Thursday, February 24, 2022

Goal Setting Fridays - 5 Ways to Up Your Goals

Welcome to Goal Setting Fridays!

Why Fridays?
So you can ruminate over the weekend & get a fresh start on Monday!

Please subscribe to receive all new posts!

Don’t forget to check out last week’s post:

S.M.A.R.T. Goals Saved My Reading Life

Last week, I shared a recent journey in my reading life, 
and how the S.M.A.R.T. acronym helped me achieve my goal.

To remind ourselves, a S.M.A.R.T. goal is:


By using the S.M.A.R.T. pattern, I was able to increase my reading from almost no books a year to 24 books a year!

I completed this goal in 2018 and again in 2019, but then the pandemic hit, and everything changed!

Reading was one of the things that truly saved me in 2020. I couldn’t bear to read non-fiction, but I devoured books about historical heroines, quirky friends, and faraway adventures.

In 2020, I had set a goal of reading 24 books. 
By New Year’s Eve, I’d read 42!
(You can find my 2020 reading list HERE.)

2021 came, and I thought, “Well, that was fun, but it certainly isn't repeatable. This year will be sooooo different!”

(Ah, the naiveté of January, 2021…)

“24 is obviously too low; 42 is too high. I’ll split the difference and read 36 this year.”

By August, I’d smashed that goal completely! 
It had become abundantly clear: 
It was time to up my goal!

Upping your goals isn’t about creating something new. 

Instead, it’s about adding to a goal-already-in-progress.
It’s stretching a goal to give yourself an even greater challenge,
and potentially, an even greater success!

Realizing you’ve outgrown an older goal is a really exciting moment! 

Not only have you succeeded in your original goal, but you’ve grown to the point that you now need a new challenge.

How do you know when it’s time to up a goal?

It’s no longer a challenge.

It’s become too easy for you to achieve.

You’re achieving the goal much sooner than planned.

You realize you underestimated your abilities.

You’re getting bored!

I had definitely reached that point with my reading goal. It was glaringly obvious that 24 books had become too easy to achieve. Plus, I’d re-fallen in love with reading! I craved moving stories and inspired writing. 24 books just wasn’t enough to satisfy me anymore. 

Remember, upping your goals isn’t just about doing more for the sake of doing more.
It's about realizing growth, and rewarding it with an even greater challenge.

As our S.M.A.R.T. acronym tells us, we still want to be Realistic.
If you have to up your goal, that means you've discovered a whole new level of what’s Realistic!
You’ve raised the barre! You’ve stretched and grown your own Circle of Influence.
How awesome is that?

Here are 5 ways you can up your existing goals:


Sometimes, it’s as easy as increasing the numbers:

Want to lose 5 pounds? Try losing 6.
Want to run 10 km? Try running 15.
Want to write 100 pages? Try writing 200.


Because your goal is Time-sensitive, you’ve set a timeline for your achievement. Maybe you need to shorten that timeline.

Are you trying to accomplish your goal in 6 months? Maybe you can do it in 5? Or even 4?

Again, keep it Realistic. The point is to challenge yourself, not give yourself burnout.


Maybe your goal isn’t about achieving something quickly, but about building a longterm habit. Rather than shortening your timeline, maybe you need to extend it.

If your goal is to walk 20 minutes a day for a month, what about making it two months?

Or maybe that’s not the time you want to increase. Maybe, instead, you increase your walk from 20 minutes to 25 minutes?

Either way, play with time to see if you can stretch and grow your habit goal.


If a project is coming together easier and faster than anticipated, how can I add to it to make it more dynamic and complex?

For example, let’s say my goal is to organize a community concert for local bands. Things start coming together really quickly and easily. What can I add to this project that’s still Realistic, but also works towards my goal? 

Maybe I can set up tables for local vendors? Or have the art school create a pop-up gallery? Or add face-painting and a kids stage for our younger audience? 

Each of these ideas adds to the complexity of the original idea: “organize a community concert.”


Many goals are solitary pursuits, but sometimes our goals are based in community.
(Community in this sense could mean your family, your workplace, your church, or any situation that involves a group of people coming together for a common purpose.) 

If that’s a key component of your goal, how can you increase the involvement of other people?

For example, let’s say my goal is to create a community garden. I need six volunteers to get the garden started.

That first summer, I quickly reach my goal of six volunteers. Excellent! 

So, how can I up this goal?

Maybe, I can get more volunteers, so we can build a bigger garden?

Maybe, I decide to make it a multi-generational garden. How can I find some young people to partner with the seniors?

Maybe, I’d like to have more cultural diversity. Maybe I can start advertising for volunteers in local cultural centres?

Maybe, I want to make the garden accessible for volunteers in wheelchairs. Is there a local builder who can understand the special requirements of physically challenged gardeners? 

All of these are great ways to up your goals!

For my growing reading goal, the answer was clear: Higher Total.

I had made the 2021 goal of 36 books, because I was afraid of overcommitting myself. 

But when I reached 36 in August, I realized I was way past the point of no return. I looked at my pace, and realized I could, with a little focus and planning, read 50 books that year.

50 books! I never would have been brave enough to set that goal in 2018, 2019, or even 2020.

But I’d outgrown my initial attempts. It was time to up my goal.

I committed to finishing 50 books in 2021. 
By New Year’s Eve, I’d read 55 books!

For 2022, I’ve made a solid goal of reading 50 books this year! 

My goal fits the S.M.A.R.T. profile perfectly. It’ll take some planning to achieve, but I’m so excited about all the gorgeous books I’ll get to read this year!!

And who knows, maybe in another year or two, this goal might need to be upped again?

Take a close look at your goals this week:

Are there any that are becoming too easy?

Any that leave you bored?

What are some ways you can up your goals?

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Goal Setting Fridays - S.M.A.R.T. Goals Saved My Reading Life


Welcome to Goal Setting Fridays!

Why Fridays? 
So you can ruminate over the weekend & get a fresh start on Monday!

Please subscribe to receive all new posts!

Don’t forget to check out last week’s post:

Eat the “Snow” Elephant

In 2017, I made a horrifying personal discovery:

I’d stopped reading.

Not completely, of course, but by any literary standard, I’d shut the book.
(Insert groan for bad pun here…)

At the end of that year, I couldn’t remember how many books I’d read. Four? Maybe five? I doubted I could count them on one hand.

My degree is a Double Major in Theatre with a Minor in English. That’s a lot of heady, literary pages. And I didn’t stop there. For years, I devoured books by the shelfful. When Gerald and I got married, our biggest debate was where to put all the books in our new home.

But then we moved 7 times in 9 years. Boxes of books became harder and harder to lug around the country. Many times, we just didn’t unpack them, or we put them in storage for months on end. We took on new jobs and challenges. Our schedule was filled with new creativity and adventures. 

Somewhere along the way, I found other ways to fill my time. 

My reading life had been sidelined.

So, in 2018, I set an ambitious goal for myself:

Read 24 books in a year.

This wasn’t just about choosing a random number of books to read. I truly wanted to reset and reenergize my reading life.

This felt like a huge leap. I knew it would require a shift in my time and my mindset. I wanted reading to be important again. 

Because of everything that was at stake, I really wanted to succeed, so I created a S.M.A.R.T. Goal.

If you’re not familiar with this acronym, it stands for:






Depending on where you search, there are some variations on the words, but the intentions are always the same.

Here’s why my simple goal - Read 24 books in a year - was a perfect S.M.A.R.T. Goal:

Read 24 books. Not articles, or blogposts, or stories. Read books. 24 of them, please.

Read 24 books. It’s a concrete number, easy to measure.

I told Gerald and my parents what I was doing. I knew achieving my goal would require a bit of a lifestyle change as I learned to dedicate more time to reading. I wanted their support and understanding.

24 books a year, or 2 books a month, sounded like something I could possibly make work. If I’d aimed for 100 books that first year, it would have been completely unreasonable. Chances are, I would have fallen far short of that number, and would have given up on the goal entirely. I knew that 24 books would require some focus and planning, and that it would push my limits, but ultimately, it felt doable.

24 books in a year, or 2 books a month. This gives me a clearly defined schedule of how to achieve my goal. If I could keep that average pace of 2 books a month, I would stand a great chance of success. 

My progress ebbed and flowed throughout the year. Some months, I could only manage one long book, so the next month, I would choose 3 shorter books to keep myself on schedule. I kept a list of all the titles I read so that I could celebrate my monthly success and not lose track of where I was in the 24. Gerald was very supportive any time I claimed a Sunday afternoon as “book time.”

December was busy, as it often is for musicians, so by the end of the month, I was coming up short. I had to read two books in the final week of 2018. I wrapped up a novel on the 30th, but there was no time to squeeze in the final book. 

Finally, Dad suggested I read “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” A cheeky suggestion, but as he pointed out, it’s a well-studied seasonal classic, and yes, technically, it’s a book!

On the day before New Year’s Eve,
I celebrated the completion of my 24 Books of 2018!

As I stated earlier, the main point of this goal wasn’t simply to read 24 books.
It was a means to a greater end. 

The true goal was to reset and reenergize my reading life,
and I’m thrilled to say, it worked!

I set another goal of 24 books in 2019 and 2020, but as we all know,
everything changed in 2020... 

But that’s another story!
Stay tuned for Chapter 2, next week…

(And I promise, an end to the booky puns!)

Look at the goals you’ve created for 2022.
Are they S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

What can you do to make them
Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive?

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Goal Setting Fridays - Eat the "Snow" Elephant

Welcome to Goal Setting Fridays!

Why Friday?
So you can ruminate over the weekend & get a fresh start on Monday!

Please subscribe to receive all new posts!

Last week, we revealed

The Secret Code of Procrastination

Winter has hit hard here in Niagara.
We’ve had a lot of snow. And I mean - A LOT!!! 

It’s the kind of weather where people who’ve been living here for 50 years are saying things like, “We’ve never seen this much snow before!”

I’m including my new favourite photo for your amusement! That’s me on the first day of our first storm. Gerald took this from our front porch. I’m standing on the sidewalk.

On that one day, we had somewhere between 50-60 cm overnight! Forget waking up to a gentle blanket of snow - we were smothered under a full-on double duvet!

We had to shovel through drifts just to get off the front porch. We live in a downtown area with tall, Edwardian houses and small front lawns. It took a full 10 minutes just to get to the end of our front walk. I made my way to the driveway, where I could finally see the full impact of the blizzard. The entire SUV was missing under a mountain of white stuff. There were several feet piled up in every direction. And the space from the car to road was well above my knees.

I felt overwhelmed. My mighty shovel suddenly felt like a teaspoon in my mittened hands. 

More snow was in the forecast. If we didn’t clear this out today, it was only going to get worse.

I suddenly thought,
 “Just eat the elephant.”

“Eat the Elephant” has become one of my favourite mottos ever. It’s especially fun to mention at parties if you want to get barraged with “What’d she say?” looks.

Often attributed to Desmond Tutu, the original phrase says this:

“There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”

So often, we are faced with hugely overwhelming tasks. They can seem insurmountable. But, if we just keep nibbling away at it, eventually, the job will get done.

My snow drifts definitely felt elephant-sized! There was only one way to clear them.

I started to dig in, one shovelful at a time. I took deep breaths into my back, stopping often to stretch. Neighbours helped neighbours, clearing walkways and sharing laughs. I took photos of the covered cars and sugar-coated tree branches.

Several hours later, thanks to lots of little bites, our patch of property was relatively snow-free.
At least, for a while…

It’s the same when we have any kind of large, overwhelming goal.

The key to accomplishing our huge, Longterm Goals is to take them one bite at the time.

This is where our Habit Goals and Single Moment Goals come in.

  • Want to write a book? Write one page a day.
  • Want to sing an opera? Start learning the first line.
  • Want to read the Bible? Read a few verses each day.
  • Want to declutter your house? Empty one drawer.

Over time, these tiny “bites” add up!

It may feel small in the moment, but remember:
Any progress is progress!

What huge goal do you want to accomplish?
What’s one tiny “bite” you could take today?

Thursday, February 03, 2022

Goal Setting Fridays - The Secret Code of Procrastination

Welcome to Goal Setting Fridays!

Why Fridays?
So you can ruminate over the weekend & get a fresh start on Monday!

Please subscribe to receive all new posts!

Don’t forget to check out last week’s post:

What Exactly is a “Single Moment Goal”? 

If you love to make To Do Lists, you’ve probably noticed an annoying phenomenon:

As much as you get done,
there are still those items that you find impossible to cross off! 

No matter what you do, you just can’t bring yourself to do them.
Sometimes, these pesky items can hang out on your To Do List for weeks, months, or even years!

I’m not a procrastinator by nature. I love checking things off my To Do List!
But this nasty phenomenon can strike even the best of us.

Years ago, I decided to register our original Infinitely More worship songs with CCLI - Christian Copyright Licensing International. 

Sidebar for Licensing 101: Have you ever attended a church service where the song lyrics are on a screen or printed on a song sheet? Then, you’ve probably encountered the work of CCLI. Traditionally, when hymnals were printed, part of your purchase price went towards paying the songwriters for use of their creations. But once songs started going on screens and song sheets, songwriters weren’t getting paid. CCLI stepped up as an international licensing service, providing lots of resources for churches and creators, including payment to songwriters for the Sunday morning use of their music and lyrics.

I knew registering our songs would be a great way to help get our music out to churches, as well as providing a potential means of ministry support. I went online, did my research, and requested the registration documents.

Well, that set of documents sat on my desktop for weeks. Then, months. A year later, I threw them out and requested new ones. That started the cycle over again. Weeks, months, throw them out, request new copies.

This went on for three years!

You see, the documents were full of tax forms and legalese that felt beyond my skillset. I also needed to visit a notary, and I had no idea what that even meant! And how could I even start to understand “international tariffs”? It was all too much.

I might not be a procrastinator by nature, but boy,
I was a Super Procrastinator with CCLI!

Remember last week, when we talked about Risk?

Simply put:
Single Moment Goals, by their very nature, always have Risk involved.
To Do List items never do.

Look at those To Do items that have been hanging out on your list for weeks or months. They can be so deceptively simple - make a phone call, submit the application, donate that bag of old clothes - but for some reason, they hold a lot of power. 

May I suggest that they’re not as simple as they might seem?

Perhaps, your Procrastination is a Secret Code for Risk.

Make that phone call? “What if the person doesn’t want to talk to me?”

Submit the application? “What if I get rejected?”

Donate that bag of old clothes? “What if I gain back the weight and need them?”

Once you recognize the Code, you must also recognize that this isn’t a simple To Do item.

This is a Single Moment Goal

It carries Risk. That’s why you’ve been struggling to get it done.

Registering with CCLI definitely had Risk.

It meant I was putting our songs in the same system as the songs of Chris Tomlin, Bethel Music, and Hillsong.
It meant one more administrative task for me to have to manage.
And, filling out those forms meant I needed to ask for help - lots of help!

But after naming the Risk, I took some time to think about the potential rewards.

I imagined what it would be like to see our songs on that licensing site, alongside the songs of Chris Tomlin, Bethel Music, and Hillsong.
I imagined how awesome it would be to tell churches, “Yes, you can license our song.”
And oddly enough, I imagined how my skills could grow by filling out those complicated forms.

So, requested the forms - again! - and this time, I added one more step:

I called CCLI and asked for help.

“Hi, I’m Allison Lynn. My husband and I are songwriters.
I’d like to register our songs with you and I have no idea what I’m doing.”

In the end, I was able to complete and submit the forms within an afternoon. It also turned out there was a notary about five minutes from our house, right across the street from our regular grocery store.

I found the Secret Code of my Procrastination, and I was able to accomplish my Single Moment Goal.

As of today, we have almost 50 original worship songs registered with CCLI, and all the potential rewards I imagined that day have come true.

I can’t say I haven’t procrastinated since then, but I did learn a valuable lesson:

When an item is sticking around on my To Do List for too long, I need to take a closer look.

I need to look for the Secret Code.

Find the Risk.
Name it.
Reimagine the item as a Single Moment Goal.
Imagine the potential rewards.
And then, bravely take the steps needed to complete my Goal! 

What item has been hanging out on your To Do List for too long?
What Secret Code might be hidden in your Procrastination?