The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People changed my life 25 years ago. I read the book in two days on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, 1992-1993. Before that, I had made meager attempts at setting goals, but starting that Friday, January 1, 1993, I became very serious about it. I set 4 lifetime goals, about a dozen long-term goals (10 years), and another dozen 1 year goals. And my life was changed in a big way.
So I’m a believer in New Year’s resolutions…sort of. I think it’s a good time to set goals for the year, and I do every year. I hope you do as well.
But for some people, setting goals is only dreaming. The difference between dreamers and visionaries is that visionaries also envision the plan to make their goals happen. So let me give you some practical advice on setting goals that you can keep, and then keeping the goals that you set.
- Begin with who God wants you to be. I loved Jordan’s message last week on first determining who you are supposed to be, before you decide what you want to do. By envisioning the person God wants me to be, I can set goals that force me toward that ultimate goal, of growing to become more like Jesus. Start there.
- See the big picture. Before I set any long-term or annual goals, I set my lifetime goals, which are about my marriage, my kids, my ministry, and finishing well.
- Use the SMART acronym, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. You don’t want “Lose weight,” or “Get healthy,” as resolutions this year. If you do, they probably won’t happen. I have a specific end-of-year weight written down and blood pressure numbers targeted, number of books to read, etc.
- Write them down. Lots of research has been done here that indicates that people who write their goals down and keep them in an referable place are 3-4 times more likely to succeed than those who claim to have goals in their mind, but have never written them down.
- Break them up into monthly and weekly plans. This is where the rubber meets the road. If you don’t have a practical plan to achieve your goals, as I said earlier, you are only dreaming. So for my above goals, I have a work-out and eating plan, and have scheduled reading and writing time.
You can do this! Your resolutions this year do not need to be forgotten fantasies in a few months. Make this the year you take charge of your circumstances and reset your life to live for God and make a difference in eternity.
“One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 HCSB).