Do you set goals for personal growth?

Happy new year to you. I am a self-confessed goal setter. I have had this habit for many years and as I look back over my journey, I have seen many goals reached. But I am also aware of the failures in the process. Failure is part of growth, and we need to build resilience to push through the failures and press on to see the development we long for. Any research scientist will tell you that failure is always teaching us knowledge of what doesn’t work which is always helpful. Every breakthrough has a story to tell of failures.

So, as we enter a new year and everyone is thinking of ‘New year’s resolutions’, don’t let your next thought be ‘yeah I tried that and failed and so I don’t want to even try to set goals anymore.’ I know someone who took their driving test nine times before they passed. I don’t think I want to be a passenger in their car but hey – they passed. They persevered and made it.

Basketball superstar Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He once said, “I have missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I have missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Here’s a few reasons why we give up:

  • We set unattainable goals that get us discouraged and we give up very quickly.
  • We set goals that are too easy to reach, there’s no stretch and no sense of achievement.
  • We lose motivation to follow through as general life gets busy.
  • We aren’t really passionate about the goals we set and again lose motivation.
  • Circumstances beyond our control enter our lives and goals take a step back.

So, is that it? Do we just throw in the towel and say, ‘Goals don’t work?’ I don’t think so.

Isn’t there a deep longing to get better at what we do?  To do something that is larger than ourselves? To make a difference in people’s lives? To leave a legacy? To gain a skill? To become wiser? To finish well? To deepen our devotional life? Something that is worthwhile.

So what are some personal life goals that you could be thinking about? Personal development is thinking about my body, soul and spirit and looking after myself, making the most of the time, seeking fulfilment of my passions, developing my relationship with God and my spiritual disciplines to support that, living out godly values and character and becoming more like Jesus.

Dr. Seuss wanted to write children’s books.  His first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected by twenty-seven publishers. The twenty-eighth publisher, Vanguard Press, sold six million copies of the book. And all of his children’s books went on to sell a total of more than 100 million copies.

Steven Spielberg wanted to be a film maker but was rejected three times when he applied to the USC School of Theater, Film and Television. He ended up going to Long Beach State. After directing and producing such blockbuster hits as Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Jurassic Park, The Color Purple, Saving Private Ryan, and Lincoln, he now sits on the Board of Directors of the USC film school, and donates a million dollars a year to the school.

Sometimes personal goals involve stopping doing something. In order to stop doing something, psychologists would tell us that we have to replace that negative habit with something new. We have to interrupt our bad habits that are on auto pilot and it can be harder than we think. That’s why we need family and friends to help us. We need to keep ourselves accountable and having others check in with us to help us stay committed. 

One of the key questions to ask when you set a goal is: Why do I want to do this?  If you can answer that question with a powerful answer, you stand a greater chance of following through with the goal. It’s got to grab you. It’s got to be meaningful to you.

If you want to achieve goals, you need to know how to write them, how to remind yourself of them and where to write them down and keep them in front of you.
You don’t start a goal with – I want to, it would be nice to, I am thinking about…! It takes careful thinking through what you plan on accomplishing and write it in a positive way to motivate and stir your faith. Goals are like faith statements. This is who I plan to become by…, this is how I will communicate by…, this is what I will accomplish by… etc.  This is followed by a lot of hard work and steps to take in order to see this happen in reality. 

Here are 5 steps to get you on the road to change:

Step 1: Write a few manageable but stretching goals that you are motivated to achieve, that are part of your passion and that will reap rewards for you and you will be excited to complete.  

Step 2: Make them smart – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time oriented. Check the wording to make sure they pass the test.

Step 3: Make a plan to organise and plan your week at a certain time every week. Put your action plan for each goal in your calendar and then look at your calendar every day.

Step 4: Tell someone about your goals and ask them to help keep you accountable. It helps knowing that someone is going to ask you ‘how are those goals going?’ Reward yourself when you complete or make certain markers along the way.

Step 5: At the end of the month, and then at the end of 3 months, have a review of how you are doing and if necessary rewrite your goals to be more meaningful or to connect with you in a greater way.

Follow through on these steps and you will see some goals reached and change taking place.

Until next month

Stephe Mayers

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