Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Goal Setting

I am a big believer in setting goals in order to accomplish something you want to accomplish or to change something you'd like to change. I've been setting goals since I was a little girl in gymnastics. Sometimes, I look back and can't believe how much I learned as a 6, 7, and 8 year old that I still apply to my life today.

Today, I just want to mention a few tips for setting successful goals. Lots of people set goals but fail to ever reach those goals and grow discouraged. Over the years and through some helpful resources, I have discovered some very beneficial principles when it comes to setting goals. I will share a list of resources at the end of the post, so you can check them out!

Tips for successful goal setting:

1. Pray about them.

I believe this first step is crucial. Psalm 37:4 says: Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. I don't think this verse means that if we seek God, He will give us whatever we want like some sort of magic genie or something. I think it means that if we seek God and His will for our lives, He will put specific desires in our heart. His desires for us will become our own desires. The things He wants us to accomplish will become the things we desire to accomplish more than anything else. He will give us the desires. Because of this, I believe it is essential to pray about our goals before we set them.

2.Write them down!

I mentioned that I began setting goals when I was in gymnastics. My coach would have us write down our goals at the beginning of our competition season. Then, we would look back over them throughout the year to see what we needed to do to accomplish the goals we had set for ourselves. My track coach had us do the exact same thing.

I learned that there is something powerful in writing down your goals. It's almost like it makes them "official" or something. Typing them out is ok, but there is just something about taking a piece of paper and pen and really writing them down.

3. Make them specific and give them a deadline

It is important to make your goals as specific as possible. I've heard people say, "Vague goals = vague results," and I believe that to be so true. Our goals need to be specific, so we know exactly what we want to accomplish.

For example, if you want to lose weight, don't just say, "My goal is to lose weight." Instead say, "I will lose X number of pounds." If you want to get out of debt your goal shouldn't be "to save more money." It should be "I will save X amount of dollars each month," or "I will pay X amount of dollars on my outstanding debt each month."

Get specific, but don't stop there. Give yourself a deadline. Have a specific date of when you'd like your goal(s) to be accomplished. Giving yourself a deadline requires you to move yourself into action. You know you won't be able to accomplish it by your specified date if you don't start doing something today.

4. Have a plan to start with.

In The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson says, "You have to start with a plan, but the plan you start with will not be the plan that gets you there." Basically, you just have to get started, but you don't have to start with a grand, huge plan. It is actually best to start small. Take one small step in the right direction. Master that step, do it consistently, and then take the next small step in the right direction. The plan that gets you started will not be the plan that gets you there. Your plan will change and grow as you change and grow. Be willing to start with small efforts and to see small results. Your small efforts will eventually compound to form the big results you desire.

5. Look at your goals every day.

Yes, I said every day. Looking at your goals daily helps you stay focused. You can carry them with you. Post them in different places around your house. Create a dream board with pictures that inspire you, motivate you, and remind you of the goals you're trying to reach. Then, place your dream board in a place where you will see it on a regular basis. There is even a website where you can create an online dream board: I created a digital dream board through this site, and posted it as the screensaver on my computer. This way, I see it every time I walk by the computer.

Posting little reminders around your house, in your car, in your office, or wherever you'll see them throughout the day builds your vision and helps you see exactly where you're going.

Have you already given up on some of your New Year's resolutions? Have you decided you'll wait until next year to get back on track? I hope that these tips will help you get going again or even get started on working toward something you'd like to accomplish. Set your goal, then break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks you can do consistently. Over time you will see results.

Here are a few of my favorite resources on goal setting and achieving success:

The Slight Edge - Jeff Olson

Success is Not an Accident - Tommy Newberry

The Exchange - Keith Kochner

Do you have any books about setting goals or achieving success that you really love? Anything you've found helpful when it comes to setting and achieving your goals? I'd love for you to share them in the comments!

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