I think that the beginning of a new year is the best time to set goals. But as important as setting goals is, we must prepare ourselves to actually attain them. “How to” is a worthwhile conversation, considering that most people fail—and miserably—at fulfilling their goals for a new year.
To succeed, you really need to grill yourself and make sure that the plans are both attainable and sustainable. Here are some questions to ask when considering goals for a new year:
What am I passionate about?
There are things that are passing whimsies, and then there are things that drive our hearts to beat fast. Passion is required if you are going to fulfill a goal. Passive interest won’t survive the resistance that true goal setting must endure. Don’t bother setting a goal regarding something that is not very important to you.
How will the world (or my world) be different if I meet my goal(s)?
Does this thing I am considering actually have the power to change someone’s life? Is it too ambitious to expect deep results from a decision I make today? Life-altering goals are made by leaders every day. If it doesn’t change a life, it probably isn’t worth concerned yourself over.
Am I called by God to do this thing?
I like what my buddy Travis Johnson said, “Sometimes, I hate hearing, ‘Let me pray about that.’ If God already told you to do it in Scripture, don’t ask Him again. Just do it.” While this is true, there are times when God just nails you with the call to do something specific for His kingdom. When that happens, you just have to lose the excuse and get on with whatever God is telling you to do. Conversation over!
How will I feel in one year if I let go of this idea?
If you can sleep at night without fulfilling this goal, if you can look yourself in the mirror without guilt, if in one year you will be able to feel good about yourself if you do NOT meet this goal, then I would say—let it go. It is not that important to you. But if you can’t bear the thought looking toward next year with this goal unmet, you had better get cookin’!
What will I have to let go of in order to see this goal come to fruition?
If you are like most people, your life is plenty full already. If you are considering tackling any kind of substantial project or goal in the new year, you will probably need to prioritize. So, what will have to be sliced from your schedule in order to make this thing happen? Are you willing to do it?
I am in the process of doing some in-depth personal planning and goal setting, and we are doing the same for the church. This is not so much an attempt at New Year’s resolutions. It is more an embracing of fresh opportunities and the optimism that comes with new beginnings. I don’t want to start the year without new vision and innovative ideas.
Some of the things I am working on for next year include a significant writing project. I am hoping to get away for a few days early in the year so I can focus without interruption. This may not happen but you can’t blame me for dreaming a little. I have been kicking around an idea for a book and it would be fun to put some thoughts on the computer. Here’s the thing: If I don’t take time to get away from my routine, it will be tough to make the project happen. My daily schedule is fairly full, and cramming in a major effort like this would be overload.
So, what are you planning for next year? If you plan nothing, I am pretty sure that’s exactly what you will accomplish.