Roles and Goals {The Grove: Role}

The posts this week cut to the chase, don’t they? Women telling different stories, drawing different conclusions, and yet there is harmony. Every one lunges for Jesus. Every one insists that communion at his table is vital to cope with the clamor aimed at our roles, including the onerous cacophony in our own heads.

Now, let’s not make the mistake of holding this lovely truth in tender sentiment. Let’s spill our favorite materials on the table and craft. My medium is the notes app on my iPhone and two thumbs.

I attended a workshop years ago that was a catalyst for a new way of thinking, of honing. It’s called Roles and Goals led by a duo of intentional live-ers, John and Sunny. Sunny is here today to guide us.


I want to live intentionally. Isn’t that why John and I sold all and moved to the other side of earth more than a decade ago? Unfortunately, my weaknesses got packed up in my suitcase along with all that extra deodorant and crossed the international borders with me. I’m prone to procrastination, distraction, lack of consistency, and struggle with planning ahead and finishing all those wonderful ideas I plunge myself into with great intention. When I’m stressed and overcommitted, my paper piles and inbox multiply like mosquitos in hot, humid air.

All my weaknesses came to a crisis point when I became pregnant with my firstborn. I was thrilled and excited to be a new mom, and in my naivety, thought I was going to find the perfect balance between mommyhood and cross-cultural work. HA! I was facing a major role change and even greater life-style change, from full-time teacher and critical team participant to full-time mom. No longer would my time be practically scheduled for me by my school and by my highly structured team.

That’s when I began to consider roles and goals as a big part of managing life. It’s a way of thinking that I still use today.

Identifying my roles

I start off by looking at the various roles I have in my season of life. First and foremost I am a daughter of the King. This is my primary identity and does not change with life’s seasons. Then I am wife, mom, employee, teammate, family-member, etc. Some of these roles rarely change, but others are likely to change in the midst of transition.

[Kim here: I select no more than five roles. If I can’t whittle it down that far, I’ve got pruning to do.]

Identifying an overarching vision

I think in big picture ideas, so identifying an overarching vision is fun for me. This vision is my “life goal.” It capsulizes what I am all about, and what I want my life to represent. While I have adapted it through the years, this generally stays the same from season to season.

Identifying specific goals and action steps

I look at each of my roles and think through 1-3 goals for each role. Writing too many goals is ineffective and overwhelming. The point is to focus. Each of my goals fit generally in line with my overarching vision, or I hope they will keep me heading in that direction.

The bottom line is to make them specific and measurable. For example, “Help my daughter develop more local friends” is one of my mom role goals for this year. A detailed action step is to, “take her outside on the playground to play every Saturday when kids her age are playing.” A second action step is to “enlist my daughter’s language tutor to give her the necessary vocab and culture tips to make new friends.”

A note to those that hate goals and have probably written me off already just by using the word – we do not find our identity or lack of identity in what we accomplish or don’t accomplish. The point is not to reach every goal. Gasp! In fact, you probably won’t. The point is to aim at something worth aiming at.

Weekly schedule

Now that I have my goals and action steps, I can fit those pieces into a weekly schedule. Before I let life dictate what my schedule will be, and I start reacting impulsively to things, I put in the priority items or the things that cannot shift based on my goals or circumstances. I schedule in that afternoon playtime with my daughter on Saturdays. My weekly schedule starts to reflect the things that are most important to me. When demands for my time come my way, I know what to say no to and what to say yes to. Practically, I like using Google calendar to enter in my schedule.

Evaluating and planning

In my weekly schedule, I include a time for planning and reflection. Right now I have an afternoon slot where I pray for the upcoming week, ask for His guidance, and evaluate what happened the week before. Depending on my son’s naptime, I may or may not make it through everything, but at least I took a little time to see how things are going.

Then about once a month, I take a half-day away. This time is usually spent in prayer and in the Word, resting and evaluating. I might pull out my goals and action steps and check-in. I might need to adapt some action steps because they are no longer realistic or relevant.

John has a really cool evaluation form he created on his computer. I sometimes steal his form. I often go old-school with my journal and pen. I like reflecting and strategizing, so this is where my strengths come to the surface.

Get real!

Ok, let me be fully blunt and honest. I have a lot of unfinished drafts in my roles and goals folder. A couple weeks ago I started one and realized it had been about a year since I created the last one (which I didn’t finish typing-up!), and hadn’t looked at it much since then. Yup, I still don’t have it all together. That wasn’t really the goal anyway. I’ve been doing this long enough that it is now a natural way of thinking and living intentionally, of being proactive–not reactive–in light of my greater vision.

Which part of Roles and Goals appeals to you?


Does a half-day retreat sound like something you’re needing?  Time to rest, and be in the Word and evaluate?   Velvet Ashes is crafting a retreat like this just for you, right where you are!  No travel needed, just clear some space in your calendar anytime April 17-19 and find a place to slip away.  We’ve  just opened registration and we’re so excited to see ladies signing up from all over the world.

We’re all ready for some renewal.

Come check it out and join us here:   And help us spread the word by sharing the link and #VelvetAshesRetreat.


This is what we call The Grove.  It’s where we all gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art on our weekly prompt.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions.


  1. Ruth March 19, 2015

    When I was reading _Burnout and Expectations_ one of the things that struck me was that so many of our expectations come from reading and hearing from other people for years before we arrive on the field.  I want to give the people that read my writing an accurate account of my life (maybe that’s one of my roles?).  And so I wrote this post as a way to explore some of the little things that add up to increase the level of stress in my life (and illustrated it with photos of flowering trees).

    1. Elizabeth March 20, 2015

      Ruth, I love the title! Those things really do add up, and before I moved overseas I might not have understood this. I would have listened to one of the stressors and thought it wasn’t that bad, or was silly, or something, and wondered why people were whining about it. Real nice of me, huh??

      Thankfully we went to a training that gave us the phrase “long-term unrelenting stress.” Long-term unrelenting stress. Yep. That explains it pretty well! I go back to that phrase a lot, but I really like this new phrase of yours, “Stress by 1000 paper cuts.” I think I will use it sometime soon 🙂

    2. Kimberly Todd March 20, 2015

      I don’t remember being aware of this concept until I moved back to my passport culture and began to learn about stress because I was, well, stressed. I think this can be really healthy, to acknowledge the paper cuts, because apparently minimizing stress compounds it. Mine has eased with time, yes, but especially with the intention to acknowledge that it is. Then I can lean into healthy ways to cope. Thanks for linking, Ruth!

    3. Sunny March 23, 2015

      Ruth, thanks for your thoughts.  My parents raised me in Mexico, and my dad used to say that it took twice as long to do half as much when living abroad!  These small things can definitely pile up and add stress.  There is a Chinese negotiating concept that is often referred to as “death by 1,000 cuts.”  I, too, have used this analogy to describe to friends and family back home that several of these little things may not seem like much, but after more than a decade of living with hundreds of these “cuts,” I have grown weary and tempted to lose heart.

  2. Monica March 20, 2015

    I really enjoyed this post and want to implement the action points above regarding roles and goals.  Thanks!

    1. Kimberly Todd March 20, 2015


    2. Sunny March 23, 2015

      Thanks Monica!

  3. Beth Everett March 20, 2015

    I appreciated this post too Kimberly. I’ve always enjoyed setting goals, even if they are not always met. This post prompted me to think through my roles as wife and mother, and to articulate what goals I have for myself and our family during this season of transition. It’s a good exercise to come back to and tweak, as we journey through life. Thanks!!

    1. Kimberly Todd March 20, 2015

      Cool! Many thanks to Sunny for sharing it with us.

    2. Sunny March 23, 2015

      Thanks Beth! Transition times can be so difficult. Hope this tool helps you think through this season!

  4. Elizabeth March 20, 2015

    Thank you for sharing these practical steps Kimberly! I especially appreciated the admonition to limit your roles to 5. I quickly counted off the most important roles I could think of and arrived at 5 right away! After Christ-follower, I’m a wife, mother/home educator, youth leader, team member/friend, and writer. Wow, I guess that means I’m done. Initially I hadn’t even expected to get to 5. (I think part of that is because many of those roles are home-based, so they bleed into each other and it’s hard to separate them.) Then I thought, oh, of course, that’s why these are the only things I can manage to get done. And sometimes can’t even manage to get all those things done the way I want — which is where the goals come in, right? 🙂 So that was really helpful.

    I’m linking up with something I wrote a couple summers ago that’s been one of my most viewed posts ever.. It’s not about the expectations others place on us, which has been some of the discussion this week. Rather, it’s about my own self-expectations — which can still be pretty brutal!

    1. Kimberly Todd March 20, 2015

      Oh, that perspective is such the point of this practice. Nothing that regularly requires our time/energy/intention is a back-burner task. They are our roles and setting goals is a way to grow into them. And I’m a huge fan of the slash roles (parent/home educator). I’m off to read your post!

      1. Sunny March 23, 2015

        I appreciated your added “5 roles” minimum comment, as well.  Maybe that will help me focus even more and finish writing down my goals this time around :).

  5. Kara Pyo March 20, 2015

    “The point is to aim at something worth aiming at.” Yes. Needed that reminder…off to jot some goals down right now.

    1. Kimberly Todd March 20, 2015

      That was a quote from John and Sunny that stuck with me, too. Hope your jotting is fruitful!

    2. Sunny March 23, 2015

      I’m so glad this was helpful!

  6. Lindsy Wallace March 21, 2015

    Kim + Sunny – Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m working through your list on a sunny Saturday afternoon and am especially struck by your advice Kim to stick to just five goals. Burnout in all of my roles is tied to having too many of them I know, and paring down is both difficult and necessary! Thanks for the structure I needed to really start pressing in on it!

    1. Kimberly Todd March 21, 2015

      It IS difficult, but I would so rather fill fewer roles with my whole heart than a lot of great roles half-heartedly. Hope your sunny Saturday afternoon was rejuvenating. Thanks for your comment!

    2. Sunny March 23, 2015

      Thanks Lindsy!

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