Our Areas of Focus and Why We’re Not Setting Goals

A couple weeks ago I shared that I’m in need of some serious change this year. My husband and I had let life run away with us, and before we knew it we were caught in a perpetual whirlpool of busy-ness. We were tired of being tired, stressed, and unfulfilled, doing everything we could to keep up but feeling like it was still never enough, and holding dreams in our hearts but being too scared to actually take steps forward and believe Jesus could bring them to life.

So last month, as I prayed about what word to adopt for 2014, one stood out above the others: Follow.

What does that mean? In short – it means to kiss yes-itis, people-pleasing, and the ways of this world goodbye and follow Jesus into fuller life.

Follow – Kissing yes-itis people-pleasing and the ways of this world behind to follow Jesus into fuller lifeAs I shared all of this with the hubster, he was feeling the same itch for something different. So I asked Steph to make us a free printable that we could use to lay out the areas we felt God calling us to lay before Him and surrender to Him.

The hubster and I put a list together, and as I was thinking about what to call each of these items, I kept coming back to one thing: They’re not goals!

Why not? Two reasons.

The first is because goals are those things that stare you in the face and say if you don’t reach this mark you’re not “there” yet. Wherever “there” happens to be. 

And the second is because goals have a tendency to shift my gaze onto myself and how I’m doing instead of onto Christ and who He is. That’s exactly how we ended up in that pit of busy-ness and stress in the first place, so keeping our eyes on ourselves is definitely not the way out.

Add to that the fact that if I’ve learned anything in my three-plus decades of life, it’s that we’re rarely perfect. And change or dreams or whatever we’re desiring in our hearts don’t always happen overnight. It’s probably true that we’re not taking one single step away from yes-itis and people-pleasing until we learn to love ourselves and our lives just as we are.

So instead of goals, we’re calling these items “areas of focus.”

These are things that we feel the Lord laying on our hearts and things that we want to pay attention to. They’re areas where He’s saying, “Follow Me this way,” and we’re saying, “Ok!”

How we are kissing yes-itis and busy-ness goodbye and following Jesus into fuller life

Of course when I went to hang up our framed list I remembered that we live in a 100 year old apartment with concrete walls. And even though I had a dream that the hubster drilled holes in the wall for me in the middle of the night, that didn’t actually happen. So you get a shot of it hanging out on my bedspread instead.

Remember what I said about baby steps?

Our areas of focus are:

  • Putting God first: We want to remember that ultimately He’s the one we’re living for, and He’s the doer when anything good gets done.
  • Taking care of ourselves: This is a reminder that we can’t love our neighbor as ourselves until we know how to love ourselves.
  • Invest in our marriage: It’s self explanatory, but we want to be intentional with our marriage and not get caught up in all the day to day stuff of life.
  • Financial freedom: We’re borrowing a Dave Ramsey term here, and we’re marching toward paying down our debt and paying up our savings.
  • Dissertation: The hubster asked for this one to be on our list as he finishes up PhD in clinical psychology. For me this is a reminder to ask God how I can best encourage him and serve him while he tackles this important project (and we get one step closer to freedom. Yay!).
  • Dream #1: FF: We’re also listing exciting dreams that we feel God’s placed on our hearts. This is a Fernando family dream that the hubster and I have been holding close to our hearts for the past year so we’re intentionally believing that it will come to reality, and we’re asking what we need to do to be ready. (No, it’s not a baby…)
  • Dream #2: PLC: This is a dream that Steph and I share. See below for a little peek at what’s in store.
  • Forefront values: humility, community, generosity: Our pastor gave a series of slam dunk sermons on these values and his vision to see us live these out as one Body. And since we’re holding tight to Romans 15:5-6 we want to keep these at the forefront of our mind (see how I did that?).

How we are kissing yes-itis and busy-ness goodbye and following Jesus into fuller life - our list
Bad jokes and uneven pics aside, you could basically call these items spiritual health, physical health, financial health, relational health, emotional health if you wanted to.

Of course we’re not just going to be all willy nilly about these things, because the goal is to actually follow where He’s leading. We have a beginners plan in place of how we want to be intentional in following, and I’ll share that with you soon.

And back to Dream #2 at the bottom? Steph and I want to tell you all about that soon! Until then rest assured PLC rhymes with PYT, and I’ve had that song stuck in my head all month.

Ok, now you tell me… Have you ever found yourself totally consumed in busy-ness, yes-itis, or people-pleasing? If you could kiss those things goodbye, what would you follow Jesus toward? (Already doing it? Tell me your secrets!)



  1. Great great idea and I like the not a goal statement too. We are moving forward with what God has been putting on our hearts….not so ready to share but it is for sure less of me and more of God.


  2. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Thank you for sharing your journey. You know I’ve been struggling a bit with discouragement recently, feeling like baby steps are not enough, even when they are all I can manage. There’s so much truth in what you are saying here, that goals keep confronting us with the reality that we’re not “there” yet, wherever “there” really is–and also, more importantly, that sometimes goals can keep us focused on ourselves and our ability/inability rather than on Christ. Sigh. I think I need some middle ground. I don’t want to be evaluating my worth and my progress based on the ultimate goals (for health, for creativity, for relationship, for spiritual growth) but I also don’t want to simply “hope” for those things without making specific choices to head towards those things that God’s placed on my heart. And maybe some of that balance comes from doing this in community, from letting others into our journey and our struggles and letting them speak hope and encouragement when we’re feeling the weight of how far we’ve got to go. Anyway, I love what you’re doing here and I’m *so* excited to find out what your dreams are!!!


    1. Seriously, friend… I know EXACTLY what you mean! Finding that elusive middle ground where we’re taking steps in obedience, faith, and intention while still feeling totally OK with where we are can be so hard. I’m convinced the only way to do it is by grace. And definitely in community. Thank you a billion times over for your encouragement! So glad we get to journey together!


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