Maybe instead of goals, ask this question
How do you feel about that word now that it’s mid-January?
Are you stressed because you still haven’t made any?
Excited because you’re making progress?
Annoyed to hear them still be mentioned?
Defeated because you already fell off the wagon?
Good things can be said for making goals. Research shows that people who make goals are ten times more likely to be successful than those who don’t make goals. Not surprisingly, the rate of success increases exponentially when you commit those goals to paper and keep your written goals in front of you throughout the year.
I’m not gonna argue with research.
Most of the time, my favorite part of a new year is praying through the hopes and ideas God has put on my heart and filling out my absolute favorite goal planning sheets. This year, though, the only things I’ve really made progress on are the puzzles we indulge in every winter and the novels I keep checking out from the library.
Instead of the hopeful anticipation I usually feel at the start of January, I’ve been riddled with anxiety. As a result, all of my usual joy in goal-setting and plan-making is put on hold.
Your reasons for not setting goals this year (or getting off to a rough start like me) might be entirely different. You might be facing fear or stuck in complacency or run by a schedule that’s too full or a life that’s too loud.
Maybe you’re not making goals this year because your best laid plans were waylaid so you wonder what the point is anyway. I don’t know your reasons, but you’re certainly not alone in them. After all, about 80% of our population doesn’t even set goals. (Do you? Let me know in the comments below.)
I’m not sure where you stand with goal-setting, but today I want to be the little bird on your shoulder who whispers grace in your ear. Writing goals doesn’t guarantee a winning year. After all, we don’t know what tomorrow brings.
Yes, habits help hold us even when the unexpected comes. Goals guide and routines regulate. But sometimes we need to go more simple.
So wherever you are in goal-setting for 2017 — whatever you’re feeling — set that aside for just a minute and hear me out. I want to make progress this year super simple.
Instead of making a 12-month plan for changing your family, or brainstorming all the ways you can lose weight, get fit, say “no” or be a better parent, friend or Christian, ask yourself, “What can I do today?”
What can I do today to make progress on this idea, to write this book, to love my spouse, to shepherd my kids? What can I do today to eat well, move more, be generous, stay present?
What can I do today?
What can I do today to lead my family to Jesus? What can I do today to serve my family well?
What can I do today?
Prayerfully answer that question; then do it.
As you answer the question and take those steps, you will see progress. Maybe those daily steps will be the stimulus you need to look out a little further and plan a little bigger.
When you wonder how to make progress, what to do, or if you feel stuck, overwhelmed, derailed, or afraid, start with that one question :: what can I do today?
Growing with you,
Erika // erikadawson.com
ps :: If you’re ready to move beyond the “one question” and really want to pursue connectedness in your family and intentional growth in your kids, join us for a week of deliberate, prayerful, grace-filled parent planning. CLICK HERE to join us. See you there!
The one and only actual “goal” of our lives as Christians should be the attainment of intimate communion with God. After all, is this not the state for which we declare we are destined? Our embrace of this disposition is both the beginning of life with God here on earth and our anticipated entry into Heaven with Him. The reaction to this statement by many Christians in my circle of friends has been to roll their eyes as if this was some fervent but childish fantasy, and I cannot really blame them. No matter how impossible it may be for us to actually merit what our Savior has done or destined for us in enabling our entry into Heaven with Him, we cannot rid ourselves of the notion or the compulsion that somehow we must attain merit of it through our “sanctification”. In fact genuine sanctification would reveal to us almost instantly how truly unworthy we are and how we must always remain so, even to the point of embracing our poverty. We are not destitute of merit before God merely because we are sinners. We are consummately impoverished because He is the unfathomable God and we, as His creation, are even in our most perfected state, light years inferior to Him. It was the conviction that human beings could somehow attain parity with God which doomed our first parents and us to lives distant from our Creator in the first place. Until this sin was mitigated by our Savior and we were enabled of entry into His Sonship, we were doomed to the false struggle of attainment of Heaven by merit which was never possible. But I would ask, as should you, “Would the disciples of Jesus have rolled their eyes if I made the statement above to them. In fact it was they who time and time again made the exhortation to each of us at the direction of our Savior and the Holy Spirit to seek God with your whole heart.
Another likely declaration upon hearing my exhortation of entry into intimacy with God might be “Well then, should I just drop everything, abandon my family and follow your advice to stop living the life that God gave me to stick my head in the clouds where yours seems to be?” Far from it! In fact, the only real difference between what I am suggesting was intended by Jesus and what we most often believe is that our so called “progress” in Christian life, to be genuine and of genuine value to our salvation, must be a result of our communion with God rather than being a goal in itself. This should be set in stone and written in our hearts. In fact it is the first commandment. In order for our progress in Christian life to be genuine in the first place it must rise in its accomplishment only from our communion with God and not the other way around. Only when it does will we understand that our progress should not and can not be worn on our sleeve as some merit badge, displayed as the secure means and measure of our justification before God. Our justification is entirely unmerited and will remain so for eternity and no means at our disposal will ever change this fact. It is our pursuit the intimate communion with God, continually offered to us by Him and which results from our personal surrender to Him, from which true sanctity arise. If you find this difficult to believe have you ever considered of what actual critical use is even your most vastly improved behavior to the unfathomable God who has no need? God needs none of your services, for some inexplicable reason He has decided He needs you to love and to care for, and to love Him in return. No matter how much we may regard ourselves to have become purified, sanctified, and improved over the course of our lives with respect to our Creator and Our Savior, we are no more deserving and no less destitute with respect to Him at even the best moment of our existence than any other. This is true no matter what the apparent elevated state of our sanctity becomes in our estimation or in the view of others. Consider the case of the “good thief”. Consider what he actually did to attain immediate entry into heaven, and then ask yourself how you measure up to him. His case was no fluke. He entered Heaven without impediment because at the last minutes of his life he entered into a consummate surrender of vulnerability to Jesus and passed by this means without impediment into eternal glory. This was one of the most poorly behaved individuals recorded in the New Testament and yet this was his reward. What will yours be if you are sustained in the sight of God by your mere good behavior. Consider this when you set goals for yourself and remember one thing. Your one and only goal is to attain eternal communion with God in Heaven. Allow the expectation of an entirely intimate eternity with Him to rule all others in your life
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