January 07, 2016

Keep Calm and Set Realistic Goals – Ramona Heikel

Every fall our school staff members set professional goals, and I usually come up with five or more projects on my list that I absolutely must do, regardless of whether or not I will have time in my schedule to work on them.  The past two years as I’ve met with the assistant principal in October, she has reviewed my list and said, “Too many goals.  Pick three.”  So I pick three. 

At first, I am stunned that the other items may not be done and may have to wait until next year.  Unthinkable!  But then I am relieved.  It is so nice to have someone force me to have a schedule with room to breathe!  And as a bonus, having well-defined, do-able goals makes it easy to prepare my required professional goal “reflections” six months later in the spring.

I have been carrying this over into my personal life, too, and what a life-changing experience.  Spurred on by Gordon MacDonald in his 1985 book Ordering Your Private World, slowly but surely I am able to realistically assess my available time and energy, review my plans and commitments, and define my spiritual priorities.  I can’t describe how much this one huge revelation is affecting all the other facets of my life, and I am convinced it is an answer to years of prayer.  My inner slave driver is less demanding and I am much calmer these days!

So here are my simple writing goals for 2016:

#1.  Pray for direction on my own blog.  Just pray.  Until I get direction.

#2.  Spruce up 5 finished pieces and find homes for them.

#3.  (The hardest one) Listen to what is deep down in my heart, and write about that.  I usually listen to my head, instead of my heart, but because I am an artist—a word artist, and a creative child of our creative God—I believe I have deeper things inside to share with the world, which are unique and valuable.  It’s my responsibility to discover what they are and I’m thinking of using free writing as one way to help do that.  (Do you have any thoughts or suggestions?)

With these goals, I eagerly await finding out what this writing year has in store!

Posted by Ramona

Photo courtesy of  stevepb at pixabay


  1. Thanks for this introspective blog, Ramona. I became introspective reading it, for I too was a teacher and expected a lot of myself. This made me overly ambitious in my goal setting too. I wish someone had told me that I had too many goals, that I was stretching myself too thin. Looking back, however, I recognize that God was trying to tell me this and so was my husband for that matter. And that is something I must become better at doing. I must improve my listening. Thanks for your insight.

  2. Seems to me you're allowing God to be your principal in your private goal-setting! What a brilliant carry-over in learning. May your 3 gentle goals bring you joy in 2016.

  3. Short, sweet, realistic and spiritually prioritizing - good advice, Ramona! Thanks.

  4. Anonymous7:10 am GMT-7

    Being committed and focused on three projects is SMART, I would say! I am finally reading (after being on my book shelf for 3 years) If You Want to Write, by Brenda Ueland. She has a way of nudging you gently but firmly to write authentically from the 'guts' of you, rather than from the rules.

  5. Praying and listening to God's direction. Yes, yes, yes. Sometimes I think we forget that it was God who made us creative beings and it was God that gave us our creative abilities--so it only makes sense to let God give us the creative direction in using our creativity. This is great, Ramona. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thanks for sharing, Ramona. I too, struggle to cut my goals down in number. I'm looking forward to hearing how God leads and blesses you this year.


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.