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…


18 Thoughts For My Son On His 18th Birthday

18 Thoughts For My Son On His 18th Birthday

Today my son Eli turned 18.

Even as I type this, it’s hard for me to grasp.

It seems just yesterday I was scared to death as we left the hospital and I wondered if I would have what it took to take care of this precious little human.

He’s the one who first gave me the title “dad” and I’ve watched him pave the way over the years, as we’ve added two more sons and a daughter to the mix behind him.

I watched him learn to say “NO” (pretty easily), learn to walk (not as easily), and learn to laugh (a lot).

And yet it seems like I blinked and my little dude holding his favorite stuffed dog as he drifts off to sleep has turned into a grown man who is bigger and stronger than I am (I’m still trying to hold on to the smarter category…).

As this day has been approaching, there have been so many thoughts in my head, so much I want him know as I can feel the next chapter coming on him quickly.

And though I’ll never be able to get it all down in a post like this, I thought I’d at least give it a try.

So, here are 18 Thoughts For My Son On His 18th Birthday:

I love you

Maybe you won’t ever truly understand the depth of this until you’re a father as well, but I love you deeply and would do anything for you.

Being your dad is one of the highlights of my life and I’m so blessed to be able to call you my son. Know that whatever happens in your life, I’m here for you, I am for you, and I love you.


I’m proud of you

As I see the man that God is growing you into, I’m thankful to have been able to play a small part in that but know that it is God who has made you into the leader that I see before me.

I’m proud of the way you live your life, how you inspire and share with others, care for those around you and pursue life with a passion. Your smile is a reflection of the the big heart that is inside.


I pray for you

One thing I’ve learned is that God not only knows you better than I ever will but He also has the power to be what you need in your life. The more I’ve felt inadequate over the years as your dad, the more I’ve been reminded that pray is my first priority with you.

God knows what you need and the plans he has for you. My role is to pray for you, love you well, and trust Him with you. I pray that you will trust Him as well.


Use your gifts

God designed you uniquely with things you do well. Take advantage of those and use them wisely and often. When you do, you’ll be energized and will know that you are doing what you were meant to do.

Your gifts are God’s unique investment in you. He loves to see you using those both to enjoy life and to pour out into others.


Love others well

You’ll never regret the investments you’ll make in others. Look for ways to lift others up, go the extra mile, and defend those who can’t defend themselves. Speak words of life and encouragement to ears that desperately need to hear them and offer your time, energy and heart to a world that is hurting.

I already see this in you and get excited for the lives you’ll impact in the future.


Have fun

One of my favorite things as a dad is to watch you enjoying life. Whether it’s watching you hit a jumper in basketball, spike a volleyball or down a box of mac-n-cheese in one sitting, you make life fun. Continue to pursue things that you enjoy and have fun with those around you.

Live life to the fullest and bring others along with you.


Go make a difference

You aren’t here by accident. God has so much in store for you. New stories to tell, places to discover, memories to make. Along the way, make your mark and make a difference. Whether in big ways or small, the lives you impact will cause a chain reaction.


Don’t give up

Life can be hard. You’ll face setbacks, disappointments, pain, frustration, depression. There will be times when you want to give up, when you don’t feel like it’s worth it. Don’t give up. Press through.

Trust that each day brings a new hope and often the breakthrough is just on the other side of the wall. It will be worth it. Don’t stop.


Do life with people who appreciate you

Life is too short to invest it in relationships with people who don’t get you or are secretly out to tear you down. You are worth more than that. Find those people who understand you, who encourage your passions and celebrate you. And who are willing to tell you truth when you need it as well.

Let them into your life and trust their wisdom and thoughts, both in their encouragement and in their constructive criticism.


Take risks

As you go through life, you’ll be presented with countless opportunities. And usually there will be a safe option and a riskier option. Make sure to do your homework to weigh them both out and know what you’re up against.

And whenever you can, take a risk. It will be stepping into the unknown and maybe you’ll fail. But be willing to take a chance and go for it.


Be approachable

Be someone that listens, takes comments to heart and is approachable. There’s always something you can learn, whether from those closest to you or from those who don’t like you. It starts with a heart that is open and transparent.

You will be able to learn and grow so much when people feel like that can come to you and share what’s on their heart.


Ask for help

Be honest with yourself and be willing to ask for help when you need it. I’ve often struggled with this and carried burdens that I didn’t need to carry. Give others the opportunity to pour into your life, to lend a hand or a word of encouragement.

True strength comes from knowing that you can’t do it all on your own. You need others in your life.


Live full out

One thing that I’ve always admired about you is how you live life full out. When there’s something that you’re passionate about, you go after it with everything you have. Never lose that. As your passions change and life turns pages, continue to follow your heart and pour yourself into what you love.

Not only will you enjoy those things, but you’ll help others to enjoy them as well.


Love yourself

This may sound strange, but don’t beat yourself up. There will be plenty of times that you’ll be disappointed in yourself, doubt your worth, get frustrated or wonder if things will ever change or even if God can forgive you for something. Be willing to listen to His words and love yourself.

When you love yourself and value yourself, only then will you be able to fully love others as well. God’s love for you is deep and unconditional.


Take time to rest

Sometimes, in the busyness of life, you may find yourself running ragged, pulled in many different directions. Know that God designed us to rest, to refresh, to recharge. Allow yourself to do that. Maybe it means getting away by yourself, relaxing, unplugging.

Trust yourself and fight for the rest that you need. It will help equip you to be your best.


Laugh often

This one shouldn’t be hard for you as one of your trademarks is your smile and your laughter. Never lose these. When you laugh, it’s infectious. Even if I’m having a rough day, your laughter has a way of lightening my load and I know it does this for others as well.

Your laughter is a gift to others in many ways, a powerful medicine that can brighten a day or bring joy to a heart.


Trust your gut

Life will throw you curve balls and there will be times when you just don’t know what to do. Take time to think through, get wise counsel from others and pray. But in the end, trust your gut.

More often than not, you know the right decision. Be willing to go with it and not second guess yourself.


Trust God

When it comes down to it, you are here because God put you here. He created you. You were His idea, His unique design. He takes pleasure in you, delights in you and has plans for you.

Don’t wait until you don’t know what to do to reach out to Him. Instead, keep short accounts with Him. Make Him a part of your joys as well as your trials.

Trust Him with your future, with your career, family, friends, plans, goals, dreams, setbacks, disappointments.

Trust Him with everything. He knows and He cares.


Eli, I’m so proud of the man God is molding you into and thankful to celebrate with you today as you take one more step into manhood.

Go take hold of life and live it to the fullest. I love you.


18 Thoughts For My Son On His 18th Birthday

The Cute Moment That Choked Me Up The Other Night

The other night, something choked me up.

I was working downstairs and listening as my oldest son Eli and my daughter Eden played above me.

Eli is a senior in high school and Eden is in first grade. Yes, there’s so much more to that story (and kids in between), but that will come later.

As I listened to them wrestling around and having a tickle fight, Eden’s squeals were resonating through our hardwood floors (everything resonates through our floors ūüôā ), and I could hear the joy in her voice as they went back and forth.

I laughed as she kept switching between “Stop, stop!” and “Tickle me, tickle me!”

I love that they have that kind of relationship and I especially love Eli’s heart and the kind of brother that he is to Eden. I know she looks up to him in so many ways and treasures her time with him.

Good stuff

All good stuff. Right?

It’s what you want as a parent. Your kids enjoying each other, getting along, having fun.

But what got me was the ominous thought that Eden doesn’t fully realize that the current state of things will only be around for so long.

She has three brothers in high school, with Eli being a senior.

Change is on the horizon and the family dynamic will begin to change in the years to come.

I got choked up because I realize the gravity of that. I realize that our boys are getting older and will soon be venturing out into whatever God has in store for them next.

I’m excited for them and I know their lives have been leading up to this. They were¬†meant¬†for this. Meant to leave the nest.

I know as a parent this has been what we’ve been pouring into them for, preparing them for.

Change is Inevitable

I got choked up because, though I know change is inevitable and often brings new opportunities, it’s still hard for me to think about letting go of this snapshot of our lives right now.

That night, in that moment, everything in me wanted to just freeze time, to not let it end.

Everything in me wanted to hold on tighter.

I got choked up because of how God can remind us how we’re blessed, even when we feel like we’ve blown it or are struggling.

Honestly, as I worked downstairs, I was dealing with a lot of negative thoughts swirling around in my mind… who I was as a father among those.

Hearing the laughter from above reminded me that things were OK, that we’ve got good kids and the seeds of love planted over the years have sprouted up (and continue to keep sprouting bigger and bigger when it comes to our teens ūüôā ).

I smiled as my heart turned to thankfulness for what God had brought about.

Yes, things are going to change sooner than I’d like. And yes, Eden’s world will be different when they do.

But I’m ready to step into that new stage when it comes… in time.

For now, I’m savoring the Eden giggles and her time with our “bigs” as they navigate the high school years.

We’re blessed.


What about you? Are you able to savor those moments well while not thinking ahead? 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.