I am so ecstatic about beginning to share the teachings I am writing again through a blog. I pray that I am led completely by God and that nothing I say leads you in the wrong direction. I hope this blog begins to motivate you, exhort you, and uplift you as you never have been before! I don’t believe it’s too far-fetched for me to assume that when you saw the title of today’s blog that you might have rolled your eyes, or thought to yourself, “Here we go again.”
I am here this morning in my bedroom with my slippers on, sipping on loose-leaf tea, and looking out my window into a yard beautifully decorated with snow as I am mindfully writing to you.
Sadly, I am discovering that more often than not, the response I get when I casually ask the question, “Will you be setting goals for the new year?” appears to be trending more negative each year. I often hear these responses: We're only three months into the year; it's not too late to make goals for the year.
“I don’t see any point as to why I should set goals this year. Every year I set them, I don’t meet my goals and I continually trust myself less and carry more shame.” “Life changes too much for me to set goals. I will end up changing my mind.”
“The goals I set always lead me to disappointment.” “I just want to live in the now and do the best I can every day. There’s no need to set goals. I will end up where I’m supposed to be.”It is important that I also mention the positive responses I receive, although they seem to be increasingly more difficult to find, “Absolutely. Even if I just set a couple of goals, at least I have something to shoot for.” “Of course, I am! Who doesn’t?!”
I would like to take this moment to lay out the positive feedback cycles (cycles that continue to get better or worse without ceasing) that I have noticed to occur when goals are not met, and those that occur when goals are met.
It’s New Year’s, and you’ve set all types of goals. Short term goals, long term goals, shooting for the stars goals, and day-to-day goals. The excitement in you is lighting up and bursting forth from you like you are display ground for a fourth of July fireworks show. Right away, you send your goals to the person or to a couple of people that hold you accountable to attain those goals. Immediately, you begin the first steps towards the sweet finish line of reaching your goals.
Break time is over and it’s back to work and/or school. New priorities move in and try to ferociously kick out the priorities and goals that have just began to settle in and get cozy in your home. Seemingly inevitably, those priorities appear to have been forced to scoot over and move to make room for the other invaders. Priorities and goals became shifted, and now you’re overloaded with too much busyness to be able to do the sifting and re-organizing. Mid-February arrives and you have all but lost your stamina to follow through and stay on the path you created to help you reach the beginning goals you had set. As social work researcher/storyteller Brene’ Brown says, the “gremlins” come in and begin to tell you shame stories and make you feel bad about yourself. “You should be able to juggle everything you’re doing.” “What about Suzy homemaker; she’s getting it all done.” “You’re not organizing your time well enough.” “Why aren’t you staying on track? You must be incapable.” “You are not being a good enough _______.”
This cycle continues to escalate negatively until hope deferred and depression strongly attempt to worm their way in. Hope deferred is not something that we want in our lives. Symptoms of hope deferred include: disappointment, powerlessness, lethargy, physical and mental illness (such as heart problems or depression), lack of drive, etc. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but the desire fulfilled is like a tree of life.” Hope deferred is a strategic plan that Satan diligently tries to master in each of our lives because hope deferred blocks us from operating from faith, and without faith, nothing pleases God or truly makes a difference. We lose the power to motivate. We lose the joy that we are to carry that we are told, “…is our strength.” No wonder we get sick, pun intended, of setting goals from year to year. Who wants to experience continually disappointment, hope deferred, and maybe even depression? NOT ME, and I know not you either!
However, let’s take the perspective as if you continue along the path of the goals you set. You end up having more confidence, moving forward, and creating impact. Your hope, self-esteem, trust, passion, and the amount of people you impact continually spirals upward.
Which YOU scenario feels better? Sure, the second one. We all desire to feel and to be “successful,” whatever the definition of “successful” is to each of us individually.
So, what makes the difference between the first “you” scenario, and the second “you” scenario? I’m glad you asked.
I have found that people who continue to set goals, despite seemingly “failure,” despite the adversity, and despite the gauntlet of gremlins that come to torment them, are more “successful” people, whom are making astronomical impacts in their daily lives, and are coming home at night more fulfilled than they were that morning. What is it about these people that give them the ability to keep striving and moving forward? I believe it comes down to a few traits that each of us can plant and cultivate in our lives.
These traits are:
They know how to hear the voice of God
Hearing the voice of God is something that is depreciated, undervalued, and under-taught in our society. When these people set goals, they do not set their goals and ask God to bless them. They take the time to seek Him for what goals He has for them to set. This is vital.
They possess strong Character
These people have decided to, on purpose, develop their character. My favorite definition of character I adopted from Bill Hybles is, “what you do when no one is looking.” Character is a term that encompasses practices such as: discipline, self-control, compassion, determination, perseverance, courage, vision, self-sacrifice, etc.
They have cultivated resilience
Resilience is a common trait discussed in today’s world. These people have cultivated resilience to shame, difficult circumstances, and what others may view as, “failure.” They adopted an attitude similar to Bruce Lee’s quote, “To heck with circumstances, I create opportunities.” (Heck was changed from the other four- letter word to keep this blog G rated.)
Maybe you have developed the latter, positive attitude and this blog post simply motivated you more. However, it may just be possible that you are reading this and you are one who struggles with or is against the idea of setting goals. It is possible that you were never given the tools to place in your belt that are necessary to cultivate hearing the voice of God, character, or resilience. Maybe, you are someone who doesn’t set goals and you make excuse after excuse as to the “why” behind not setting them. If this last depiction is you, please take heed of your actions and honestly search your soul as to why you are avoiding setting goals. Many times, I see people avoid setting goals because they either don’t know how or don’t want to put in the time and embrace the pain it takes to work through dirty emotions and deep-set mindsets like disappointment, sadness, or hope deferred.
I challenge you to give yourself some time to soul search and dig deep. Discover your true motivations for setting, and for not setting goals. If you desire more information on how to cultivate any of the three traits mentioned in this article, or how to cultivate hope, please reach out to myself or someone that you trust to help guide you and help you get on the road to goal setting with excitement once again.
I did not have all the time I would have liked to be able to thoroughly teach on this topic, but I hope I delivered enough information for you to understand what it is I am so desperately feeling led to communicate.
I desire to hear your experiences overcoming the difficulties of goal setting, and how you have come to continue to goal set, despite the adversity and up’s and down’s that sneakily and yet overwhelmingly approach you throughout the year. I also would like to read of goals you are setting, and of your emotional journey of setting and/or walking out those goals.
I will part with you after a couple of quotes that continually resound true:
“It is not the accomplishing of the goal that is important, but the setting of the goal and moving in a forward direction. It is proven that people who set goals, even if they don’t reach them, accomplish more than everyone that doesn’t set goals. It is not the finishing of a goal that counts, but the moving in a forward motion towards a greater something.”
The most reached goals are goals that are S.M.A.R.T.
Blessing to you on your journey to cultivate hope for setting new goals this year. Together, we can hold each other accountable and move forward to impact our world.
Full of belief for you,