May 1


Setting New Goals and Starting Fresh

By Jessica Allen

May 1, 2018

career, faith, family, goals, marriage, priorities, starting fresh

Ahhhh…. a brand new month. We’re starting fresh with a clean slate – it’s a time to reflect, and a chance to start over by setting new goals.

The reality is that literally every second is an opportunity to reboot, but let’s be honest – most of us need the big “landmark” moments to get our mind in the right place. Or at least a Monday morning, anyway.

There are some special dates in my own life that bring fresh starts – New Years Day, the week after Spring Break, my professional New Year on July 1, my birthday in August, and LJ’s birthday in October.

These fresh starts are an open invitation to evaluate myself and my life. Am I where I want to be mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, relationally, financially? Am I making the progress I desire in my faith, my marriage, my family, and my career? What went well in this past season, and what needs work? Which goals did I crush, and which ones did I neglect or completely abandon?

How can I start setting new goals today to bring me closer to the very best life God has planned for me?

Setting new goals: make them meaningful

I like to set my goals in 4 main areas: my faith, my marriage, my family, and my career. In addition, physical, relational, and financial goals matter too.  Fine tune your nutrition/exercise, commit to calling a friend more regularly, put your phone away during conversations with neighbors and family, or eliminate one “guilty spending” leak in your budget.

Those come pretty naturally to most people though, so here’s a little direction in the less-measurable areas:


Faith is a relationship. A really incredible one, when you invest in it with care and commitment. It’s the quiet place in my spirit where no one can get to me… where I can show my most vulnerable underbelly, speak my most humbling insecurities, and ask for help and guidance in the most frightening areas of my life. (Yes, this is where we get to address those “weaknesses” like fear and insecurity. They are real, God knows them all anyway, so it’s a relief to bring them all to His feet and let Him help me with them.)

If you’re new in a faith journey, or have never tried it before, there are some simple daily practices that can help establish a routine – and a fulfilling connection with the One who created you and knows every hair on your head and thought in your mind.

  • Dip into a good book. I love Wonderlife by Mike Foster – it’s a cool workbook for connecting with God and your faith and creating your amazing life.  If you are a raging skeptic, as my husband was for nearly 40 years of his life, try:
    • The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
    • The Christian Athiest by Craig Groeschel**A word of encouragement: doubt is okay. I think God delights in the opportunity to talk to us and prove Himself in real ways in our lives. If you find yourself in a place where you are angry with God, or if there is brokenness and pain in your life holding you back from real relationship with Him, my hope is that you will continue to seek help and healing. A professional can help you with this and so can a loving and faithful friend or spouse.
  • Study Scripture. The One Year Bible has been the most fun new addition to our daily coffee club. A daily prayer/faith moment is as simple as 10 minutes in the morning. Don’t overcomplicate this. It’s easier than a 30 minute workout or any task on your calendar. You’ll feel lighter and calmer for whatever comes next in your day, too.
  • Pray. I’m working on a little guide for daily prayer for us, because what I’m learning is that most people feel completely inept when it comes to putting a prayer into words. So they don’t pray much at all. In the meantime, try a daily prayer devotional that will literally give you the words to say until you feel brave and honest enough to say your own. Try:
    • The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson
    • The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson
    • The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie OMartian (she also offers the Power of a Praying Mom, Husband, Parent, and the Power of Praying for Your Adult Children)
    • My favorite “lesson book” on prayer is Be a Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.   He breaks down the heart and mindset of ordinary and extraordinary prayer, and helps us regular people see how lovely, simple, and powerful prayer can be when we really put it to work.

Set the goal, be bold, and make time for it every day. We commit to our physical health like this, right? Can you imagine how your life might change when you dedicate 30 days to growing your faith and relationship with God?


If this is new for you, join our club because this is new for us within the last year too. Prior to that we had no intentional goals or direction for our marriage, and it wound up with terrible consequences. Marriage experts recommend 15 hours a week concentrated quality time with your spouse. Before your eyes bug out of your head, relax and really think about it. What if you got up 30 minutes early each day to share a cup of coffee together? Or turned the TV off at night to read together or have a conversation? What if you met for lunch one day each week? Or scheduled a nobody-breaks-it regular date night?

I can come up with a million reasons (excuses) why this is hard and would never work. They almost all start with work and kids. But we had two choices: make it work, or call it quits. Making it work has been the best decision we’ve ever made, and the quality time we created together has brought a depth to our marriage I never imagined we’d have.

What goal would you like to set for your marriage this month? Try a simple yet consistent commitment of time for your spouse and I think you’ll be amazed where you are a month from now. It’ll become a little oasis in your life and time you treasure together.


This is another area where time is King. With wild schedules, it’s hard. A dear friend shared with me once that she felt guilt over dinners – they were all eating in the same home, but not really in the same room. Everyone grabbed their meal and headed to the couch, table, etc. I think this is okay. A meal that’s shared is a meal that’s shared. It works for them, and they’re one of the most connected families I know.

Make your system work for you and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.  If you feel disconnected as a family unit, find a way to connect more meaningfully.  Maybe it’s an ice-cream date after dinner, or a phone-free night out, or a dumb-movie night in.  Shoot for something meaningful once a week as a great place to start.  Let the kids vote between two choices or let your spouse pick one – give them some ownership and they’ll start looking forward to these dates as much as you do.

A challenge for our little family is technology. The kids don’t really have a problem but the grown-ups do! We both work from home and run our own businesses from our mobile devices. I have to break up with my phone daily because it’s become a habit to have my eyes glued to a screen. Not good. My commitment to my family this month is to plug my phone in on the counter when school’s out.  Not only that, but leave it there until after the children have gone to bed. If technology is a distraction or addiction, this is a good place to start setting a goal. Set a timer for yourself or turn your phone off. After the withdrawal subsides, your spirit will feel so free.


This is our instant go-to area, because it’s calculated, measurable, and largely controllable. If you notice though, it’s last on the VIP list. Career goals, when you set them and work towards them with intention, are the easiest to make happen. The challenge is to apply that same mentality to the other less-measurable areas in our lives: faith, marriage, and family.

Getting started

No big production needed. Just tear out a sheet of spiral paper and jot them down. Tape them to the fridge and keep your eyes on them daily. Set goals with your spouse – it may feel awkward at first but keep at it. Marriage and family goals are best created together!

To start, set one goal in each area and commit to the daily work to make it happen this month. If you miss day 2, it’s okay. Get back on the wagon! Perfection isn’t the goal – progress is. Establishing any new routine takes 21 days so just keep going!

Setting new goals… doesn’t it feel good? What will you do with these next 31 days of your one wide open, spacious life?




Jessica Allen

About the author

Jessica is a writer, musician, entrepreneur, wife, and mom. Jessica's mission is to write "real" - shining light into the dark places of the tough stuff we all experience. She and her husband Jack live in Houston, Texas and have weathered the storms of grief, infant loss, adoption, and a marriage that almost fell apart. Jessica and Jack have four children: LJ in heaven, Grace, Jackson, and Elisha.

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