Goals Can’t Be Compartmentalized

goals cant be compartmentalized Goals Cant Be Compartmentalized

Before you launch into setting down your goals and start making plans on how to reach them, there’s another concept that needs to be understood and become a permanent part of your thinking. Don’t fall into the false philosophy of believing that life can be compartmentalized, that you can keep certain parts of your life completely separate from the other parts.

Living an incremental life is living through stages, not separated episodes—your life is a connected whole.  Life stages are never compartmentalized. Just as your life has naturally flowed from birth through childhood into adulthood and beyond, so do your choices, actions, and experience. It’s foolish to think you can keep any part of your life separated from the rest. When you attempt to keep certain parts separated, your life begins to fragment and you start to feel frayed at the edges.

All of Your Life is Interconnected

Everything you’re involved in, every relationship, every decision, every action, every success and failure, every secret—all of them have a direct effect on everything else going on in your life. When you get a handle on this truth and keep it in the forefront of your mind, your goal-making and life planning process changes dramatically.

How will reaching your goal effect your relationships with your significant other, children, family, and friends? How will the journey toward your goal effect your career, or your mental and physical health? These and many more issues must be taken into consideration as you sit down to map our your goals.

So, for your vision and goals to have long-term positive impact, they must take into account every facet of your life, including but not limited to:

life pie chart Goals Cant Be Compartmentalized

Notice that while each piece above may have a separate label, they’re all connected—all part of the same circle of your life.

As you sit down and begin to think through who you want to become, don’t forget to consider the impact your goals will have on your entire life, not only the parts that most closely associated with that goal. Next,we’ll get those goals put down on paper.

How Should I Determine My Goals?

The Incremental Life1 How Should I Determine My Goals?

I wrote in my last post about how one of the facets of The Incremental Life is to have goals and dreams in mind—a destination to work toward. There are those who have no problems with goal setting, but for those who do, this post if for you.

People who have trouble setting goals often fall into one of two camps. They’re either people with little to no ambition, or people who don’t yet have a focus to point themselves towards. My guess is that, if you’re reading this, you’re more likely to fall into the latter group.

How do you set goals if you don’t know where you want to go? Bill Hybels, in his Simplify sermon series, directs us to ask a far better question.

Don’t ask what you should do; ask, “Who do I want to become?” And when you schedule your life around that idea, the rest will fall into place.

You see, the choices we make today are taking us down a path to somewhere, but is it where we want to go? Who are we becoming as we walk through life, and are those steps molding us into someone we want to become?

Take some time right now to write out a list of attributes you would want someone to use to describe you. Here’s a short list to get you started:

  • Cheerful
  • Generous
  • Faithful
  • Successful
  • Entrepreneur
  • Famous
  • Humble
  • Leader
  • Servant
  • Honest

Now let’s take it to a higher level. Write out the eulogy you hope someone might give at your funeral someday. That’s the person you want to become.

Only then will you be ready to begin writing out your goals.

Hybels quote How Should I Determine My Goals?

Are You Living an Incremental Life? You Should Be

The Incremental Life1 Are You Living an Incremental Life? You Should Be

The first step in seeing your goals and dreams realized is to realize that there are steps to reaching those goals and dreams.

How’s that for a convoluted sentence?

A successful life is one that is lived in purposeful increments. Proverbs 13:4 says, “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.” (NLT) Some translations use the word diligent to describe those who find prosperity. Notice the proverb doesn’t say only Christians or religious people will prosper, or only those who pray a special prayer or live according to a secret formula—it specifically says those who work hard will prosper.

No Easy Prosperity Schemes Here

The kind of life that finds prosperity through hard work is what I call The Incremental Life. The Incremental Life isn’t sexy or exciting to outsiders, but it’s a life set up for success.  The Incremental Life looks something like this:

  • The Incremental Life has goals and dreams in mind—a destination.
  • The Incremental Life has steps mapped out toward those goals—a plan.
  • The Incremental Life has intentionality behind every step—a purpose.
  • The Incremental Life has no excuses for shortcuts—a work ethic.
  • The Incremental Life has counted and understands the costs—a budget.

Climb the Stairs

The Incremental Life is like the staircase of a tall building. Each small step is a mark of upward motion toward your ultimate goal. There can be dozens, hundreds, or thousands of steps between where you are and where you want to be, and getting there will sometimes wear you out and wear you down.

There are landings all along the way, each one with a door that opens up to a new floor to explore. You can choose to stop and explore that floor, but should you? Is there something of worth behind that new door? Will you be distracted or delayed in reaching your final destination on time?

Why take the stairs instead of the elevator? You have far greater appreciation for what’s been achieved because it wasn’t easy. You didn’t take the easy way of staying on always-level ground and pushing a button that magically did all the work to lift you up while you stood still. You moved higher only through determination, focus, and effort. Even if you had to stop and rest along the way, even if you went back down a few steps because you dropped something, or even if you had help now and again, you can say you walked every step from the bottom to the top.

The first step in seeing your goals and1 Are You Living an Incremental Life? You Should Be

The Beauty of Contentment

The Beauty of Contentment Pin1 The Beauty of Contentment

Look Beneath the Surface

For about the last year and a half—since I retired from full-time ministry—my family has been involved in a church in a community next door to ours. The average income in that community is probably somewhere between 2 to 4 times my family’s yearly income. I have to be honest and admit that there are times when I look at the houses of some of my new friends and acquaintances that I’m a bit envious. I see the nice cars they drive and other cool things I hear them doing—like taking expensive vacations—and a part of me wishes I could live that life. Discontent begins to stir in my soul.

But if you peel away the surface and look deeper, I guarantee you’ll find a person who’s life isn’t perfect. They have struggles and problems just like the rest of us, and we have no idea if they’re just really good at looking confident and secure in public but fall apart in private because of all the stress. That big house and the matching car and the vacations all come with hefty bills. Do we have any idea how far into debt they went to look so good?

I’ve gotten to know some of the people in the community through our church, but also through leading some of them through Financial Peace University. The reality is that they may have high paying jobs, but those jobs come with high-pressure and long hours. They may have big houses twice the size of mine or larger, but they also have mortgage debt sometimes 4 or 5 times my own. Not to mention that just about every subdivision in their city has an HOA that makes them pay yearly dues on top of it all. Even more burdensome is that some of them have several hundred thousands in student loan debt, two or three car payments or leases, several thousand dollars in consumer debt, and no money saved for their kids’ college or their own retirement.

Would you really want to trade places?

Stopping Comparison Ends Discontent

To be honest, their lives suddenly don’t look so appealing anymore. I maybe don’t make as much, but I don’t have the pressure and long hours. I get to sit at home in my living room near my wife and kids and pretty much set my own hours. My house isn’t as big, but I live in a house that’s now worth quite a bit more than we owe, so we could sell it at a tidy profit in the current market if necessary—plus we don’t have an HOA breathing down our necks.

None of this is to brag or put anyone else down and say that they’re just a bunch of irresponsible children. It’s just that when I look at the facts, I find that I have absolutely no right to be discontent with my circumstances. Looking beyond the surface at someone else’s life is a reminder to be content with where I am and with what I have. That car sitting out in the sun that’s had the glove box completely disintegrate and fall out? It’s paid for. My house that’s half the size or smaller than someone else’s? It more than meets our needs and honestly allows us to life in lavish comfort compared to most people in this world.

There’s beauty in contentment. Envy can’t find ground to take root in my soul, and there’s peace in knowing I have more than enough already. Who needs more?