For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
During my first appointment with a psychiatrist, back when I was struggling with a postpartum anxiety disorder, my doctor asked me an interesting question.
He’d begun the appointment by asking me to describe myself. I told him about my different personality traits, ending with a slightly shameful admittance that I was quite organized and very Type-A. (Remember, this was years before I had written or spoken a single word for this ministry.)
Looking down as he wrote his notes, he asked, “Do you like that about yourself?”
“What do you mean?” I asked. I didn’t get it. No one likes a Type-A person. My least favorite phrase ever was (and is) “anal-retentive,” and I shuddered to think that phrase might apply to me.
Then he looked me right in the eye. “Do you like being Type-A? Does it help you? Or do you want to change it?”
I was thunderstruck. As I slowly answered him, I discovered that I do in fact like being Type-A. I get a lot done. I’m generally responsible and dependable. This is something I like about myself, and I don’t want to change it, I realized. Leaning into that part of myself helped me to deal with a lot of anxiety. So did recognizing that I needed to relax a bit!
Fast-forward about eight years to my goal-setting session last January. I was trying to come up with better ways to accomplish my goals, especially the few that I knew I would struggle with. As I looked back on my successes from the previous year, I realized they were almost always project-oriented. I do better when I batch things together and block out time to do them.
But I also know that I get very tunnel-visioned about my projects and cause myself unnecessary spiritual clutter. I tend to become so driven that I ignore the texts, emails, and papers that pile up while my head is down. I also tend to ignore some of my other goals (for example, just grabbing what’s handy instead of making healthy eating choices).
So, I decided to lean into who I am when planning for 2019. I set up my goals in a very project-oriented way, batching what I could and even changing some of my routines. I also determined that I would “Keep Up, Not Catch Up.” I wouldn’t let myself begin my project for the day unless my “desk” was clear and I had made a food plan. And I had such a wonderful, productive year!
In that vein, I’d like to help you discover how God made you to accomplish your goals!
- Identify your strong, God-given personality traits.
- Lean into them as you set goals and make plans.
- Recognize the personality traits that might trip you up and plan for them, too.
Here’s a little exercise. These statements represent the opposite ends of some personality spectrums. Rank yourself on a scale from 1 to 10, with a “1” meaning that you identify entirely with the first statement and a “10” meaning you identify entirely with the second statement. (Note that neither is a “good” statement or a “bad” one, just the way God may have made you!)
- I’m refreshed by time alone. I’m refreshed by time with others.
- I’m organized and structured. I’m disorganized and flexible.
- I’m a quick decision-maker. I take a long time to ponder decisions.
- I get things done, but sometimes miss the bigger picture. I make big plans and dreams, but then fizzle out on them.
- I love to help people and will often sacrifice my own desires and plans for them. I have a hard time changing the way I do things for others.
- I want other people to like and be impressed with me. I don’t care about what other people think about me.
- I want to do things my own, creative way. I’m happy to follow the proven path of someone else.
- I don’t like criticism, and I generally think my way is the right one. I take advice well and often change the way I do things accordingly.
- I always have a list of things to do, and I’m usually working on it. I need others to point me in the right direction and follow up with me.
- I need motivation and rewards to get me moving. I’m inwardly driven.
Ignore any statement sets for which you answered a 4, 5, 6, or 7. Highlight the statements with which you agreed most strongly, and consider these questions for each:
- Do you think this is a strong, God-given personality trait, or a reaction to a life event?
- How do you think God views this part of you?
- What do you like about this personality trait? How might you lean into this part of you as you set goals?
- What don’t you like about this personality trait? How might you plan for its associated pitfalls and spiritual clutter?
God made you with gifts, talents, and strengths—exactly what you need to walk down the path He has chosen for you. Prayerfully decide to use those parts of yourself for the good in your life, and don’t let Satan prey on the weaknesses!
For more about goal-setting, check out my first book, Organizing You: Finding Your Spiritual Clutter and Using Organization to Clear it Out.
And I must mention, this is exactly the kind of exercise I do with my coaching clients! If you’re interested in Organizing You coaching with me (Christian life coaching with an emphasis on my expertise areas like organization, goal-setting, and goal-achieving), please contact me!
And please share this with other goal-setters! Here’s a pin friendly image:
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