Once I've made an internal assessment of my goals at the highest level (What do I want? What must I do? How will I do it?) I start trying to break it down. Several years ago I stole a page from Steven Covey's First Things First and made goals for every role in my life. It's a good way to make sure no important aspect of your life gets neglected. The primary roles of my life are, in order of importance:
Father. Dr. Laura's formulation holds true for me: "I am my kids' dad." Most of my life's obligations emerge from that commitment.
Husband. Marriage is, as Augie Turak said, "living by committee." My relationship with my wife is my number one working relationship; I have to be sure it's effective. I need to make sure she has what she needs from me; I need to be sure she knows what I need from her.
Worker. My obligations to my employer, my co-workers, and my customers.
Writer. My obligations to my current and future audience, and myself.
Community Member. My primary community right now is the Emerson Waldorf School, though I still have ties in the extended spiritual community of the Self Knowledge Symposium.
Primate. That is, my relationship with my own body: sleep, diet, exercise, sexuality, health, and anything else that contributes to making me a happy animal.
You might ask, "Where is God in this list? Doesn't spirituality deserve a slot?" Ah, excellent question. I don't have an entirely satisfactory answer. I would like to be smugly pious and say, "God is my number one priority," but that wouldn't really be true. I don't have a relationship with God. God is behind a "cloud of unknowing". To the degree I understand what God wants for my life, it manifests in all the roles listed above. To the degree I don't know what God wants, I look for the answers in these roles. More than ever, I have come to believe in Augie Turak's vision of spiritual life: there is no spiritual life, apart from the life you lead. Spirituality cannot be compartmentalized away from everything else in your life. Your day-to-day life is your spiritual life. (I know that some people have specific spiritual practices, especially meditation, that are supposedly 100% spiritual, and which can in theory be compartmentalized from the rest of your life. I am not one of those people. Once I was, now I'm not. Maybe some day I will be again.)
The other thing that is slightly shocking about this list is that my explicit goals were mostly about the bottom of the list, and not the top. I have lots of specific goals about my health, my work in the community, my writing and job obligations . . . but I had given almost no thought at all to questions such as, "How will I be better father this year?" or "What do I need to do to help my wife reach her goals?" Hmmm . . .