Outline Your Goals, Then Populate The Outline

by | Jan 1, 2010

Portland author Donald Miller has some thoughts on New Year’s resolutions.

I’ve discovered something better than resolutions. If you’ve read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, you know I’ve reorganized my life into stories rather than goals. I don’t have any problem with goals. I like goals and still set them. But without an overarching plot, goals don’t make sense and are hard to achieve. A story gives a goal a narrative context that makes sense to the brain, making them more likely to actually be achieved.

A story involves a person that wants something and is willing to overcome conflict to get it. If you plan a story this year, instead of just simple goals, your life will be more exciting, more meaningful and more memorable. And you are much more likely to stick to your goals. For instance, rather than saying I want to finish getting into shape this year, I’ve written down that I want to climb Mt. Hood with a couple friends. I have a vision of standing on top of the mountain in May, taking pictures and all that. Now my goal has a narrative context.

Narrative context is good. One of my goals is to be a better friend this year. But that’s kind of vague, isn’t it?

My goal needs specifics if I’m going to work my plan successfully. Specifically, I need to back off this tap tap tap medium that’s become so central to our lives, and actually call my friends on the phone and then make plans to go see them!