The Goal of Goal Setting + My Word of the Year

Christian Life & Theology, Productivity

I write this on the cusp of my favorite day of the year: January first. The thought of closing one book and opening another – a blank page soon to be filled – thrills me with anticipation! I spent a few hours last week going through my Powersheets, deciding where to direct my energy in 2017. To be honest, I’m leaving 2016 with one word in my head: tired.

I’m tired. But there’s a twinge of satisfaction in that admission, because our word for 2017 was “push”. We challenged ourselves to push through difficulty, to push back against laziness, to push for a good marriage, and I can testify to those achievements. I know this next year holds more opportunity to push through hard things, but I’m ready for a change.

The Goals of Goal-Setting

Why do we bother to set goals? If you’ve never done this, you might wonder why you should start. I can’t speak for everyone so I’ll speak for myself: I set goals as a benchmark for change. We change every day, but unless we measure those alterations to our life and character, we tend to forget how far we’ve come. And without established priorities, our days drift from one urgent task to another.

We don’t set goals to brag about accomplishments or to feel good about ourselves, neither of which advance the gospel. Ultimately, Christian goal setting should be about the gospel: how do our priorities reflect the Great Commission and our own understanding of God’s gospel grace? This in mind, the goal of goal setting is threefold.

Challenge Your Personality

My readers know I’m a huge fan of the Myers Briggs personality test. It’s transformed my communication with family and friends and helped me see some of my own flaws.

We’re all pretty comfortable with our personalities. We have things we like to do and things we hate; we have amazing skills in some areas while struggling in others. Goals force us to challenge the comfort zones of our personalities. They give us those “benchmarks of change”, a measuring stick for where we are and where we need to be.

I often say “Personality is an explanation, but it’s not an excuse.” You might be a night person, but if being a “night person” makes you perpetually late for work, something needs to change. Some of who we are is embraceable; other parts need the sanctifying work of Christ, as well as grace-driven habits, to live out the gospel effectively in the short time we have.

Change Your Habits

On that note, goals help change your habits. Remember: God will not give you good character. You have to align yourself with His will and take actionable steps to see change. Simply praying to the Lord, expecting Him to do all the work – never taking action in faith – isn’t going to yield a fruitful harvest in your life. You have a part to play in this.

Goals help you change your habits by pinpointing your weaknesses. The first step to good goal setting is the acknowledgment of our failure; where do we need to improve?

Choose a New Direction

Finally, grace-driven goal setting gives us a new direction for our days. Even those who live unintentionally have set a direction for their lives, but that direction is into laziness, frustration, anxiety, and overwhelm. We’re all headed somewhere! The question is, are you headed further into the gospel of Christ, or further into the life of a drifter?

Your goals will set a new direction. Base them on biblical principles. I like to ask myself, “How does this goal further the gospel?” before setting it. It helps me root my priorities in the correct motive, setting the stage for a blessed year.

My Word of the Year: Settle

All my goals flow from an overarching theme. Like I said, last year our theme was “push”. As I prayed about what word to choose for 2017, I first heard “enjoy” – but that didn’t express what I was sensing. I used a thesaurus to look up synonyms and finally found what I was looking for: settle.

Five years ago I moved to Virginia. Three years ago I got married. One and half years ago we moved to Pennsylvania and, five days later, had a baby. Three months ago we moved to my Michigan hometown and bought a house. Just writing that made me tired!

My life has been go, go, go since I can remember. I believe God is calling me to settle down, to put roots down once again, and to let Him work in quieter ways. While I’ll still be my productivity loving self, I’m taking time for more rest, less running. I excited for what this new year has in store!

I hope your New Year is blessed with the peace of God and a renewed love for His gospel, which is our salvation and our hope.

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