Sustainable, Lasting, and Life-Giving Goals Are:
  • Rooted in your core calling
  • Organically growing out of your context
  • Outlined for clarity
  • Tailored to your lifestyle
  • Etched into your memory
  • Developed by Providence


Last week, we talked about how to start uncovering the soil of your core calling. Core calling goals resonate deeply, compel you to follow-through on them, and start bearing fruit immediately. The soil of your core calling forms a rich environment for setting sustainable, healthy goals that actually energize you.

Other goal setting systems tell you to close your eyes and imagine where you want to be in 5-10 years—to dream big!—then to reverse-engineer and hustle and grind to make that dream come true.

This system grounds you in reality by helping you figure out the logical next right step for your real life. It starts by embracing your starting point as valid, and then helping you figure out the next right step to take to move you closer to where you’re trying to go.

Step 2 of the ROOTED system is all about setting goals that are ‘Organically Growing Out of Your Context.’

Our culture is obsessed with setting wild, untethered goals that introduce crazy amounts of tension between your desire for change and the realities of your day-to-day life. You may have big dreams. But you are not “behind” on anything. You’re right where God wants you to be to take the best next step to where you’re meant to go.

But if you’re anything like I was at the beginning of my goal-setting journey, you feel like the chasm between these ideals and real life is impassable. When you feel this tension, it’s time to start finding your next-right-step goal.

You can begin to cultivate abundance, starting right where you are, today.

Let’s dig into your daily lived context, your current responsibilities, and the order of your priorities. By overlapping where you are right now with the unique giftings God has given you (which forms the soil you need to make sure your goals are Rooted in Your Core Calling—step 1 of the system), we will be able to begin identifying the immediate goals you can set that will help you really move the needle forward in the essential areas of your life.

Your Starting Place is Valid 

As I’ve studied my life and others’, I’ve come to identify three seasons of our productive lives. Great “next-right-thing” goals come from identifying what season you’re in, and then asking, “What’s the single most impactful thing I can do to cultivate abundance in my life, where I am, right now?” Let’s parse through the three seasons of our productive lives, and I’ll show you the types of goals I’ve focused on to bring stability and make more space to thrive in my context.

Are you surviving?

Survival seasons are common and can arise in a flash, in even the most intentional of lifestyles. They can last a day, weeks, months, and (in the most of difficult cases) even years. It’s important to remember that, while there are almost always lessons to be learned, survival seasons are not always a result of one’s own personal failings. Survival mode does not mark a wasted period of life.

Often, the survival mode elements are there precisely because you are being forced to tend to extremely important things even at the cost of a steady pace and ample relaxation.

The key, though, is to recognize the survival mode season early, accept the reality of it, seek clarity about what’s at the root of it, give yourself grace, say no to false guilt and shame, and then stay alert to the inner nudges that say, “alright, it’s time to get creative and take some control of the chaos.” The goals you’ll set in a survival season should be focused on getting out of survival mode.

I’ve found the best success in getting out of survival mode with these three goals:

  1. starting the habit goal of carving out daily quiet time to prayerfully use my planner and read/listen to the Scriptures
  2. ruthlessly purging my home, wardrobe, workspaces, and digital channels so that only the minimal life-giving essentials remain
  3. getting disciplined about my sleep, nourishment, and hydration

Are you reviving?

The reviving season begins when you let that desire to bring your leadership into the chaos really get ahold of you and empower you to make some hard choices.

The process of reviving is marked by organizing all of the expectations on your plate, getting real about your personal limitations, purging non-essential stressors and time-wasters, setting healthy boundaries, implementing efficiency systems for the routine things you have to maintain, and finding ways to make life-giving space for your most essential goals and dreams.

You can kickstart a reviving season simply by making space every single day to get still and organize your thoughts. A planner the is the perfect tool around which to build this type of revitalizing daily habit. By setting strategic goals in your revival season, you can make space to thrive faster than you might realize.

Here are some reviving goals to pursue in addition to maintaining the goals that got you out of survival mode:

  1. create a solid anchor point in your day/week to prioritize an essential lifestyle change
  2. create solid anchor points in your day/week to invest deeply in each of your closest relationships
  3. make space every day to brainstorm about that one thing you can’t get off your heart that you think would bring needed relief and cultivate abundance in your life in a massive way

Continue this, until anchored habits become rhythms, and you begin to get a real sense of clarity around what’s essential.​​

Are you thriving?

When you set out to make space to thrive, over and over again, one day you’ll look up and your breath will catch as you realize that you finally are. 

Seasons of really thriving come from having mental clarity and feeling organized about your tasks, responsibilities, commitments, and goals—and then feeling that each one of those things that you’re doing resonate deeply with who you were created to be (there’s that core calling again).

Thriving comes from a life focused on the life-giving essentials, with increasing volumes of non-essential preoccupations falling off the edges of your radar. Thriving comes with strong rhythms and habits and boundaries that string together to automate an exceptional, purpose-filled lifestyle—a lifestyle that’s been crafted with ample margin for flexibility, creativity, relationships, and growth.

The goals you begin to set from this season’s vantage point will start to feel intuitive and deeply personal. You may also start to realize you’re working through the goals you set at an increasing pace. You will feel compelled to cultivate abundance in new ways. That itch will propel you forward—even inviting you to risk some of the balance you’ve achieved as you stretch to grow.

Some of these risks may even introduce a new survival mode season: but you’ve learned how to reign in seasons like those to be only as long as necessary (and not a day longer). As you struggle and your skills increase, you’ll find yourself in another revival period until you find your equilibrium again and, thriving, your capacity expands further. On and on, higher and higher, climbing through the execution of your goals as you build a life of intention, abundance, and generosity.​

Identifying Your Priorities

One of the most frequent questions we get is this: “There are SO MANY THINGS to do. How do I even know what my priorities are? Where do I start?”

This question is at the core of discerning your next-right-step goal. I spun my wheels in that question for several months until I outright asked a mentor to help me figure them out. He answered by drawing several concentric circles and told me that my priorities should be chiefly informed by my expanding circles of influence.

The place where I had the most responsibilities (i.e. my own household and work) was the place where I also had the most influence. If I concentrated on fulfilling my responsibilities, I would strengthen my core circle so much that I could begin to build on it. If I wanted to have my priorities straight and build sustainable influence, I needed to start from the core and work my way out.

The furthest-from-the-core circle was where national and global acquaintances and politics lay. He pointed out that I had no influence in that circle, because I hadn’t built up from the core to the point where I’d reached that level of influence—and that even if I did, it would be very diluted compared to the influence I’d have closer to home.

Everything he said made so much sense —and I immediately felt embarrassed about the hours upon hours I was wasting on the internet trying to mediate relationships between bickering online friends that were scattered across the globe, trying to change the minds of perfect strangers on matters of public policy, or secretly hoping I might get a dozen more strangers on the internet to follow my Instagram that day.

My influence with any of these people was petty at best. I had to reframe my entire approach to my schedule so that my efforts matched my responsibilities and my real life opportunities to make a positive impact.

It’s easy to let all our goals focus on the fourth and fifth circles, but when we get still, real, and focused, a lot of us have to admit that most of the critical work we have to do lies in the core of this circle.

How This Helps You Form Strong Goals

So now you have the exciting task of finding the overlap between your core calling goals (your beckoning future), your starting point (survival mode, reviving, or thriving), and your deepest priorities. This intersection is the best place to find goals that are organically growing out of your context—goals that make sense for you, where you are, today, and that act as a bridge to help you get to the next level.

Here’s a question to ask yourself that summarizes everything: “What can I do to really move the needle forward in cultivating communion and abundance in a way that aligns with both my truest priorities and my core calling?”

There is always a way to move forward on the unique work God has given us to do in this world while strongly prioritizing the people He’s given us to care for. In fact, it’s impossible to move forward with integrity in your core calling if you don’t honor your God-given priorities (seeking Him, the discipline of self-care, faithfulness in your home and work, etc.).

And goals that are life-giving and ethical are always built from a place of integrity.

Recognizing the season you’re in, identifying the contours of your priorities, and aligning your next right steps with your core calling will be a considerable undertaking. It’ll also be highly personalized.

Thankfully, our ROOTED Goals Workbook was designed to help you think through your life, and find the answers to all of these questions.

So what might be your next-right-step in light of the your real life context?