Why I’m Creating Progressive Goals This Year (And How You Can Too)

Why I’m Creating Progressive Goals This Year (And How You Can Too)

Today is January 2nd.

There are only two types of people on the first few days of the year: those who have created goals for the new year and those that haven’t.

In a couple of weeks, that will change. There will be three:

  1. Those that didn’t create any goals at all (“Nah, I’m good”)
  2. Those that created goals and are sticking with them (and posting them on Instagram)
  3. Those that have crumpled up their list of goals and thrown them into the trash, as they go back to watching TV and eating donuts (“Only 355 days until next year!”)


A Recipe For Goal Disaster

When it comes to the complex relationship between Shawn and goals, there are two things you need to know — 1) I’m a natural optimist and 2) my brain is ADHD wired.

Put those two together and I usually make goals that are way too big and I lack the discipline to follow through with them anyway.

That’s why I’ve never been great with goal-setting in the past, even though I’ve tried really hard.

Recently, I’ve been thankful for books like Jon Acuff’s Finish, that has a lot of practical tips in this area of accomplishing what we set out to do.

I read it a few months ago and highly recommend it. Solid book, super entertaining, chock full of mindset-shifting ideas and freedom from goal-quitting guilt.

It definitely got me thinking more about why I fail so often with goals.

I’m so optimistic that I tend to lay out an insurmountable but idealistic goal that would require the perfect settings and a more perfect me.

So, it’s usually been Set, Fail, Wait, Repeat.

Until this year.


Progressive Goals

This year I’m doing things a little bit differently.

I’m going to use Progressive Goals.

“What are Progressive Goals?”, you ask?

I’m calling them progressive because, instead of laying out something for “the year”, I’m laying out goals (daily, weekly, monthly) just for January.

I’m starting with goals that are slightly ahead of where I am right now. Goals just for the next month ahead, no more. My plan is to aim to meet those for January and then bump them up again heading into February. And so on.

Some are daily goals (such as drinking a certain amount of water for the day) while others are weekly or monthly.

For example, in the area of fitness I’m currently… okay, I’m actually doing almost nothing right now for fitness. Basketball here and there, but that’s it.

In the past I might have gone from nothing to exercising 5 days a week (in my goal world, mind you). Although that might be possible, schedule-wise, it’s just not going to be sustainable.

So, this year, I’m looking at my current state and picking something that’s currently just out of reach but will get me moving.

One fitness goal is to go from my current state to doing 25 push-ups and sit-ups each day.

I know, I know. Sounds ridiculously easy to most. But, here are four reasons why I like this goal:

  1. There are no excuses for why I can’t do it. No unforeseen scheduling issues or other conflicts should impact it
  2. I have everything I need to do it. Hands, triceps, abs, body weight, floor. Check. Check. Check. Check. And Check.
  3. It’s an easy goal to stack on top of. The plan would be to at least get going with this over January and then bump at for February or even earlier if I feel like it.
  4. There’s nothing about it that sounds too idealistic. Really. It’s just 25 push-ups. But it IS something and something that I need to jump up to.


Get Started

So, what about you? If you’re not a goal setter, I challenge you to try setting a few for the next month. Seriously, if I¬† can do it, anyone can (do I need to remind you of my eternal optimism and ADHD brain).

Or, if you’re someone who has given up on goal-setting because you usually set the bar too high and continually fail, I urge you to try Progressive Goals.

Here’s how to start… today:

  • Pick a category. Here are some of mine: FAMILY, FINANCES, FAITH, FITNESS, FUN (yes, I have goals for having fun), HEALTH, GROWTH
  • Under one of these categories, just think of some area that you’d like to grow in. Common goals tend to be around health and fitness this time of year, but yours could be spending more time with your kids or getting out of debt or organizing your sock drawer (trust me, I’ve seen it… actually, might be too big a goal at this point ūüôā
  • Now, for the tricky part. Set a goal only for this next month that is achievable. You need a win in this area, some encouragement. Something to stretch you but that can get you on track.
  • Then, either at the end of the month (or earlier if you’re feeling good), bump the bar up. Make that the new goal.
  • Track your progress

You can write these goals on paper and tape them up on your mirror to see every morning. Or create a spreadsheet with daily boxes you can check off (for something like drinking 3 glasses of water each day or running 2 miles or cutting down on your screen time).

I love to have something to check off, to keep it visual. But do what’s going to work for you.

And to make it even better, find ways to reward yourself or congratulate yourself. That could be buying yourself a little gift or doing something special. Anything like that.

So, I’d love to know your goal-keeping secrets.

What have you found to work best for you? And what are some of your goals for this year?

Let me know in the comments below…


One Thing Scares Me About Heaven (And Why It Shouldn’t)

One Thing Scares Me About Heaven (And Why It Shouldn’t)

Heaven is going to be awesome.

Golden streets… with no potholes or orange barrels.

No more tears or pain (which probably means that some of my favorite local sports teams either won’t be there or that they’ll just be a lot better).

Reunited with those we’ve lost. I imagine the joy of those first embraces with ones who have left this life before us.

Beauty beyond imagination. Mountains, streams, brilliant skies, rainbows.

Bacon. I’m absolutely certain that there will be bacon. I mean, why wouldn’t there be? Seriously, there will be bacon… right?

At home with my God. No more separation or things pulling my heart from being wholly connected to Him. At peace. Fully loved.

Everything about Heaven gets me excited… except one thing.


Yep. I’m not sure why, but every time I start thinking about what happens after this life, the same thing happens.

I daydream about all the joys of Heaven and how we’ll be able to enjoy them… forever.

That last part always hangs me up.

I’m good until I think about the fact that there’s no end.

I know it shouldn’t bother me.

I mean, imagining an eternity where my Cleveland Browns won the Heavenly Super Bowl almost every year (come on, if they didn’t lose it every now and then the luster would wear off) seems pretty awesome.

But it’s like my brain tries to open the “eternity” app in my mind and just sits there with the hourglass spinning.

Maybe it’s how we’re wired

When it comes to my fear of eternity, I think it comes down to how we’re wired and what we’ve always known.

Whether we realize it or not, we’re prisoners of the finite. We live by calendars, by what’s “next”, schedules, planners, reminders.

“What’s coming up next week?”

“When is Easter this year?”

“How old are you?”

“Do you have a few minutes to talk?”

Everything we’ve ever known comes down to a reality ruled by the second hand.

Even as you read this, minutes (because you’ve actually been savoring each word, right ūüôā ) okay, precious seconds have gone by you won’t get back.

And even as your eyes jump from word to word, you’re thinking about what’s coming up today, tomorrow, next week.

We’re wired that way. To understand life within the bounds of time.


I’ve come to realize for me, what it comes down to is trust.

Just like so many other things in life, I believe this is an area where God is asking me to just trust him.

It’s as if He’s saying “I know you don’t understand now, but when I make all things new your mind will instantly switch over and you’ll get it”

If you went back 2000 years and cautioned Jesus’ disciples to not tweet out things on the interwebs they would regret tomorrow, they would just stare back at you.

The number of things you’d have to walk with them through to get them to understand would be mind-blowing (electricity, computers, phones, selfies, Twitter, Kardashians, and on an on).

They just wouldn’t get it. Their minds wouldn’t be able to comprehend.

And I think it’s the same with me and eternity.

I know my mind can’t handle it right now. It just short circuits with “but what happens next?” questions that freeze it up.

And while the concept of an All You Can Enjoy Forever Heaven Buffet sounds amazing, my engineering mind is wired to understand, to open up the box, look behind the curtain. I want to know how it works.

But for now, I know I won’t be able to.

And I’m okay with that… most days.

I can’t wait

All of that being said, I still daydream.

I dream about the day when God will make transormation in my brain.

When the light will come on inside and I will finally get it.

When I will realize I had nothing to be afraid of… and can begin to enjoy what I was truly created for… what all of us were truly created for.

An eternity with a God who created us and has been waiting to restore things to how they were meant to be.

Free of sin, selfishness, pain, hatred, loss, frustration, disappointment, separation.

An eternity to enjoy the pleasures of a new world with the One who loves us most.

I can’t wait.


What about you? Do you ever think about Heaven? Share below in the comments…


An Unexpected Journey – Our Story Of Hope

An Unexpected Journey – Our Story Of Hope

“Who’s the extra place at the table for?” our boys asked

“A new Washburn,” we replied as they all stared back with jaws dropped.

four pairs of shoes

That was a conversation that happened at our dinner table a few years back when we announced that someone new was joining our family.

Little did they know that their world of dirt, Legos, and Nerf swords would soon be invaded by pink, princesses, and braids.

Tough Beginnings

Some people close to us might know that Janette and I had our share of issues when it came to having children.

Before our oldest was born, we dealt with several years of struggle and heartache, infertility and miscarriages.

Like many others who have walked that road, it was a struggle for both of us and a test of our faith.

Many prayers were prayed, asking why, asking God to bless us with a child and to walk with us during that dry time.

In the middle of it, we really didn’t know what the future would hold.

Along Came Baby

Then, like had happened before, we found out Janette was pregnant again.

Of course, given our history, it was hard to really get excited until the pregnancy was farther along.

In the back of our minds there was still a nagging thought that it wouldn’t last.

Would this one end like the others? We weren’t sure.¬†

But, by God’s mercy, she¬†went full term and we welcomed our firstborn into the world… a boy.

It was a truly amazing experience, especially considering where we were coming from.

One Two Three

Then, as if the fertility floodgates had opened wide, the next three years brought two more boys into our fold.

We found ourselves with three boys in diapers, making quite long days for Janette, trying to keep up with them and their collective craziness.

She did an amazing job, as if she was designed to be a boy mom.

We felt very blessed to not only have one child, but to have three healthy young boys at home.

And yet, after our youngest son was born, we still felt that we weren’t done yet. We had prayed about it and really felt like we were supposed to have at least one more.

But something had changed

I’m not sure what happened, but just as quickly as we had gone from years of drought to years of plenty… the tables turned again.

We began to stare months and months of disappointment in the face. It was so confusing to us.

And yet at the same time, it made me stand even more in awe of our Creator and to respect the miracle of life.

At one point, when we had been married for fifteen years, my wife realized that we had spent half of them dealing with these issues.

Why is it so easy for some to have children and not others? Why did we go from drought to babies to nothing again? I didn’t have any answers.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

We continued to feel like God was speaking to us through various signs along the way. From generic things like continuing to receive baby formula coupons several years after our last child to other, crazier signs.

One night, when stopped at a stop sign, I saw three little deer cross the street, one after another. Then, right as I was about to take off, here came another one running across.

Janette had similar experiences, such as people she knew casually¬†telling her things like “You have four kids, right?”

It was those signs that kept it in our minds that maybe God still had something in store for us.

And yet, the years began to tick along with nothing more happening. Were we just imagining things or was this something that God still planned to do? We wanted to trust Him either way.

I’m thankful for the many who prayed with us, for us, and over us during those times.¬†I know that God heard each word

Never doubt

Years had passed. We found ourselves eight years removed from bringing home our youngest son. We had settled into life with our three boys and loved our family dynamics.

It was then that God decided that it was time for that next chapter He had hinted at.

One night Janette took a test. I asked her what it said.

Her response: “You’d better finish off our attic because we’re going to need some more space”

After that long drought, Janette was indeed pregnant again. We had such mixed emotions.

This is what we had felt He was leading us towards over all those years and yet we were pretty comfortable with our family of five. Were we ready for all of that to change?

Well, when God changes things up, He does it big. Not only were we adding a fourth, it would be a girl… our first.

Here comes our princess

And so, five years ago we welcomed our long-promised precious baby girl into a family that didn’t know we were missing her until she arrived.

Now, we can’t imagine life without her spunky little personality, bracelets and necklaces, and beautiful smile.

Our boys, whose jaws dropped when they found out they were getting a sibling, now love playing with her, helping her build lego creations, and teaching her how to properly handle a Nerf sword and a football.

That fourth little deer that had made its way in front of my car all of those years before… has now made its way into my heart.

Now it’s hard to remember life without her. She has so filled our life with joy and is a constant reminder…to never give up.