bits from bob....

Better Than Resolutions -- Set Goals

by Bob Young
January 1, 2020
©, 2020, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

If you are like the majority of people in our world, through the years you have made a lot of New Year's resolutions. Perhaps you have made resolutions at other significant points in your life. There is a good chance that you, as many other people, have found that resolutions are not very effective in changing your life. The truth is that for many people, resolutions don't work very well!

Resolutions generally start well and end poorly. Once a resolution is broken, the path can go downhill rapidly. Broken resolutions often lead to loss of resolve; the potential for good quickly diminishes. Against the typical long string of failed resolutions, I suggest a different (more biblical!) approach. Instead of making resolutions, why not write a list of goals for the coming year! The good thing about a list of goals is that you can start at any time -- even a few days after January 1. Making a list of goals will help you focus on the priorities of your life and what you want to accomplish in the coming year. Along with my list of goals, I also make a list of my priorities to help guide the year ahead. And before I make my lists, I review the major events and accomplishments from the past year to help me see how I am doing.

One person mails his list of goals to himself and lays it conspicuously on his dresser, unopened, as a daily reminder. At the end of the year, he opens the envelope, scores himself, and thinks about how to make the next year better.

While I like to write down my priorities, the truth is that I have no trouble remembering those things that matter most to me. Like the fellow with the unopened envelope, all I need most days is a gentle reminder -- that is why I keep my lists as part of my prayer list and in a conspicuous place in my planner! I divide my priorities into categories such as relationship with God, family, friends, spiritual growth, ministry and mission work, serving others, stewardship, mental growth, physical fitness (weight and exercise), financial, and personal. Some days I pray about and work on one area more than others, but they are all part of my life -- every day!

In my personal experience on my spiritual journey, having a goal is much better than making a resolution, because when I get distracted or sidetracked, the interruption is only temporary, and I can get right back on track. I never fail and nothing is "broken," even when I have a bad day. When I look at my life at the end of each year, I do not look at the failures and disappointments of certain days but at the overall progress and growth, at the accomplishments and results.

Goals give me a game plan that I can live with, live by, live for, and live up to. My goals are somewhat like a game of darts. I'd like to hit the bulls-eye every time, but if each day I can hit the mark on most of my priorities and goals, get close on others, and at least hit the dart board on all of them, I know that my life is moving forward.

I encourage you to think about foregoing the resolutions, and if you have already make a list, rip it up. Focus on goals. If you do not like my plan, devise one of your own. What is important is that you know where you're going and how you're going to get there. I encourage you to develop a plan. List the priorities, set the goals. And give it your best shot! What a great year 2020 is going to be!

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Last updated January 1, 2020