Ok, I admit it – I’m a goal setter. I was just made that way. It’s a natural part of my personal makeup. It’s not something that I have to struggle through like some of my friends. In fact, it’s something that I have to consciously not focus so much on at times. There are times when I have to take a deep breath, step back and realize that relationships are more important than “taking the next hill.” (Then, after a friendly talk over coffee, an hour hanging out in the office, or a handshake and hug – I go back to see where I am in the process of reaching the goal.)
But, not only am I a goal setter, I’m one of those persons who’s always looking for a better, more effective and efficient, way of setting and keeping the goals that I set for myself, my family and the church that I’ve been called to lead. Sometimes I’m looking for the newest, latest, best technological device to help me. (For example, I just bought, received and have set up my fitbit account and wristband to help me with some physical goals that I’m setting for myself in 2014.) Other times I’m looking for some little nugget of wisdom or advice from someone who has already successfully navigated the waters I’m currently charting a course through. Often I’m just wanting some encouragement to stick with the goals that have been set so that I don’t get discouraged (Those of us with a more prophetic makeup are prone to this, you know.) and miss out on the good things that come from achieving the BIG goals I felt led to set whenever it was (normally at the beginning of the new year or church year) that I set them.
The last week of the year is the time that I normally set aside to set my goals for the coming year. I know that there are probably some people, more OCD than even I am, that cringe at the thought of waiting so late to get started setting goals. But, in reality this is just the time I set aside to put them down on paper. I’ve been thinking about and mulling them over since September.
I know that there are many of you who may want to make some progress in 2014 in some areas of your personal, family, work or spiritual life. The problem is that you really don’t know where to start. It can seem overwhelming if you’re not used to it. So, what I want to do it give some very simple, practical advice (That’s what I would want if I were sitting in your seat.) on how to set, keep, mark and achieve some BIG goals for the glory of God in 2014.
1. Discern the need. Every goal that is set is in response to a need. It may be losing a few pounds to be more healthy – or fit into your jeans. It might be more time with your children so you don’t miss out on their childhood. Perhaps it’s going back to school for more education to help your career or family out financially. Maybe it’s reading through the bible in a year to draw closer to the Lord or have a more comprehensive understanding of the Bible. Wherever there is a need, that’s where a goal can and should be set.
2. Determine where you are. This is the time and place to be really realistic. If you move the posts ten or twenty yards farther down the field than you actually are then you’ll be behind from the outset. Many people drop the ball here and as a result either don’t follow through and reach their goal or they trick themselves into thinking that they have accomplished something more than they actually have. This might be the time to talk to a trusted friend or family member. Get some perspective. If you’re wanting to read through the Bible next year, but you haven’t read anything other than the cartoons in the Saturday paper since school, you might want to consider lowering your aim to one of the testaments or even a book or two. If you never spend time with your kids, start with a night or afternoon per week, not breakfast at six o’clock each morning and a day trip every Saturday. I could go on with the illustrations, but the point is to make sure that you no where you on in relation to your goal.
3. Decide where you want to be. This is the fun part for me. I love seeing the big picture, the need to be met and then setting Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals to help move myself, family, or church forward. That’s an important principle. Goals don’t have to all be touchdowns. Sometimes a yard for a first is what is needed. Sometimes it’s just getting on base. It’s kind of like the way I play golf – I’m looking for forward progress. So, decide where you want to be in a month, six months, a year, five years (You really ought to have short, medium and long range goals.) and then put a pin on the page and start moving toward your goal!
4. Dedicate yourself to meeting the goal. This is what separates the men from the boys. For many people, this is what determines success or failure. You see, it’s one thing to set the goal. It’s one thing to even put it down on paper. It’s another thing entirely to do whatever it takes to reach your goal. That’s why periodically throughout the process you will have to review where you are and recommit yourself to the task. Perhaps you’ve fallen behind in your Bible reading. That’s okay, take an evening and catch up. Maybe you had to drop out of school or a semester. No problem, sign up for classes the very next time they are offered. Maybe the church hasn’t responded the way you expected when you stood before them and cast the vision to “take the hill” for the glory of God. It happens. Be realistic in your review of where you are and then recommit yourself to doing whatever it takes — even if that means revising your goal with the understanding of the current situation. Then, move forward again. Forward progress. That’s the game-changer. Don’t ever forget that.
5. Declare victory when you’ve reached your goal. Celebrate. If you lost the ten or twenty pounds you determined to lose — celebrate. (Just don’t put it on back on in one night.) If you led your church to have a high attendance day and you reached your goal, then celebrate with the church. Let them know what they were able to accomplish together for God’s glory. If you’re spending the time with your family that you decided was the great need for this year — enjoy every minute of it. Take time to celebrate your victory — then sit down, set another goal, and start moving forward again!
These are just a few simple thoughts I hope will help you to be more effective and efficient in 2014.
What are some of the tricks or tools that you use in setting or keeping goals?