As a New Year is about to begin the subject of making resolutions and new goals always seem to come front and center. Some people do not make New Year resolutions believing it’s unnecessary or a waste of time. But it is a good thing to make plans. In fact, according to Proverbs, the wise person will set goals and prepare for the future.
Proverbs 16:9 – The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps
Proverbs 16:3 – Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established
In these two passages we see that while the outcomes belong to God, it is good and valuable to makes plans and set goals. Not only does God encourage us to make plans (set goals) but he also wants us to get the best advice we can to help make those plans:
“Without counsel, plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22
Simply wishing for big results is not enough! It’s important to set goals and then follow through with action. But we do this with a heart that allows our plans to be held loose enough for God to change those plans as he sees fit.
With that in mind here are some reasons that the goals we make fail:
We go it alone – When moving towards achieving a goal it is best to have someone alongside you who knows about your goal and can help you remain faithful.
We give up too easily – It takes time to achieve anything worthwhile. When it gets tough to keep going we can get discouraged and lose interest.
We don’t have time – In our busy lives, it’s easy to NOT consider the time it takes to find success in that new goal. Once you start working toward your goal maybe you realize that your resolution takes more time than you thought.
We did not make a specific plan – The best goals are those that actually include a plan of action. For example, some may say, “I want to lose weight” but have no plan of action to achieve that goal.
We are not honest with ourselves – Sometimes we commit to something because we think we should but we really don’t want to. So when it becomes hard we quit because we honestly didn’t really care about that goal in the first place.
We don’t believe in ourselves – For some, all you really need to keep going is a pat on the back from yourself. Let’s say your plan was to send out ten resumes a week for a new job and you only sent out five. There’s no need to beat your self up. Be encouraged that you sent out five.
Here are some tips for successful goal setting
Start with prayer – Start the process with prayer – maybe even a short retreat where you intentionally get alone with God – If you set goals in the context of prayer, there is a much higher likelihood that your goals will glorify God.
Think in categories– family – personal growth – travel – marriage – physical – realize that any goal that cultivates physical discipline will usually cultivate spiritual disciplines as well.
Be specific– If a goal isn’t measurable, you have no way of knowing whether you’ve accomplished it. Losing weight isn’t a goal if you don’t have a target weight within a target timeline.
Write it down – It’s been said, “The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.” If you haven’t written down your goals, you haven’t really set them. Something powerful happens when you have it in writing.
Include Others – We need the support of others to help us accomplish the attainable goals we’ve set.
Celebrate along the way – When you accomplish a goal, celebrate it. When God answers a prayer, throw a party. We should celebrate with the same intensity with which we pray.
Think Long – Most of us overestimate what we can accomplish in two years and underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years.
Continue to pray – Goals begin and end with seeking and connecting with God. God designed goals are not only birthed in prayer but prayer is what helps them find completion.
So as you approach this New Year consider setting a goal that will help you not only in your physical life but also in your spiritual life.