On December 31 at 6 pm I saw a “tweet” someone sent out to their Pastor that read: “Pastor help! I only have 6 hours to run a marathon, lose 20 pounds and pray more.” As I laughed and read it to my wife, I also thought to myself: “At least he remembered what his resolutions were. Goals are good and I can’t think of a better time to set them than at the first of the year; however, they should be goals that matter - they should be goals that include not only “losing 20 pounds” but they should include goals that impact the Kingdom. I have shared before that one of the things Michele and I try to do is discuss our giving not just in the beginning of the year, but throughout the year. We know that giving can be something we simply do rather than an area we focus on growing in. Make a goal/resolution that impacts your children and spouse and challenges them to grow - make a goal that impacts your sanctification. There is nothing wrong with goals that impact your physical health and by all means do this… but in your goal setting go back and at least examine if any of them work toward the sanctification of you and your family. Below are just a few ideas to help:
- Write Your Goals Down: I don’t mean in the back of some notebook you look at once every 6 months. We have wonderful resources today - use your outlook, calendar, smart phone and choose different periods of time to be reminded of these goals. One of my goals in 2011 was to journal more. I used a website I mentioned before on this blog to help me. http://ohlife.com/ it sends me an e-mail asking me how my day was and all I have to do is e-mail the site back a short or long journal entry. I didn’t return the e-mail as often as I should but I did better this year than ever before!
- Have Primary Goals & Secondary Goals: John Acuff wrote a blog on this and called the secondary goals “cousin goals.” He calls them this because cousins are seldom like your brothers or sisters - they are people you like and want around but you seldom have them over except on holidays (sorry for all the cousins I just offended). But, in short you want to have primary goals that you see as things you “must do.” You make plans put them on your calendar; you put these in places that will remind you what you should be doing. The “cousin goals” are things that you would like to do but they can happen after the primary or as a result as the primary goal. For instance, if one of your goals is to read more this year and another is to have a more consistent family worship time this year, accomplish both by going through a book part as of your family worship. Or if you want to run a marathon (Primary) secondary would be to lose 20 pounds. Some of the weight loss will come as a result of the running.
- Set Accountability: Tell your spouse or friend what some of your goals are and ask them to mention them to you from time to time. Often in midst of accomplishing goals…life happens. If I have someone asking me about them and holding me accountable, I tend follow through better. You can set a plan in place for accountability; for instance, if you want to read through the Bible this year there are wonderful Bible reading plans on the internet and even in apps for your phone that can help you.
- Think About The "Why": If you think about the reasons you have set this goal, and the benefits and/or blessing that will come from it as a result, it will serve as motivation. For instance, if you want to read more just because you don’t read enough, chances are not very good for you to accomplish this. But, if you want to read more in the subject areas that you are struggling in personally and spiritually, then you have more meaningful reason/motivation.
- Place Steps in Front of You: If your goal is to run a marathon, don’t go outside and start by running 20 miles hoping you can get the other 6 by the end of the year. Set a goal for a 5 or 10K by March. Then maybe a ½ Marathon by August (if it’s not too hot). If your goal is to read more, think through how many books and put on your outlook as a reminder in February that you should have finished your first __(fill in the number) books.
- Set Realistic Goals: If you are 200 pounds overweight, you may not want to set as a goal that you will climb Mt. Everest by November. If you struggle with reading you may not want to commit to reading 200 books this year. But you may want to commit to reading a book every month or every two months.
I think one of the most important things we can do as believers is to set goals that glorify God and then set up ways to follow through. I pray that 2012 will be a year that the Lord works in our lives like never before!