Setting Deployment Goals that Stick

Some of us write them down.  Some of us tell a friend.  Some of us secretly whisper them to ourselves in bed before we fall asleep, knowing that we’re never actually going to act on them… but the reality is that every Military Spouse does it during a deployment… GOAL SETTING.

I remember the long list of “to-do” items I created for myself during my husband’s first deployment.  Some completely personal (lose 10 pounds), some totally logistical (redecorate the bedroom) and some absolutely random (finally figure out how to use chopsticks… why?).

Whether you write your goals on a list or in your heart, a deployment just seems like the perfect time to finally do that one thing you’ve been dreaming of.  Unfortunately, even if you’re completely motivated or perfectly organized, there’s one surefire way not to meet your deployment goals… set terrible goals for deployment.

Here are our top four ways to set GREAT goals that you’ll actually accomplish!!



There’s this really important thing about goals… we need to know when we’ve reached them!  One no-fail way to kill a goal is to never give yourself a chance to meet it- and if you haven’t made your goals measurable you’ll never actually know when you’re there.

Think about the difference between these two goals:
“I’m going to read more often”
“I’m going to read 10 books before the end of my husband’s deployment”

Reading “more often” is squishy, it’s difficult to define, and everyone gets to have their own opinion about what it means.  Sure, I “read more often”- I spent an extra hour on Facebook every day and read twice as many status updates as I usually do!   With an immeasurable goal, it’s impossible to know whether you’re winning or losing.  You can’t see your own progress, and you never get to actually celebrate when you’ve made it to the finish line.

Reading “10 books before the end of my husband’s deployment” is clear.  You know exactly what you’re doing (reading books), how much of it (10), and when you’ll finish (before the end of the deployment).  Which means you get to celebrate your big win!


Close your eyes.  Imagine that you’ve met whatever goal you’ve set for yourself during this deployment…  completing that degree, running that marathon, knitting that scarf.  How do you feel?  If you’re not smiling from ear-to-ear then it’s time to take an honest look at whether your goal packs enough punch.

Goals, by their very nature, take determination to complete- otherwise, they wouldn’t be goals, they would just be things that we do (like crushing an entire season of OITNB on Netflix… no determination necessary!).  When we set out to accomplish something new, we know that that work we do to get there might be boring- we might force ourselves to get up early, or to spend hours practicing- but the goal itself, the final results, must be absolutely THRILLING.  Our outcome, the way that we feel about ourselves once we’ve met our goals- must be worth all of the efforts we’re putting in… and if it’s not, we’re incredibly unlikely to put in that effort in the first place.


Want to know one of the worst times to make a decision?  When you’ve got two broken appliances, one sick child, and a three-page to-do list during deployment.  Each of us makes around 35,000 decisions a day, and our brains are great at helping us avoid making a decision if it isn’t critical- so our goals need to be SPECIFIC.

If you want to cook dinner 5 nights a week, decide what that actually means for you.  Will you commit to cooking from scratch?  Will you allow for some boxed/prepared meals?  Does cooking mean that the stove or oven needs to turn on at some point, or is cereal ok?  Decide on these questions in advance- not when your brain has already made 35,000 decisions- or you might find yourself wondering whether ordering pizza “counts” as cooking!



You know, I would love to learn a new language while my husband is away at training for two months.  And maybe, if I quit my job, moved to a new country and spoke only the native language, I could do that… but it’s probably not very realistic.

Setting big, juicy goals is beautiful!  You WILL surprise yourself when you do it.  So, setting realistic goals does not mean thinking small- but it does mean thinking.  Consider your timeline, daily responsibilities, and resources before you set goals for this season of deployment, then adjust accordingly.

Maybe you’d like to save $20,000 during a year-long deployment- fantastic!  But, if you know that after paying the bills you’ve only got $600 left each month, you might need to adjust.  Maybe that means adjusting your expenses- but it also might mean adjusting your goal, or setting a mini-goal.  Think BIG, and set goals that you know you can CELEBRATE!

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