We’re already a few weeks into the new year so naturally the internet is overflowing with ideas about resolutions and tips for setting effective goals. In fact, you may be wondering why we’re still talking about it or what could possibly be left to say. However, I think there are some important things that haven’t been said, and it’s never too late to create or refine your goals.
I’m a goal setter by nature. I love the process of dreaming about the year ahead, planning for what I hope to accomplish, and accumulating dozens of organizational tools to make it happen. I can easily get sucked into the excitement of making myself better and the pursuit of perfect.
While I believe there is tremendous value in setting goals for our lives and being intentional about our focus for the year, I also think we are missing an important conversation about new year’s resolutions. One that makes God the focus, rather than ourselves. A conversation that reminds us that it’s not up to us or really about us at all.
Here’s what’s likely missing from most conversations about goal setting.
Why do we choose our goals?
If I’m not careful, my process for choosing goals can go something like this: think about what I’d like to do better – make that a goal, reflect on what’s most important to me – make spending focused time on that a goal, then outline external expectations for the coming year – make that a goal. I’m guessing your process resembles something similar.
What’s missing from this process is communication with God. Before we ever write down a single goal we should be asking the Father how we should spend our time, and then patiently waiting to hear His response. It’s so easy to get caught up in the things we “should” do and what’s culturally expected of us. While those shoulds may be worthwhile pursuits they’re oftentimes not the ultimate pursuits we should be chasing. Inviting God into the selection process ensures that we’re spending our time, energy, and resources on the most important and impactful things.
How do we accomplish our goals?
The honest answer to this question is, we try to rely on our own strength. I really believe this is why so many of us have probably already failed on many of our resolutions. We forge ahead convincing ourselves that if we just have a little more discipline and self-control we can conquer anything.
The truth is, we were never asked to accomplish any sort of life change on our own. We have access to the Holy Spirit and the strength He provides. Let’s stopping leaning on our own strength and start relying on the one who created the universe. If our goals do in fact align with His truth and calling on our lives, He will be faithful to help us achieve them.
Why do we quit at the first sign of failure?
I know I’m guilty of this, and I’m guessing you are too. I have a solid week (maybe) of sticking to my plan and then I miss one day, or make one mistake, and I give up completely. I tell myself that this is a sign of the inevitable failure so I throw in the towel.
I think we react this way because we don’t fully live in the grace of Christ. God’s grace tells us that one mess up isn’t the end of our story. We can get up, ask for and accept forgiveness, and start again. If we are working toward a goal out of obedience to God’s calling, then the immediate feelings of failure are most definitely a tactic of the enemy. Let’s stand up after we fall flat, in the fullness of grace, and get back to work on the things He has called us to.
If we as a church congregation were each intentional about discovering how God wants us to spend our time in 2016 we would see significant kingdom impact in our community and across the world.
This is a call to invite God into your goal-setting process, to recognize His presence, and intentionally join Him in the work He is doing. I can’t wait to see all that He is going to do this year in the life of the Central community.
To read more of Stephanie’s work, visit thissignificantlife.com.