We’ve talked about evaluating your performance as a home manager in the past, and I hope that you started by identifying your strengths, because it can be discouraging to only think about the areas that need improvement. In fact, maybe we should have added another question to the list: What do you know you would be good at, if you put your mind to it?
Today, we’re going to look at setting goals for yourself as a home manager rather than just wishing you would do better each year as you blow out the candles on your birthday cake or toast to the New Year.
Start with a Brain Dump
To start, make a list of every area you want to improve in. Write down every single one, no matter how insignificant or silly it seems. I know the list might seem overwhelming, but chances are all of them are floating around in your head anyway, taunting and discouraging you. By writing them down, you can get them out of your brain and onto paper where you can actually create a plan and set goals.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Next, pick the first one or two you want to tackle. As much as we would like to, we can’t simply wake up one day and decide that we’re going to suddenly stay on top of the laundry, dusting, bill-paying, cleaning, dishes, cooking, landscaping, gardening, and organizing all at once. You will end up burnt out, discouraged and no closer to any of your goals if you try to tackle them all at once.
Instead, pick just a couple to start with. Just as Dave Ramsey encourages his followers to start with the smallest debt so that they can build momentum as they go, consider starting with the goals that seem the most fun or you think will be the easiest. If you really love the idea of gardening and one of your goals is to grow more of your own food but you dread the idea of tackling the chaos in your basement, I’d encourage you to start with the garden and leave the basement for later.
Make a Plan
Once you’ve identified one or two goals for yourself, take some time to think through what motivates you and what obstacles prevent you from achieving your goals already.Then, brainstorm strategies for addressing those obstacles.
For example, if you find it hard to stay on top of the laundry because your laundry room is in the basement, you could set aside time to tackle it each day and use that time to catch up with a friend on the phone. Or maybe keeping a radio or CD player down there so that you can listen to music while you fold would help. Maybe a better solution would be to bring the clean clothes upstairs and fold them with your kids in the afternoon or with your husband while you watch TV in the evening.
If one of the things you want to improve is your attitude towards the other people living in your home, think about what triggers a bad attitude and look for ways to address those issues. Maybe you get stressed out when you try to do too many things at once, or maybe having a cluttered, messy house leaves you on edge. Perhaps you start to develop a bad attitude when you haven’t had a chance to get out of the house and socialize. Or maybe the opposite is true, and you become overwhelmed when you’re on the go too much and don’t have enough downtime at home.
No matter what your goals are, take some time to really think through the obstacles and brainstorm different methods for addressing them so that you’re creating a system that works for you. That is really the key to developing a habit that will eventually become second nature rather than having to force yourself to do it every day for the rest of your life!
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Once you have a plan, you can begin making changes to achieve your goals, but please remember that it won’t likely be an instantaneous change. Even though I finally have a laundry system that works for me, there are still weeks when it starts to pile up and I have to dig out from under it. And although I know that waking up to a dirty, messy house on Saturday morning guarantees that I will find myself in a “Saturday-morning snit,” there are still weeks that I put off those tasks until the weekend and end up regretting it.
Don’t create a goal that is too lofty and then give up when you’re unable to stick to it perfectly. Instead, keep moving forward, even after you fall off the wagon, and look for new strategies and tricks to make each task easier for your needs, lifestyle and preferences.
What are your top one or two goals as a home manager? What are the biggest obstacles you face in achieving them? What creative strategies could you develop for tackling them.