Things I’m Learning // Goal-Setting

Being right smack in the middle of my college career, I have learned more and more over the past several months about goals. Now, I don’t mean the type of “#goals” you see all over social media. I’m talking hard-core, true-to-life, actually attainable goals.

Here recently, setting goals has been something I aspire to in a more deliberate way. I (might) even have the perfect scenarios played out in my mind. A perfectly productive day may start off looking something like this: I awake from a good night’s sleep at an early hour when the birds are singing and the sunshine is coming softly through my window. I neatly make my bed in my clean bedroom, walk into the kitchen with everything nicely put away and make coffee. I study God’s Word for about an hour while sipping said coffee. After the family eats breakfast together at a bright, springy breakfast table, everyone goes their separate ways while I study for several hours with occasional breaks of yoga and practicing piano.

Sounds so peaceful, doesn’t it? But unfortunately, the house isn’t always clean, breakfast isn’t always at a decent hour or even eaten at the same time by all family members. It isn’t always sunshining, nor do I study for 5 hours straight every day.

In other words, life happens.

And that’s okay.

I’ve come to learn that a big part of goal-setting occurs around your current schedule, rather than totally re-arranging it. I might like to have a goal of studying for 4-5 hours per day or writing a certain number of pages by the end of the week, but those goals may not be pragmatic all the time in regards to what is happening in reality.

So how does one set goals that agree with reality? First of all, in order for me to really be productive and accomplish {most of} the things I want to do every day, there has to be that dreaded, yet glorious thing called a….

To-do list.

Then, I must have the wonderful invention of my daily/monthly/yearly planner.

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Oh, and don’t forget the coffee. 😀

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Y’all, I couldn’t survive without them.

So to make goals for myself, these come in very handy. A to-do list helps me stay on track day by day, a planner helps me to see the big picture of what all is going on in my life, and they both help me keep myself accountable.

Now, that is not to say that I always stay on track. Remember, reality hits…on a daily basis. I fail daily, but God gives me His grace new every morning, to get up and try again (Lamentations 3:22-24).

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One method that has been known to help in setting goals of any kind is the acronym of “SMART” goals, listed below.

“SMART goals”:

  • Are they specific?
  • Are they measurable?
  • Are they attainable? 
  • Are they relevant?
  • Are they time-bound?

This list helps me to know whether the goals I set are ones I should strive for right now, or ones that I need to tweak a bit and save for later, whether these goals are for school or things I need to do around the house.

Now, where do goals fit into our Christian life? Does God care about the goals we set for ourselves? Ephesians 5:15-16 says to “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Similarly, Colossians 3:17, 23 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. … Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

“If you are alive and kicking, you have a purpose and really important work to do, and it demands the best that you have.” (Jonathan Brush)

As we can see, it is not only a biblical thing to manage our time, but a command from God. We must remember that though we may have many good things we can aim for throughout our lives, serving Him must be our greatest priority (2 Corinthians 5:9; Romans 14:8). God has laid out some very clear goals in Scripture that we must continually strive for as Christians, such as loving God with everything we have (Mark 12:30), sharing the gospel and reaching the lost (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16), and loving one another as Christ has loved us (John 13:34).

Does what I’m doing…

  1. Advance the gospel
  2. Build up the church
  3. Help me love people
  4. Give glory to God

(Sean McDowell)

I want God to be my standard for setting all of my goals. If I seek Him first, everything else will fall into place (Matthew 6:33). I love the hymn, “Be Thou My Vision”. To me, it completely sets the stage for what I want my life to focus on–HIM.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Blessed Redeemer and Savior Thou art –
Thou my best thought, by day or by night;
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, and Thou my true word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord.
Thou my great Father; Thine own may I be,
Thou in me dwelling and I one with Thee.

Riches I need not, nor vain, empty praise;
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and Thou only first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

So, whatever goals you may set in your life — in school, studying, or work– we must remember that it is God who knows what is best for us and will direct our steps when we trust in Him (Proverbs 16:9).

“Trust in the Lord will all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands.” (Psalm 138:8)

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