How To Start Goal Planning: don't start with goals


I want to share some hard-fought, hard-won secrets when it comes to goal planning. More than ever before, writing goals is trendy, which means a lot of people are sharing their ideas. Amidst all the talk, I still felt led to share my perspective because…

I’ve proven my system.

For 9 years running, I’ve consistently hit most of my goals. Recently, here’s how I’ve fared:

2014 - 71%
2015 - 72%
2016 - 80%
2017 - 86%
2018 - 92%

The craziest part is that last year I set 41 goals! **Don’t try this at home, kids** …which tells me I’m getting better at setting good goals just as much as I’m getting better at persisting toward them.

Here’s the key difference between every other methodology I’ve seen and the one I’ve used for nearly a decade:

I don’t start with goals

Most people start the year musing about their goals.
Most people don’t achieve their goals.

Because they aren’t meaningful! When life presents a tough choice, you don’t do the hard stuff; you do the important stuff.

Have you ever set a goal to read your Bible every morning? But then you overslept and were running late for work. So you skipped reading your Bible. BUT YOU DIDN’T SKIP BRUSHING YOUR TEETH! Because curing morning breath is important.

So it is with goals. If they aren’t important to you, you won’t persist.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

As believers, we know the Lord’s will is for His glory. We are loved & protected as a part of His glory. But when we plan to become famous and filthy rich and other pursuits that are ultimately going to destroy us and distract from God’s glory, He isn’t establishing our steps any longer. As Christians, our goals aren’t nearly as important as another factor in goal planning…

Start with values

What does God value for His holy, chosen, Heaven-bound people? You and me. The bride of Christ. What values is God cultivating in us?

  • Patience — to wait *with a good attitude* for God to move in the situation

  • Love — to give yourself away so freely that people see God’s pure love through you

  • Generosity — to give your time & stuff in a way that reflects that Daddy in Heaven is the supplier of all your needs

Proverbs also says this:

Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish;
but he who keeps the law [of God & man]—blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he.
Proverbs 29:18 AMPC

For believers, our vision of God’s redemption is only possible when we keep the Bible fresh in our minds. When we feast on the words of God, our values become godly.

What values is God cultivating in you this season?

Integrity, patience, kindness, marital bliss, self-confidence, faithfulness, peacefulness, creativity, clarity, perspective, quality relationships

It doesn’t have to fit into a tidy box or all be nouns (like the list above - haha!).

Every year, my biggest value is spiritual growth. Last year, I set 4 goals to enhance this value:

  1. Spend time with God daily.

  2. House of Power — Set aside a special hour for prayer weekly.

  3. Own The Moment (inspired by Carl Lentz). This is my challenge to obey God’s voice showing me how to love people every day, even when it derails my tidy plans.

  4. Go do things in faith. I challenged myself to put feet on my faith. I invited people into my home. I extended apologies first. I drafted my first book. I went on my first missions trip and my first & second overseas travels.

At the end of the year, did I read my Bible 365 times? No, but I probably did 300 times. And that’s better than the year before.

Another great mindset to have is this:

Progress > Perfection

As you create your goals, don’t accidentally turn them into resolution. When you declare that you absolutely must do something or you absolutely MUST NOT do something, it becomes a resolution to be perfect, and your first mistake breaks your commitment. Instead, challenge yourself to be more consistent in progressing toward your ideal goal.

My Goal Setting Method

Today, let’s focus on the method for deciding your goals & implementing a plan.

I always start by listing the values I feel God developing in me. Then I set goals around each value. From there, I set baby steps to take daily or weekly. And I finish by scheduling those baby steps throughout the current month.

For example:

  1. I value spiritual growth.

  2. My 4 goals are listed above.

  3. Daily, I spend time with God. Weekly, I set aside an Hour of Power. Daily, I journal about what I think God’s leading me to do that looks differently than my plans and I pray about it. Then I go do it, knowing that God calls me to faith action, not just belief.

  4. I block off time for each of these activities in my planner. If you use your iCal, create an appointment — and keep your commitment to yourself!

I thought it would be a valuable asset to offer My 2019 Goal Plan template for you. You can purchase it here:

(It’s an immediate digital download.)

I hope this year brings all the worthy, meaningful progress you desire God to work in you! If you have any questions, leave a comment. I’d love to talk more specifically about YOUR 2019 GOALS!

With love,

Featured photo by Isabella Costello.