Updated: Feb 2, 2022
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Luke 14:28-30, ESV
Some have given up on setting goals. I can certainly understand that. With the pandemic it may seem futile to plan. If this is where you are, let me encourage you not to stop setting goals but instead to set achievable goals. The key word is “achievable.”
We shouldn’t do goal setting for goal-setting sake. We should set goals because we want to get somewhere specific. We want to establish a sense of purpose and direction that, when all is said and done, we can know if we said what we wanted said and did what we wanted done.
Without goals we won’t really know how we’re doing. By the way if we don’t set goals, we still have goals they’re just unarticulated. Every merchant wants to have more revenue come in this year than last. Every pastor would like to have his church more loving, giving and going this year than last. These are unarticulated goals. But if these goals are not articulated and specific action steps are not developed, more revenue for a business and growth for a church is just a hope. Hope is not a plan.
I’ve hosted and lead planning retreats for church staff and non-profits. As I ask them to review the past goals and how they ended up, it is surprising that many of the goals are lost during the regular urgency of everyday life.
It may come as no surprise to you to learn there is a lot more to success than just setting goals.
I want to show you why many people fail to achieve their goals. I also want to help you be successful with whatever it is that you want to achieve in your life, work, and ministry. The first step for this is to start at the beginning.
Step 1: Have a proper definition of “goal”
A goal is a target which is achievable in measurable attainable steps. It is more than just a desire or a need and has an existence of its own. A desire or a wish is less tangible and often just fleeting. Who doesn't desire or wish to be in better physical shape? A goal is a desire, wish or need achievable by actions you can take. It is more than a mere wish or desire.
Step 2: Understand how to set a goal
Setting a goal is a process which starts with an achievable need or desire. First you must decide on the following:
What do you want?
Where do you want to be?
Where are you now?
How does it relate to your status, career, or qualifications?
A goal can relate to any desire, wish, or need achievable by actions you can take. You then break down the goal into small individual steps or actions.
Achievable goals are goals where you can influence their realization and measure your progress towards them. Achieving long term life changing goals is a process of achieving, step by step, short- and medium-term actions.
Step 3: Determine the actions
Goals require action on your part. You first need to decide what action is required to achieve the goal. Your first action is always to always write your goals down. Putting pen to paper, and this is one time when a real pen and paper are required, gives your goals an existence of their own.
Writing a plan is an essential step in achieving your goals - without it you will, over time, amend the long-term goal to fit your reality. You will eventually reduce the goal to a wish and wishes only would come true by chance. Integrate the actions into the calendar and budget. Make sure someone is responsible for follow-through, even if it is you. You may discover in planning that you are personally taking on too much. This is the only way your action plans will have real traction.
Step 4: Analyze the results
You then need to analyze and work out in detail how you are going to accomplish each individual goal. This means writing a detailed plan of what tangible actions are required to achieve each individual goal.
These actions then become smaller shorter-term goals leading to major longer-term goals.
Step 5: Choose the steps you need to take today
Every day ask yourself "What steps do I need to take today?". By now it should be all planned, so check your plan and make sure you take each step every day. If you discover additional steps are needed add them to the plan.
Step 6: Review your achievements every week and month
Every week review your progress for the week. Check what you've done and what you may have missed. Adjust your plan for the next week or month.
Your plan should always consider what you will do today, tomorrow, this week, next week before the end of the month, in the next 3 months, 6 months...? Always write down your results.
Step 7: When things don’t go as planned
Goals are difficult because they move you outside your comfort zone to do things differently. To be successful you must face your own fear of failure and take risks. There will be setbacks, expect them, they are part of the process.
When things don’t go as planned, make updates in the appropriate actions, and even adjust the goals if necessary. Adjusting is part of life. Make them and keep moving.
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 3:14, ESV