One week into 2014 and by now, statistics say that 60% of New Year’s resolutions have already been abandoned. And by the end of January, that total will reach almost 90%! WOW!
But it doesn’t have to be that way – at least not for you. You don’t have to be part of the 90%. You can make 2014 different. Believe me, I struggle with New Year’s resolutions just as much as the next person and I don’t claim to have any secret tricks to make it any easier. But I have discovered some helpful hints throughout the years that have helped me stay on track.
The most important concept/idea to keep in mind is this (this is a good one to post above your desk or somewhere prominent):
We all end up somewhere, but few people end up somewhere on purpose.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to just end up some place. I want to end up in the right place…the place that God wants me to be…the place that marks success. But the question is how to get there?
In Stephen Covey’s famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he describes an exercise called “Beginning at the End.” It is helpful in that it forces you to think of what matters most in your life and then helps you to prepare a plan to accomplish it.
Imagine the scene. You’re in a big church sanctuary about to attend one of the most important occasions in your life. You’re surrounded by hundreds of people that you know well – family, friends, colleagues, neighbors – anyone who you consider an important part of your life. The church is packed but there’s no talking – only sounds of sniffling. There’s a big box in the front and everyone seems to be focused on that box. You know what’s in the box right???
YOU! This is your funeral and it’s about to begin. Here’s the question you need to answer today while you still can: WHAT DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WILL SAY ABOUT YOU?
What will your spouse say? What will your parents say? What will your friends say? What will your neighbors or co-workers say? What do you want them to say? How about God Himself – the True Judge – what do you think He’d want to say at the end of your life?
I know that isn’t the most pleasant thought to start your day with, but it’s something that needs to be addressed. I don’t know much about a lot of things, but if there’s one thing I do know it’s that you are going to get to that day. So you might as well get ready for it.
We spend enormous amounts of time and energy preparing for all kinds of things that will never happen – like me, every year clearing my schedule on Super Bowl weekend just in case my beloved Redskins end up making it to the big game (2014 is our year baby! Just wait and see!).
The point is that we prepare for so many things that will never happen but here is something that I guarantee will happen and yet we shy away from thinking about it. Is that a wise way to live?
What do you want your daughter to say about her daddy?
What do you want your best friend to say the kind of friend you were?
What do you want the members of your church to say about you?
What do you want the random people who sat behind you in traffic to say about you?
The idea isn’t to live to please others. In the end, what people say is insignificant – all that matters is what God says. But the idea is to live intentionally with a goal in mind. If my goal is to be a good father to my daughter, then it isn’t enough to just hope that I get there one day. I must ask myself “what am I doing today that is getting me closer to my goal?”
If my goal is to be a kind and generous person, then what am I doing today that is getting me closer to that goal? If my goal is to be growing in the knowledge and grace of God, what am I doing to get me there?
This applies to everything in your life. What are you doing to get you closer to the goals that you say are important? Remember, everyone ends up somewhere but few end up somewhere on purpose.
We need to begin thinking of what goals we want to achieve in life and then make a plan to get there – not just career goals and financial goals, but LIFE GOALS. And once we have those goals in place, we need to have a plan to try to get us there.
But don’t start with the plan until you’ve first set the goal! That is the point of this exercise. It makes you examine what’s really important and what you really want to accomplish in the days and years that God gives you on earth.
“LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days” Psalm 39:4
Discussion: What other exercises, strategies or resources can you recommend to help in setting life goals?