It’s no secret I’m just a big nerd. I’m driven by analytics, studies, numbers, and a lot of deciding factors in so much of what I do in daily life–so why has goal-setting been such a novel concept over the past few years? Honestly, it’s not that it is a new concept, it’s just that I’ve never placed the value of it in my personal existence before. With my educational background in curriculum development and assessment, I have a deep and thorough understanding of goals from an intellectual perspective–I get it, I’ve drunk the kool-aid, but I never carried over the application to my life.
In what I refer back to as my “Holy Spirit wake up call” when I told God that He had to lay it out for me because I was done trying to figure out this life that I was clearly miserably failing at, goals have just crept in as that structure in which God is using to help me to keep my eyes fixed on Him while helping my crazy brain to process His will and to steer my actions into a spirit of obedience. It’s where that s-word (submission) isn’t a bad thing.
Some goals are huge–God-sized and seem insurmountable, but they have logical and systematic steps that will get me from point A to point B. Others are tiny, but they are still important–they make a difference in my life and in God’s economy, and that’s an important thought for me to remember when I wonder why the heck am I doing what I’m doing. I’ll be quite honest that I haven’t always taken my goals seriously–we’ve had to create them as part of different review and visioning processes professionally and I’ve just gone through the motions to just fill in the blanks, but I’ve learned the importance of taking it seriously and the true impact that it does make not only in my personal life, but the ripple effect that it has in my relationships, ministry, interactions, etc.
I track my goals, and I have lots in various degrees of completion–your head would probably explode if I told you how many goals I actually have set/in progress, but these are benchmarks that I have set for myself, my faith (yes, you can set goals in that area–another topic for another time), my health, my ministry, my relationships, my professional growth, our financial security as we get closer to retirement, etc. They aren’t just intentions sent out to the universe–these are systematic and structured goals with benchmarks, game plans, and measurable outcomes for achievement. They are written down, they are accounted for, and there’s record and tracking for myself–and on occasion, for those that keep me accountable too. It’s good stuff.
I used to ignore goals telling myself the lie that I simply didn’t want to put in the work to achieve them, but I realize in hindsight it was more the fear of failure. I had to realize that I’m not competing with anyone else, that it’s just me vs. me and all it is a journey with God to become the person that He created me to be. Once I was able to release that burden off my shoulders and see there was no competition to be won, the pressure was gone and it wasn’t a race to the finish, but rather a time to dig in and establish the goals to honor the Almighty.
I was reading this passage today, from The Runner’s Book of Daily Inspiration: A Year of Motivation, Revelation, and Instruction by Kevin Nelson, for May 8, and it says this:
“I like finding out what my body can do.” -Charles Steinmetz, ultra-marathoner
“Funny thing about goal setting. Even before you achieve one goal, you start looking ahead to the next one.
Prior to embarking on a major project, you may look at it in its entirety and think how difficult it will be to achieve. So, you start. Once you get going and the inevitable early mistakes, you find a way to do things that works for you, and you make progress. After a while you make such rapid progress that you can see the end of the project.
Once that happens, if you are like most people, your dreams and ambitions do not suddenly stop. You begin to look past the goal at hand-a goal that once seemed so difficult-and onto new, more adventurous goals for the future.
This must be what motivates ultra-marathoners. Once upon a time a marathon was tough for them to do. Then, after achieving that near-impossible goal, they began to look ahead to even greater challenges that would test what their bodies could do.
You may not want to run ultra-marathons. But the longer you run, the more your goals will inevitably expand. This is a sign of progress, perhaps even a sign that you can test your body more.”
In my wildest dreams, I could have never fathomed God bringing me to this point…yet here I am. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense most days–I have to come back to the data and the numbers on paper to try and make sense of it all because my head and heart are still trying to catch up with my body and still reconcile it all. That’ll happen in God’s time, I’m confident of that. But, man, I wouldn’t trade this ride for the world–a far cry from the girl who couldn’t walk to the end of the street and back without wanting to die a couple years ago. Those goals have brought me a long way, but it’s not been alone and in my own strength and own will. I’m excited to see what happens next.