by Melva Blanchard

Go on a diet. Be more humble. Change jobs. Buy a new car. We have all been there, trying to set goals that we don’t even remember when December comes. Why in the world do I try new goals every January? And why do I never (or almost never) stick to it?

We are creatures that are drawn to newness, drawn to find hope. We want to see progress, to be better people, to find joy and contentment, and a new start (aka January) is a great time for that. Setting aside the embarrassing stories that will make me laugh later, how many things would I do differently from the past year?

We are creatures that long to be just like our Creator. Some of our desires come from the fact that we are image bearers and we can’t help but seek things like the newness of life, the renewal of our minds, the good stewardship of what we have, health, joy, peace – those little words that we keep seeing around during the holidays.

However, I may fail in pursuing those goals. One, because the motivation for some of the goals might be my own pride – I want ‘that’ so I can be ‘this’. Second, I put the trust in myself and expect too much of what I can do. And third, well, because I genuinely forget about them – sometimes I even forget that I set goals (is that just me?). I fail to enjoy life the way it is and that usually comes with a lack of gratitude.

The good news is there’s hope for that list. If I really understand that it is not me who accomplishes those things, but the One that cares for me, I will stop fighting on my own to be successful and start praying for real, letting Him lead me instead. And when I accept help, I find contentment. I find joy and hope. That’s the lens I should use to set my goals. Now, how about we start working on them? My business mind wants to be practical and find a way to make that task easier. Here are a few tips that I have found helpful…

  • First, write your goals out and put them somewhere you will see them at least once a month. This is a simple tip, but an easy way to avoid the pitfall of forgetfulness.
  • Second, consider making your goals S.M.A.R.T – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time based. Maybe you have heard of this model before, maybe not, but it is a great way to get practical, and make sure your goals are realistic.
  • Third, if you really want to write something down that doesn’t fit this model, you may consider that as a valuefor yourself – and those values can help you decide your goals for the year. For instance: I want to be more thankful for everything – that’s general, you can’t really measure, and it’s not time based. Instead, you can consider ‘thankfulness’ as a value, and everything in your life will revolve around it.
  • Finally, be gracious to yourself as you think about your goals. Remember the point is growth, not accomplishment. Celebrate the successes, even if you don’t check all the boxes.

You can set goals as a family, as a community or just for yourself. My husband and I decided to do that this year and we are thrilled to be consistent and stick to our list – you can hold me accountable and ask me in December how that went. There is nothing wrong with setting goals, but let the Lord lead you. That’s the secret for a successful year.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:1)

I wrote this blog for myself, but I hope it’s helpful to you as well 🙂