Goal Setting Made Simple
I didn’t want to write another blog post to add to the masses about how to set goals and stick too them because there’s already plenty of those for the go-getters out there. But, I did want to give some guidelines for how I set goals that honor God and the reality of keeping them.
Before I get into my three questions to guide you in goal setting, I’ll give you my goals for the new year. I know it's already a month in, but it's always a good time to set some new goals, so here they are:
Read the entire Bible in Chronological order of when it was written
Spend my quiet time with Jesus before getting on social media
Exercise for 30 minutes or more at least 3 times a week
Post a blog at least once a week
Only buy coffee once a week
Now, here are the questions I ask when creating tangible, God-honoring goals:
First, does it glorify Christ?
This question really gets at your motivation for the goal. Who are you doing it for? You or God? Because if you’re doing it just to make yourself look like a better person, even if it’s a Bible reading goal, it’s likely you’ll burn out and not stick to it. But if you are doing it because you have a deep desire to know Jesus more, then the Holy Spirit is going to help you carry it through to completion.
Even if your goal is one related to fitness like my goal to work out three times a week, the motivation can still be honoring God through the physical body he has given us to take care of. We just have to watch that our physical fitness does not become more important that our relationship with Christ, just as any other aspect of our lives can do.
When we center our goals around Jesus, we have a motivation that lasts forever, rather than a motivation that will only last as long as the latest trend or our own willpower, which if we’re honest, doesn’t get us very far.
Second, is is positive?
This one is pretty easy, but very important. Take my second goal for instance. I could have said, “Do not get on social media before spending time with Jesus,” but I chose to word it, “Spend my quiet time with Jesus before getting on social media.” Rather than having a list of “do-not’s” in front of you to stare at all year, it is a lot more encouraging to have a list of things to work toward. Just as Jesus focused on how he wanted people to love each other rather than doing acts out of a desire to keep the 10 commandments that are filled with “do-nots,” our motivation is more likely to remain pure if we make our goals “lovely” and “commendable.”
Another instance of this is if you want to eat less cookies and more healthy snacks. Rather than having a goal of “Do not eat any cookies,” which in my case would be near impossible to keep considering chocolate chip cookies are my weakness, you could have a goal of choosing healthy snacks when there is one available rather than a sweet. This then allows you some margin room to eat a cookie every now and then, but points you towards the healthy choice most of the time.
Third, is it something you can progress toward?
If there’s one thing I know about God, it’s that he can do the impossible through average people like you and me. I would rather dream big and have Him go even bigger than living a mundane life, not expectant of what he can do through us when we willingly give him ourselves. I try to set goals that I know will be at least somewhat uncomfortable and challenging for myself because I know that with Christ’s strength, I can do anything when it glorifies him, which goes back to the importance of the first question. My first goal I set for the upcoming year, to read the entire Bible in a year, intimidates me because I haven’t done it since the year I became a Christ-follower in 10th grade, and back then I had a whole lot more free time. But I know that because I desire to know Jesus more by knowing the Word, he will bless that desire and give me the willpower and time I need to get it done, not so I may boast, but so I may know Him more.
The point I mean to make is that you do not need to set a goal for something you’re already doing or something that will be easy, but rather do something that will challenge you and allow room for God to help you with it. You don’t have to have it perfect every day or week. It’s unlikely I’m actually going to exercise 3x a week every single week, especially these first few months, since my exercise routine was somewhat non-existent last semester. However, I want to be like Paul, who even though he made mistakes and slipped up in the past, pressed on toward his goal, which was Christ.
It’s okay to not start new goals on January 1, and it’s okay to re-assess a few weeks later and maybe change some things that just aren’t happening how we had thought they would. But know that when your goals are centered around bringing glory to God in all areas of your life, He will help you reach them.