Confession: I’m kind of a goal freak. This probably stems from my (sometimes unhealthy) love of competition. I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from achieving goals. I love beating whatever time frame I set, I love the challenge, the endurance and determination it takes. Over the years though, I've learned that although I can easily set and achieve goals that it doesn't necessarily have any long term outcome (building new habits, lifestyle changes, etc.), it was just more of a game for me. Goals were great, but once they were achieved it was on to the next thing for me. There was a class at Master’s where we learned a lot of valuable things about goals, and I would like to share some of the things I learned with you in hopes of spurring you on toward achieving the goals or resolutions you have set for 2012!
One thing to be mindful of before setting goals, is that they should reflect our priorities (those things, activities, and responsibilities only you can take care of), which helps you limit what you feel like you have to take on. Priorities change based on your season of life. Do you know what your priorities are right now? Here are a few that might make your list: relationship with God, husband and children, managing your home, caring for aging parents, work obligations, school, health and fitness. Make a list of your priorities and set your goals from there. This gives you a broad picture of what you want your life to look like and then you can create specific goals to support your priorities. Another helpful thing is to create from your priorities a life mission statement. A few years back I made this mission statement from some of my favorite verses: Philippians 1:27; 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:23.
“Whatever happens in my life, I want to conduct myself in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27). No matter where God calls me, or what He asks me to do, I want to do everything with all my heart, as unto the Lord. I will do all my work with excellence, regardless of what that work may be, that I might honor God and bring glory to His name in everything I say and do however great or small.”
Sometimes we feel like our goals smack us in the behind, but this rarely happens when we SMAC them first! When setting goals make sure they are:
S: Specific – Many goals fail because they lack detail.
M: Measurable – How will you measure your progress? Come up with short range, intermediate and long range plans of how you will measure your progress.
A: Achievable – Sometimes goals fail because they are simply not realistic. We must remember that our time, energy and resources are limited.
C: Compatible – They must be compatible with all your current obligations and responsibilities in life.
One of the most important things I have learned (the hard way) is to be realistic when making goals. I tend to get excited and think that I can do way more than I actually can, then I get discouraged when I fail or I achieve the goal at the expense of other things I shouldn’t have let go. Take the time now to adjust your goals and make your expectations realistic!
Be prayerful in what goals you set, and consider the following scriptural principles related to setting goals:
- The most important thing for the Christian goal setter to keep in mind is that his/her relationship with Christ must come first (Exodus 20:3). Although goals are good, when we put them above our relationship with the Lord we are making them idols and breaking the first commandment (Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller is an excellent read on this topic).
- Pray for wisdom and discernment (James 1:5) regarding what your goals should be and how you will accomplish them.
- Spend time in God’s word looking for principles that apply to a goal that you are considering setting (Psalm 119:24).
- Get counsel from godly people who know you and whom you trust (Proverbs 15:22).
- Once you have goals set, grow in the character qualities of perseverance and determination to accomplish that goal and remember that only through relying on Him can we achieve our goals (1 Chronicles 16:11; Matthew 19:26; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, 15:58; Galatians 6:9, Colossians 1:10, 3:23).