To live fully and not just exist we need to plan ahead and be proactive about the direction our lives should take. We should not wait for the future to come to us but we need to boldly approach the future. The concept of Goal setting falls within broader concept of life management and is actualised through a Personal Development Plan (PDP). Generating a PDP has been defined as “… the process of creating action plans based on self awareness, reflection, and goal setting for self improvement”. In this process the most important step is to define clearly what you want to achieve and improve in your life.
The Bible encourages us to make plans(Prov.20:18) and God himself is a planner(Jer.29:11) Jesus affirmed the significance of planning when he taught about counting the cost of being a disciple (Luke 14:28-30). There is nothing God-honouring about floating about in life, buoyed by every wave of activity without a clear sense of mission, direction and achievement. Every musician, athlete, teacher, speaker, actor businessman, and student who ever made a meaningful contribution has tapped into the power of goal setting backed by a life of continuous discipline.
However our plans and goals must not be products of mere strong wills and human motivation for our lives are not our own. The goals must be aligned with God’s purposes for our lives (Prov.16:9), forged out of prayerful consideration before God (Prov.16:3), while all the time acknowledging that our lives are lived under the overall oversight of a loving and sovereign God. Still we should not feel we are being presumptuous or arrogant by setting what Jim Collins, a management expert, has called-BHAGs-Big Hairy Audacious Goals.
For us to succeed in goal setting we must remember its essentials:
1.Goals are of three types; Short-term, Mid-term and Long-term goals.
2.Good goals should be SMART, reviewable and acceptable with regard to our values.
3.They must be written down not in tacked somewhere in our memory.
4.Goals are a statement of faith for they relate to the future and they help us to look forward.
Depending on your stage in life, you will need to set goals for different aspects of your life namely;Spiritual, Family, Financial, Career, Academic (for students), Social (relationships) Ministry Involvement, and Physical (health) aspects. In each of the above areas, you need to state clearly where you are before crafting as clearly and sharply as possible where you want to be both in the short, medium and long term.
It may come as a surprise to some that the setting of such goals though critical, is not the hardest part of the process. Where the rubber meets the road is in giving legs to the goals so that they can walk and take you to where you want to go. To achieve this, three other disciplines are required:
1. Write down the smaller steps required to fulfil each goal-the concrete initiatives for realising (reaching) the goals. Break the goals into smaller steps that build up to the main goal. Achieving these smaller steps gives you the psychological boost to tackle the other steps.
2. Review your progress regularly-Come up with a regular way of measuring and assessing progress. How will know you know you are making progress? > some of the helpful questions in this process include: Did I achieve my goals? what went right? what went wrong? what follow-up action is required?. Based on the feedback, you can either revise the goals or reset a new goal in that area.
3. Share with trusted confidants about your goals for accountability sake- We all need people who will prod, cheer and challenge us to achieve the goals we have set. Without people holding us accountable for the goals and the actions we have set for ourselves, we easily chicken out of or down size our goals when we face obstacles and challenges, something that will definitely happen from time to time.
It is of course true that life will not come to standstill if we do not set goals for there are many people who do not and get by in life. However, when we want to get the most out of the opportunities and resources that God has given us and to bring out the best in us and maximize our productivity, we must embrace planning as a whole and goal setting especially both as individuals and organizations.
Have you set goals for the various aspects of your life or are you haphazardly doing any and all things that come your way?