It is a new year and many people will take time to set new goals or make new resolutions. Goals can be helpful as they cause us to evaluate our lives, consider what is important to us, and decide what changes we need to make. Setting goals has also proven to be fruitful, as research indicates they are motivating and can lead to better performance.
I set new goals every year, keep them on my desktop, and review my progress throughout the year. I have not reached every goal, but the discipline of planning and evaluating has been helpful. I don’t want to just meander through the one life the Lord has graciously given me. I want to live with intentionality knowing that my days are numbered. As you set goals for 2020, here are four ways to ensure you are setting the best goals. Set goals for your whole life, in community, with a plan, and ultimately with a focus on the greater goal.
1. For your whole life
Because we are complex, our physical health, spiritual health, and emotional health cannot be neatly segmented. I get that. But in terms of practically setting goals, I find it helpful to set goals for different areas of my life so that I am stewarding well all the Lord has entrusted to me. Because every aspect of my life impacts every other part of my life, I want to have goals that encompass life as a whole. For example, if I don’t steward my physical health well, it adversely impacts other areas of my life. Depending on the year I set one or two goals in several categories such as physical, spiritual, family, personal development, and financial.
2. In community
If your goals impact others, share those goals with the people. By doing so, you gain both support and accountability. I discuss my goals with Kaye to get her insight and also her support. On a dinner date last week we discussed our goals for 2020, why they are important, and what changes we need to make to help each other. A few years ago Kaye set a goal to run a marathon and helping her reach that goal meant me being on solo kid duty on Saturday mornings so she could for her long weekly run. I share my ministry goals with my assistant and ask her to help me view everything on my calendar through the lens of those goals.
3. With a plan
Goals without actionable plans will not be realized. In most cases plans are even more important than goals. As an example, a plan to exercise four days a week without a clear goal will produce better results than a goal of getting in shape that lacks a plan. Obviously having both a goal and a plan is the best route, and the plan should be closely connected to the goal.
4. And with a focus on the greater goal
As believers in Christ, if all our goals are met, we should look more like Jesus. If we hit our 2020 goals and we are not more conformed into the image of Christ, then we are doing it wrong. It is good to look back through our goals to be sure our motivation for each goal is rooted in our relationship with Christ and to ensure that each goal can be tools in our sanctification.