“Everyone ends up somewhere, but not everyone ends up somewhere on purpose.”
That’s a sentence that I heard several years ago and it’s stuck with me ever since. Of all the fears in life that I have (airplanes, pushy salespeople, being stuck on airplanes with pushy salespeople), my greatest fear is getting to the end of my life and realizing that I missed out on what God had in store for my life.
The regret is too much for me to swallow. The feeling of “I missed out” on what God had planned for me or for my family or for my church drives me to be very intentional about the way I live my life and plan for each year.
I don’t want to just end up somewhere; I want to end up somewhere on purpose.
NOTE: this was the topic of last Sunday’s message at The Well in case you want to check it out.
Today I’ll share the process I used to plan my year and set my goals for 2017. It’s a process I’ve been using for about 5 years now (those who attended Momentum 2014 heard me speak about it there).
It’s based on a program called BEST YEAR EVER. If you’re serious about setting goals, I highly recommend you check it out when it becomes available again at the end of the year.
Here’s how I do it.
STEP ONE: IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITY
The process begins not with pencil and paper, but rather with faith and a prayer.
Once Jesus saw two blind men and asked them “what do you want Me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41). After hearing their request to be able to see, He said “According to your faith, let it be to you” (Matthew 9:29).
So before jumping to the actual goals (lose 10 pounds, stop smoking, get a promotion), you start by imagining the possibility of a whole new “you” at the end of 2017. Don’t start by thinking about where you are now; imagine the possibility that you could be a whole new person at the end of the year.
If you start with “where am I now?”, you’ll end up setting goals that will only marginally improve your life. Instead, start by asking “what do I believe God can do in/through me in 2017?”
STEP TWO: PROCESS THE PAST
I blogged about this two weeks ago so I’ll just remind you briefly of what I wrote there: processing your past allows you to prepare for your future.
Don’t skip over this step.
STEP THREE: DESIGN YOUR YEAR
This is the fun part. This is where you set goals. The idea is to set 7-10 goals across all the different aspects of my life: career, finances, spiritual goals, relationships, physical health, etc.
Push yourself to think across these various aspects and not just what pops into your head first. Each part is connected and it’s hard to be healthy in one area if you’re unhealthy in another.
For example, the most important goal I set every year is the one involving my physical health. It gets set even before my spiritual or relational goals. Why? Because I know that when I eat good, I feel good. And when I feel good, I have the energy needed to pursue all my other goals. I’ve also noticed that eating healthy and exercising regularly are “easy wins”; they’re a good way to get some forward momentum rolling right off the bat.
If you’re curious as to what my specific goals are, I’ll be sharing about some of them (the non-private ones) today on my scope at 12:30 EST.
STEP FOUR: FIND YOUR WHY
If you don’t know your WHY, you’ll end up losing your HOW.
Hopefully the goals you’re setting are BIG, life-changing goals. If that’s the case, then you have to expect that it won’t be easy. You may be motivated to make those changes today, but will you be just as motivated come April or May? Or when things get busy at work? Or when you get sick and miss a few days?
The way I remain motivated is by writing down WHY this goal matters to me and how accomplishing it will affect my life. Figure out your personal motivation and write it down so you’ll have it ready when you need it.
STEP FIVE: COME UP WITH AN ACTION PLAN
This step is critical: you must come up with 1-2 action steps for each goal that you can take immediately. You need to get the ball rolling downhill as soon as possible. If you don’t, research says that with every day that passes, you will be less likely to take any action on your goals.
Why? Because as we learned in physics class with inertia: an object in motion stays in motion and an object at rest stays at rest.
Get your goals in motion by taking even a tiny step. Regardless of how small it may seem, just get the process started.
So there you have it! That’s my system. It’s certainly not the only way to do it, but it’s gotten me this far in life. And I hope and pray that it can be of help to you in your effort to not just end 2017 somewhere, but to end 2017 somewhere on purpose.