Each December I sit down and write out several goals (or resolutions) that I intend to accomplish in the coming year. These goals (I prefer goals to resolutions) are things that I’ve been thinking about and praying through for a long period of time; the New Year is just an opportunity to fire a starting gun under my intentions. I believe that goals should be an important part of every Christian’s life. The old adage, “If you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time” is particularly applicable to the Christian walk. The problem is that most of us start out our New Year with great intentions, but fall incredibly short. What I’ve come to realize is that goals must be three things: measurable, attainable, and strategic. So as we approach 2013, let me give you a couple of tips on setting goals and working toward accomplishing them.
First of all, understand that God’s providence and power is an underlying factor for all of your plans. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” That is why it is important to apply verse three of same passage “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Set goals that honor God and Christo-centric in nature, with the intention of giving Him glory.
Second, don’t set too many goals. I remember the first year I laid out goals for a New Year – I wrote down over 10 goals. How many do you think I accomplished? ZERO. Why? Because those are too many goals. I suggest not setting more than five goals and set them categorically. This is the strategic part of goal setting. As you write down your goals for the New Year, think of them as categories rather than lists. Ask yourself questions like:
- What do I want to accomplish spiritually in 2013? (ex. Reading the Bible through, spending time in the Word each day)
- What do I want to accomplish physically in 2013? (ex. Lose 15 lbs, run a marathon)
- What do I want to accomplish in my family/relationships in 2013? (ex. pray together once a week, take a mission trip together)
- What do I want to accomplish financially in 2013? (ex. participate in Financial Peace University, save $1000)
- What do I want to accomplish in my career or education in 2013? (ex. read 10 books, enroll in night school, increase sells by 10%)
The idea is that when you think categorically you have a more holistic view of your goals. We tend to focus on health related goals – but God created you for more than just killer abs. Also, its important to be very specific. Don’t say “I want to pray with my family,” but rather “I want pray every Sunday night with my family.” Being strategic makes your goal measurable, but it also makes it attainable. If you’ve never prayed with your family, make sure that you can experience success immediately by setting yourself up for success. You may want to pray with them everyday, but start off with a win by doing it once a week, and then doing it twice the next week and so forth.
Finally, celebrate BIG and celebrate often. I like to think of goals as mileposts toward a destination. If I plan to lose 20 lbs, then I need to celebrate every 5 lbs. If you wait to celebrate at the end of the journey, you’ll never read the destination. Give yourself permission to celebrate along the way. A great way to do this is by recruiting someone to hold you accountable and pray for you as you seek to reach your goals. When you accomplish a milepost – tell them and celebrate.
Goals are so important, and my hope is that 2013 be a banner year for you as you pursue God’s best for you life.