I'm sure most people work toward goals every day, even if they don't really give it much thought. They want to keep their yard looking nice, so they mow it each week. They obviously have a goal (having a nice yard) and are working toward it (mowing). We are all working toward many goals that we have defined in our minds. But are we really living intentionally? Do we allow ourselves time to think about the future and what we need to be doing now to make things happen in our lives later? Are we really working toward the things that are important to us? Life is short. We better get started.
I want to share some steps with you that I have learned over the years that will hopefully help you not only set goals, but make them happen. I think we all have good intentions, but life has so many distractions. It's easy to forget what is important to us.
I try to run my ideas through scripture to be sure I'm on the right path. Proverbs 16:9 says, "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps". I pray that God will direct my steps and that I will honor Him in all I do. I also pray that He will open and close doors for me according to His will. I do, however, believe that He wants me to make plans and to consider the cost of my decisions each day. I believe He wants me to live intentionally, using the wisdom and gifts He gives me.
Here we go. You will need a notebook.
Step 1: Write it Down on Paper
Don't stop reading here. This step is more important than you know. Writing it down will help create a clear vision in your mind. Give thought to what direction you'd like your life to go. What is really important to you? Saving for a house? Saving to allow more giving opportunities? Finding a job you can do from home? Losing weight? Improving your health? Starting a business? Finding a new career? Taking a mission trip some day? Starting a Bible study group? Maintaining a close relationship with your spouse? Write those goals down in a notebook. Write a least 7 or more goals that you can be working on now. Write them in the present tense, as if they have already happened. E.g. "I have started a Bible study group of 5 women and we are meeting weekly".
Step 2: Each Day, Rewrite the Goals
Each day, in your notebook, write the date and rewrite your goals. This will serve to remind you of what you are actively working toward. If you skip this step, distractions will cause you to forget. Do this first thing in the morning or at night before bed.
Step 3: Make a To-Do List Each Day That Corresponds With Your Goals
Make a daily to-do list that includes small steps that will help you get closer to each goal. If my goal is to start a business, each day I need to include in my to-do list a small step that will get me closer to starting a business. Some possible steps could be to research how to start a business, to take a class on how to start a business, to make an appointment to meet with a successful business owner, or read a book about starting a business. For clarity, I would only write one of those steps, not all of them at one time. If one of my goals is to lose weight or improve my health, my to-do list might include my healthy meal plans for the day. If one of my goals is to save money for something, I might write on my to-do list to pack my lunch, so I don't have to eat lunch out while running errands that day. Each step, each day will be leading you closer to your goals. So, to be clear, your daily to-do list will consist of steps for each goal you have written.
Step 4: Be Realistic About What You Can Accomplish in One Day and Realize Goals Can Change
You might have a long list of to-do tasks one day and accomplish none of them. Life happens. Be patient with yourself. Write those same tasks down again the next day. Be sure to be realistic about what you can accomplish in one day or you will become discouraged. The idea is that you are taking small steps each day toward your goals. Sometimes, you may decide to change a goal or two. Maybe what was once important to you is no longer important. Or you may mark that goal off your list because you accomplished it. Yay!! Good for you.
Life is short people. We have been given much and much is required. Let's live each day as intentionally as possible, asking God to direct us as we plan and take action toward our goals. Step by step by step by step, we will move in the direction of our goals. Get that notebook out and start writing!