5 Goal Planning Myths


More than ever, it seems like everybody is into goal setting and that’s great! What’s not so great is when the popular info isn’t sound. Let’s tackle some of the fluffy myths we hear & believe and replace them with good, solid principles that will help you set & achieve worthy goals.

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1. Dreams & intentions are the same as goals.

If you examined your thought life and the words & phrases you use, do you spend more time talking about dreams or goals? How much time do you spend on what you “intend” to do? The reason this distinction is important is because GOALS are what you make plans to do and execute on those plans. DREAMS are often more like fairies that fly in and out of our heads. INTENTIONS are even less consequential than that.


  • I have a goal to lose 5 pounds, so I’m eating nutritious food at lunch and going for a run today.

  • I have a dream to be fit, so I’ll daydream about it without taking action.

  • I intend to be healthy, but all of a sudden…DONUTS! FRIED CHICKEN! AND 8-HOUR NETFLIX BINGE!

Of course, I’m not giving weight loss advice here (and I eat donuts!!), but these are clear distinctions between goals, dreams and intentions.

All goals start with a dream, but most dreams never become anything.

Goals are the dreams you’re taking action on today.

2. Every goal is worthy of your attention.

The other day, a friend of mine asked me this question: “How do you stay so focused throughout the year?”

My answer: I say “no” a whole lot. I say no to distractions. I say no to too many activities & responsibilities. I say no to good, godly things that aren’t God’s will for me specifically in this season.

If I adopted everyone else’s goals, I wouldn’t know who I am, where God is leading me, and what I’m supposed to do with my days. But through openly (and sometimes verbally) saying “no” to the pressure to be someone else and do something else, I create a clear path in my mind of who I AM becoming.

In case you haven’t affirmed this idea in awhile, let me tell you:


You don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. You can kindly say “no” to anything outside of God’s plan for you.

Even if you can’t express why a task isn’t right for you, you can still say “no”.

Stay focused on the things that God is growing you in through this season. Don’t get distracted by all the generally positive, holy things that you step away from His good, pleasing, and perfect will for your life. Your days have been handcrafted by the Master Craftsman. It’s not generic. It’s not a clone-stamp. He has specific seasons & pathways for you.

Seek God to know which goals are worthy of your attention.

3. If you didn’t accomplish your goal, you failed.

When I evaluate my goal progress, “failure” is relative. Not achieving 100% of my goal within my time frame isn’t failure. Giving up on a goal is failure. Deciding I’m unwilling to do what it takes to achieve my goals is failure. But not hitting my goals 100% by the end of the year — THAT’S NOT FAILURE!

I set goals to make concrete ideals for areas I want to improve. Last year, I set a goal to write 50 blog posts. I didn’t achieve it. I wrote 43 blog posts. However, I also completed a 40,000-word draft of my first book, so I’m not sweating it! See, the goal isn’t as important as the direction and momentum you’re creating. My blog count goal was about getting into the habit of consistently producing content. I did that through other means, including drafting a book, writing all my social content, and sending letters to friends.

Hitting the goal isn’t the most important result. Growth is.

4. Goals should be time-bound.

Pardon my devil’s advocate approach, but I don’t agree as much with the “T” in the S.M.A.R.T. goals acronym. Yes, put a time-frame around your goals, but don’t be surprised nor dismayed when your goals don’t fit in your timeline. In fact, go ahead and assume that you’re probably not dreaming very big if you can put nice, neat little timeframe boxes around your goals.

I create annual goals and my timeframe is within the calendar year. I complete around 75-85% of these goals. The rest of them, I keep trucking toward, even though they’re outside of my chosen timeframe.

The important thing is to remember WHY you’re seeking that goal and to be patient & persistent with the amount of time & growth required to achieve your goals.

I like to think of it this way. I have a goal to lead the prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. someday. The growth it’s going to take for me to be invited to that breakfast, not to mention leading prayer, is not within a timeframe I can grasp yet. If it happens next year, great! If it happens when I’m 40, great! I’m going to be no less happy if I have to wait a decade.

Keep pushing toward your goals regardless of how long it takes.

5. Annual goals are unnecessary.

If I were to challenge you to look back at last year and tell me if you used your time well, would you say yes?

What about for 2017? Or 2016?

Creating annual goals & following a goal plan is necessary…if you want to use your time intentionally. Time passes by so quickly. How many of us said, “I can’t believe it’s already December!” last month? Using your time intentionally is the difference between:

The year is over and I don’t know where it went.


The year is over and I know exactly what I did with it.

If you have big dreams for your life, you need to set annual goals to achieve them. Big dreams do NOT include: buying a Lambo, marrying rich, being skinny again. Those are shallow dreams.

Big dreams look more like this:

  • I want to publish 100 New York Times best-sellers. (-Yours Truly)

  • I want to own my own business and successfully run it for at least 5 years before selling it for a good profit. (-A friend of mine)

  • l want to create a charity that relieves the water crisis for 663 million people. (-Charity Water)

Annual goals help you spend your time intentionally.

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Alright, I’ve given you the myths that I’ve seen swirling around this goal-planning season called The New Year.

What other myths have you detected?
What advice has helped you plan your goals?

Leave a comment and let me know!

With love,