits with others' limits!

Sometimes new tasks are blessings in disguise, and I'm glad I said "yes." Other times, new tasks take me over the top and I ask, "Why, oh why, did I agree to this?"

I used to struggle when I had to decide whether to take on a new task. Whenever I was faced with this kind of decision, I immediately thought:

  • Will this get overwhelming?
  • What does God think about this?
  • What would Bob (my husband) say?
  • Will this crowd out things I already think are important?
  • Would someone else have more time or be better equipped?
  • Would this be an opportunity I can't afford to miss—something I'd regret if I said "no"?

Every time I asked those questions, I had to ramp down strong emotions connected with them.

It's just the way I am. I tend to start hyperventilating—long childhood story I'll skip here—but the bottom line is, I don't want to be overwhelmed with responsibilities.

But actually, those immediate questions I had can be helpful if I'm driven to examine them before the Lord and with godly counsel from others. And I have to keep in mind: we're all different.  

We have different personalities and skill sets, and we tend to handle work loads in different ways.

What God asks/allows Suzy-Q to do may be totally different from what He asks/allows me to do. What might be a headache for her might be a total joy for me. Or vice versa!

Most of us are content with Plan A until Plan B comes along. Then we wonder if we should move to Plan B. Or choose Plan C — or a fresh combination of A and B.

So how do we determine whether to take on a new task?

I think there are some important questions to ask:

1. Have you seriously prayed about the new task?

James 1:5 says we can ask for direction from God. He delights in giving us His wisdom.

It helps to spread the matter before the Lord. We seek Him not only because we want His will and He knows what is best for us, but also because we need to hear ourselves "discussing" the task with Him. Sometimes when we "talk through" the issue, we hear the answer!

It also helps to lay out the pros and cons before the Lord. That doesn't mean He won't lead you to say "yes" even if there are some cons, but you need to see both sides clearly.

2. What do you think God is saying?

Is there any scriptural counsel? Is there something you need to study out before making the decision?

Proverbs 2:6 says, "For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding" God's Word can give fresh insights.

Once when I wasn't sure about a choice, I ended up studying the topic of "time management." Another time, I studied "patience."

3. How does this new task fit in with your roles in life?

What are your God-given roles? Are you a wife? Mom? Are you single? Each of these roles have built-in limitations ... and wonderful opportunities.

And what are your functional responsibilities? These will differ from woman to woman:  employee, employer, homemaker, caretaking daughter, older woman providing child care, Bible study leader, writer/speaker, etc.

4. If married, what is is your spouse's input about this new task?

How does your spouse think this new task will impact your home? If your partner is a Christ-follower, ask for prayer and specific input. If your partner isn't a believer, ask and listen anyway. Sometimes God gives unbelievers practical wisdom, especially the husband who takes his leadership seriously.

Note: If you are unmarried and/or work in an office, can you seek an employer's, co-worker's or friend's counsel?

5. How does this new task align with your personal goals?

Does it get you closer to your goals or further away? Do you need to step outside your comfort zone? Is there a new skill set you need to learn that might make this otherwise "iffy" task more attractive?

If not, are you willing to work for the required time in a task that has no other purpose than income? (But income might be an important issue!)

6. How does this fit into your priorities for the home?

Your home is important for many purposes: relationships, hospitality, ministry, as a practical picture of God or His provision to others, etc. Will this new task help with that?

Note: If you're working outside the home, how does the new task fit into the original job you were hired to do?

7. Do you need to let something else go in order to begin this task?

Would it be possible to delegate some things to create space for the new task?

8. Would you be able to keep your life in balance after taking on this task?

The quickest way to burnout is a life out of balance.

Think about a "task" decision you need to make and apply these questions. Seek wisdom for your choices with the goal of honoring God in all things (1 Corinthians 10:31; Romans 11:36), and ask clarifying questions.

Which of these questions helps you most in deciding whether to take on a new task?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Ministries, is the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is the Director of the San Diego chapter of Network of Evangelical Women in MInistry (NEWIM San Diego). Dawn is the co-author of LOL with God and contributed "The Blessing Basket" in It's a God Thing. She and her husband Bob have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic Adapted, Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


Resolutions, Goals and a Bucket List

Ready for the New Year? I always appreciate those who help us forget those things that are behind and push forward to greater things. Marcia Ramsland is one of those people, and I asked her to share this special New Year's UPGRADE.

"January 1 is the day to write a resolution or two," Marcia says. "If you’re not living the life you love or at least enjoying each day, then perhaps it’s because you don’t know what you want, you know what it is but haven’t worked to get it, or you’ve let life get in your way."

Last year, I [Dawn] picked a special word that motivated me all year long, but I have to admit, my office fell apart last year. Picking one motivating word has nothing to do with organizing your life (unless, perhaps, the word is "organization!") So I'm looking for tips from people like Marcia to help me get back on track!

Marcia continues . . .

Here are three ways to change that while you are poised at the beginning of the new year. Pick One Style for a New Year, New You!

1. A Resolution

A New Year's resolution is a January 1 personal commitment for the coming year to change a habit or lifestyle for the better, such as the two most popular ones, to lose weight and get organized!

2. A Goal

A goal is a dream with a plan attached, and is best achieved if there is a positive emotional response to its success, such as moving to a warm climate, redecorating at home, or doubling your income. Jot them on your new monthly calendar.

3. A Bucket List

A Bucket List is a wish list of things you’d like to do in your lifetime that captures your imaginationsuch as climbing Mt. Everest, running a marathon or writing a book. Fill your bucket list with 5-10 things you’ve only dreamed about.

What would it take for a “New Year, New You” lifestyle makeover?

Here is a list of 15 ideas to stimulate your thinking. Write your own list of eight to ten goals you would like to have or do in the coming new year. Think big!

  • Prioritize my life and say “no” with confidence.
  • Find a regular exercise program I like.
  • Eat healthier every meal.
  • Get to bed by 10:30 p.m.
  • Reorganize and upgrade my office.
  • Create a budget and save for my dream car.
  • Plan one enjoyable activity per 52 weekends.
  • Trade childcare for more personal time.
  • Get together monthly with a good friend.
  • Become team manager for your son’s sports team.
  • Go on my bucket list dream vacation.
  • Call parents/grandparents once a week.
  • Send out birthday cards (or birthday emails) on time.
  • Join a new business group.
  • Wrap up leadership responsibility in current organization.
  • Complete a degree over the next three years.

I know this setting goals works for two reasons:

1) Proverbs 13:4 says, “The sluggard (sluggish) craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”

Practically, that means if we steadily work toward a goal, we will get there. Also, if we just set the goal, we won’t get there.

2) I coach women via Face Time, email, and photos to achieve anything from writing a book, or organizing their paperwork, closet, garage or officein 30 days or less! Things they never thought they could do!

When they know I do three-month, six-month, and one-year checkups, they achieve their new, organized lifestyleand maintain it. It works and you can see the “Before and After” photos yourself here

What works best for you: resolutions, goals, a bucket list or something else? What motivates you?

NOTE: This post is an adapted excerpt from Marcia's book, Simplify Your Holiday Season.

Marcia Ramsland is well known as the "Organizing Pro,” a national speaker, and author of over 100,000 books sold in her Simplify Your Life series. Marcia personally coaches individuals and organizations to be highly productive in managing their time, space, and life. Hundreds of clients and audiences from New York to California agree with her belief that anyone can become more organized - even YOU! Contact her at

New Year Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of noppasinw at


Ask Your Children Big-Picture Questions

As a special Father’s Day post and to help us Upgrade our parenting and/or ministry to children, I asked my friend, Nancy Leigh DeMoss of Revive Our Hearts ministry to share with us. So much of her life was shaped by the life example of her parents—especially her father. She often talks and writes about him. In 2013, Nancy wrote about a question her dad asked that helped her shape her life and ministry. *

“The scene is indelibly etched in my memory,” Nancy wrote. “I was 19 years old. My family was on a mission trip in Haiti—my parents’ (and my) favorite type of family 'vacation.'”

Reader, does this give you some insight into the type of family Nancy grew up in? This vacation is only a slice of the big picture of life and ministry her parents embraced.

Nancy continues ...

We were worshiping in a small Haitian church, sitting on hard wood benches. In the middle of the service, my dad leaned over to me and whispered,

“Honey, what are your 50-year goals?”

Now, I’ll confess I hadn’t given a lot of thought to my 50-year goals, prior to that moment. But over the next weeks, I set out to respond to his question. Of course, I didn’t know things like whether I would be married or single or what my specific ministry path would look like. But I tried to record what I wanted to be true of my life in 50 years—by the time I was 69—if the Lord was pleased to give me that many years.

Periodically I’ve gone back and reviewed the document that resulted from that exercise more than 35 years ago. It has proved to be a valuable reminder to be intentional, stay the course, and focus on the things that matter most.

While I would no doubt craft these goals a bit differently today, these are the same basic categories that I still believe are important. Even this week, in re-reading this list, I’ve been challenged to recalibrate my thinking in one particular area.

As a teen sitting in that Haitian church, 50 years seemed like an eternity away. I could not have imagined how quickly those years would pass—or how easy it would be to fritter away days, months, years—a lifetime.

Today, with less than 15 years left till I turn 69, I wish I were a whole lot further along toward these goals. I haven’t even come close to attaining all of them. But I’m confident I have grown more in these areas than I might have if it hadn’t been for my dad’s question. So for challenging me to this exercise—and for so much more—thank you, Dad!

I believe there is value in doing this kind of thinking at various points in life. And not only for yourself . . .

Don’t underestimate the potential impact of encouraging your children, grandchildren, and young friends to think through these kinds of big-picture questions.

Less than two years after I wrote these goals, on the weekend of my 21st birthday, my dad died suddenly of a heart attack.

I’m so thankful for his efforts to encourage me to live a purposeful life to the glory of God. And that he didn’t think the teen years were too young to challenge me to seek and embrace God’s vision for my future.

What questions could you ask your child, grandchild or another child you want to influence, to help shape big-picture thinking and priorities?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a mentor and "spiritual mother" to hundreds of thousands of women who have read her best-selling books and who listen to her two daily radio programs, Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him. She communicates a love for the Lord and the Word that is infectious! Nancy is the author of many books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. Learn more about her ministry and women’s revival conferences at Revive Our Hearts and True Woman.

* This post is part of an article at titled “My Dad’s Impromptu Challenge.” The article includes the goals that Nancy wrote when she was 19.


Upgrade Your "DREAM" Goals

As I was thinking about the New Year, Kathy Carlton Willis inspired me with her “DREAM” acrostic. I want to share it with our Upgrade readers.

“Everyone has dreams God has planted in them,” Kathy said. “Whether they are big or small, they have vast importance in our lives. But to turn dreams into goals, we have to wake up the procrastinator.”

Kathy had me there! I am a part-time procrastinator. The apostle Paul spoke about goals (Philippians 3:13b-14) and the writer of Proverbs wrote about planning (Proverbs 21:5a), so I know God wants us to have goals.

Yet I had two goals that I was putting off planning for (procrastinating) until … when? It just seemed too overwhelming. But I’m glad I didn’t stop reading there.

Kathy continues …  

With just a little bit of planning, you can accomplish the goals God has for your life.

Set a realistic but challenging/inspiring goal. Make the goal big enough to challenge and excite you. Divide bigger goals into smaller steps so you aren’t overwhelmed.

Plan ahead. Once you’ve broken down your goal into pieces, keep a record of it on your computer or in a journal. Give yourself deadlines for each step. Otherwise, procrastination might get the best of you.

Brainstorm ideas. Wade through some silly ideas to mine the good nuggets.

Be passionate. Striving toward a goal without passion is like a fire which slowly runs out of fuel to burn. Get excited; this will only work if you love what you’re doing.

Revisit and evaluate your goals. Keep a record of your goals and make adjustments accordingly.

Consider new opportunities and options that come your way.

Ask God to show you what goals to set, and then get specific by asking Him to show you what you can do today to get one step, however small, closer to achieving your goals. Stay focused and believe in yourself even if others do not believe in you.

Set Your DREAM Goals:

D - Does it make a DIFFERENCE in your community? (Impact and Significance)

R - Can you REACH it? (Attainable and Realistic)

E - Does it ENERGIZE you? (Passion and Giftedness)

A - Can you ANALYZE it? (Track Results)

M - Does it fit your MISSION? (Purpose and Calling)

What are your DREAM Goals for this New Year? Which of Kathy’s tips might help you achieve them?

Kathy Carlton Willis shines for God, reflecting His light as a speaker at writer's conferences and women's retreats, and as an author - contributing to three books and writing hundreds of columns and articles online and in print publications. Her article today is an excerpt from Speaker to Speaker: The Essential Speaker’s Companion (Oaktara Publishing, to be released later in 2014). Kathy is also a publicist with Kathy Carlton Willis Communications. She and her husband/pastor,  Russ, live in Texas.

Image in Text: Courtesy of Grant Cochrane at

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