Its a new year, vision board parties are in full swing, and many of you (including myself) have a list of goals you want to achieve in 2019. My list was surprisingly not as long this time around, but I still managed to fill up close to two pages with every little thing I could think of that I would like to accomplish.
If you’ve followed my personal blog or youtube channel, I shared in December the top 5 things I learned in 2018, many of them centering around growth, discipline, and hard work that led to some pretty successful accomplishments. What I realized during that time was, when it comes to goal setting, we typically don’t have a plan of action on how to reach our desired outcome. And when this happens, we are left at the end of the year wondering why we weren’t able to achieve any, or most of our goals. According to U.S News, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February, and when you think about it that statistic makes sense.
I’ve been in that same position countless time, often wondering why it was so hard to change my lifestyle and reach new goals I set forth at the beginning of the year. Which is why I made some changes in 2018 that I hope will resonate with you today.
Now, I’m not a goal setting expert, but after reaching about 75% of my goals in 2018 I have a few lessons that I think can benefit someone else in 2019. Of course, there will be many additional things to consider when trying to reach your individual goals, but here are five things you should definitely think about regardless of what you are trying to achieve:
1. Write the vision, make it plain
Habakkuk 2:2-3 reads “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (NLT). This particular scripture has been a favorite of mine since 2013 and for good reasons.
When I came across it, a few weeks before graduating with my Bachelors Degree, I wasn’t sure what my next steps would be post-grad. Granted, I was headed to Bible College in a month to pursue a ministry degree, there were so many areas of my life that still seemed unclear on how I would ultimately achieve my goals of going to graduate school one day and becoming a professor. What I did in that moment was write a letter to myself – (more like a vision statement) of where I saw myself in 5-10 years. Unknown to me at the time, writing that vision was an act of faith, with the scripture to remind me of God’s promise to bring it to pass someday even when things seemed to be going in a different direction.
The act of writing down any vision is 2-fold. It is a demonstration to ourselves and to God that we believe in the desire He has placed in our heart even if our current circumstance does not align with what we write down. It also is an acknowledgment that we believe that God will one day bring it to pass. And now, two years into my PhD with only two more years to go, I can testify that the vision I wrote down 7 years ago has come to pass and will continue to manifest itself in even greater ways!
2. Meditate on the why
When we write down our vision and goals, a lot of us will stop there. But I think its important to then meditate on why you want to achieve that thing. The meditation (or reflecting process) allows you to evaluate if this is something you truly desire and also the magnitude of what it will require from you to get there. For instance, during the meditation phase, we can ask ourselves why do we want to achieve this goal? Is it to prove something to someone else? A passion of ours we can’t seem to let go of? Or, is it a lifestyle change that needs to be made? Whatever the case may be, meditating on your goals reveals your true intentions and will also reveal what it will require to get there (i.e additional training, getting a degree, eliminating something from your daily routine, etc)
3. Create a Plan of Execution
So, you’ve wrote your vision and now you know why you want to achieve this goal and what it will take to get there. But, do you have a plan? A plan of execution is crucial and if you don’t make it to this phase you will likely not reach your goal. When you take time to make a plan of execution you can map out critical steps you’ll need to take that you didn’t realize before. For instance, if your goal is to save 1,000 this year you might start by mapping out how much money you plan to save each month based off how much money you have left over once you’ve paid monthly bills. Breaking your large goal into smaller ones makes it easier to track your progress and see what is working and what you can improve on.
Another important factor to consider in your plan is what to do when you mess up or fall behind. Because lets face it, the path will likely have some hills, valleys, zig-zags, or even cracks to trip you up. Will you start from the very beginning, or pick up where you left off? The important thing to remember here is recognizing you don’t have to stop if you mess up, but you may need to adjust or reevaluate your steps.
4. Reward yourself for milestones along the way
There is a misconception that rewards only happen for major milestones or when you finally reach your goal, but actually- each step along the way should be treated as a major milestone. When we reward ourselves for progress, our desire to keep going stays strong and we are more likely to continue when things get hard. Rewarding ourselves is also a way to stay disciplined. When I am working on major writing assignments, I like to set weekly writing goals, and when I meet those goals or get close to the word count I typically will reward myself with something small like buying a speciality drink from Starbucks or watching a few shows on Netflix since I don’t have time to do that during the week. Cutting out something from your lifestyle and rewarding yourself with it for progress towards your goal will keep you motivated and feeling good along the way!
5. Don’t give up until you reach your desired outcome,
We’ve heard this time and time again – don’t give up. But more importantly, we shouldn’t give up until we the desired outcome. Striving to achieve something new in your life will not be easy because it will require small or major changes in your routine – but it is possible with discipline, consistency, and accountability. Rewarding yourself along the way for progress will keep you going, and believing that God will ultimately help you get there is the fuel you need to continue moving forward. And when you reach that goal. keep going! Don’t stop there but continue to challenge yourself to go after the dreams and desires that seem impossible.
“Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” – Mark 9:23 (NKJV)
What are some ways you’ve managed to reach your goals? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!