Each New Year offers a clean slate…a chance to start over…an opportunity to remedy things that went wrong and to roll out projects waiting to be started. So as I sit down to write my goal , I always think of a few words that will be the focus of my vision for this year.
Last year, the word was INCREASE, and I chose the phrase “Only Jesus” to be the two ideas by which I would set my goals. I just looked back over my goals from last year and realized I accomplished a great many of them, but failed to get them all achieved. However, if I hadn’t set those goals, I’m not sure how much I would have accomplished at all!
I cannot stress enough the importance of setting goals. They are “vision with work clothes on” as A.R. Bernard likes to say, and they will provide the direction you need on days of discouragement. Vision provides the landscape for where we want to go, but goals are the compass by which we get there.
This year, I have 4 words and one phrase that I’m going to use as the backbone to my goals. The four words are: PURPOSE, PERSEVERANCE, PROGRESS, and PASSION. My phrase is HONEST TO GOD.
Before I say just a brief word about each, let me give you some helpful information about goal setting that I gleaned from Dave Ramsey’s book Entreleadership. When setting goals, we need to realize that goals come in all shapes and sizes and from all different categories of life.
So imagine a pie, and you are going to divide this pie into 7 equal pieces. Each piece represents an area of your life in which you are going to set goals for this year. The seven categories are:
As a set my goals in each of these categories I first think of one BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) that I know is virtually impossible to accomplish without the hand of God and extreme discipline. This BHAG represents the pinnacle of where I want to be in that particular category.
Next, I break that BHAG down into what I call LAGS (little accomplishable goals). It is these smaller goals that guide me toward the BHAG and keep me from getting discouraged along the way.
Keep your goals specific, keep them measurable, give them a time limit, and above all else make sure that you are accomplishing God’s will above your own. AND, you may discover along your journey that your goals are not in keeping with His will. If you do, abandon that ship immediately and follow after Him.
Now back to my 4 words for this year.
- PURPOSE – I want to discover deeper my purpose this year. I know where my talents lie, but I want to dive deeper into the will of God for my life by setting goals that will take my relationship deeper with Him. It’s only in walking closely with Jesus that I’m going to truly understand exactly what He wants me to do.
I know this much - I’m tired of playing it safe. I want to be dangerous for Christ. I want to go all in for the All in All. So while I write my goals, I want to make sure that none of them interfere with how He is leading me. Purpose is more of a mindset than it is a geographical location. I must know who I am and whose I am before it matters where I am.
- PERSEVERANCE – Some goals take years to accomplish. It’s not easy. But then again, no accomplishment of any significance is ever easy. So hang in there and fight discouragement with the brass knuckles of faith and discipline. Keep your energy focused and you will discover, with the help of God Almighty, that you are able to achieve way more than you ever dreamed possible.
Look at those around you who have beaten the odds with shear determination. Read the biographies of great people like Winston Churchill, Michael Jordan, or Abraham Lincoln. Get inspired by a “can do” attitude and then make the first step towards your goal. It may be a long climb ahead, but keep after it, one step, one pound, one decision, one client, one member, once account, one song at a time.
- PROGRESS – Discouragement sets in when we are unable to measure progress. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your goals year round. I look at mine at least once a month. A few years back, I even had a friend walk me through a life-plan. I look at that about once a month, as well. It really helps me to determine areas in which I’m growing rapidly and other areas where I need to improve. The good news is, with each step in the right direction, I’m making progress. I know if I make enough progress, I will eventually arrive at my goal.
Remember, perfection may be the pinnacle, but progress is the track by which we arrive there. It’s LAGS that deliver BHAGS. Think progress, not perfection.
- PASSION – If I’m not passionate about the goals I’ve set, then I will surely falter and perhaps even quit along the way. If purpose is the compass, then passion is the fuel. Passion is the great energizer that keeps the foot on the pedal when we would rather just coast a while.
I can’t stress it enough…don’t lose your passion. If you find it waning, then consider why. Maybe it’s discouragement, or a health issue, or a relationship that is bogging you down. For me, it’s when I’m tired. Getting enough rest is crucial to all walks of life, but it is especially important to me in keeping my vision clear and my energy high.
Passion is the overwhelming force behind your ability to keep your purpose clear, persevere through the tough times, and make great progress. I don’t even know who said this, but I love this quote: “There has never been a big enough obstacle to keep a person with passion operating in a higher calling from winning. “
So that brings me to my little phrase for this year: HONEST TO GOD
Since we do operate in a higher calling because we are children of GOD, I want to simply be honest before Him in all things. I can say with a clear conscience to you that, thankfully, I really don’t have any “skeletons” hidden in a closet, but still…to be honest before God in all things can be difficult.
So by that phrase I mean two things. First, Honest to God means I must be honest before all people as well. God knows my every thought and action, so one goal I have is to be more honest with people. Even if what I have to say isn’t quite as sugar coated as it used to be, I want to be honest. I am praying I can say it in love and that it will be received well. But, at least I would have spoken the truth.
And secondly, Honest to God means I want to open my heart to Him even more. I want to speak to Him as David did in either praise or lament. I want to walk with Him closer and hear His voice more clearly than ever before, which means my response to Him must be an honest one, as well.
I pray this little blog has sparked a few thoughts in your own heart and will encourage you to get serious about setting goals in every area of your life. I’m reminded of the words of J.C. Penney: “Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I’ll show you a man who will make history. Give me a man without a goal, and I will show you a stock clerk.” Let’s get after it , one goal at a time, and then give God the glory.
Here’s a good goal to start with: “In whatsoever you do, do it wholeheartedly as to the Lord, and not unto men.”