Good for you, former procrastinators! You’ve sought the Lord for your priorities this year, and used the “SMARTER” method to get specific about setting goals. You’ve broken those goals into steps that will move you toward accomplishing them. As you “calendarize” them by putting them on set dates, I’ll share a few more things that help me.
Use a planner. Write out steps to goals on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. There are oodles of planners. I sometimes use a plain spiral notebook, double page, columned off. It’s not necessary to be fancy; it is necessary to write out my intentions and how I break down the steps.
Pace myself using quarters. Thinking in terms of the whole year is a heavy weight. Instead, focus on one quarter at a time. I’m learning to start with the end in mind – the final “product.” To memorize Philippians, going backwards, what should I be working on October-December? Chapter 4. July-September? Chapter 3. April-June? Chapter 2. January-March? Chapter 1. Or, plan forward. Three month segments are doable, so we’re less likely to get discouraged and chuck it all. Some goals take four quarters to accomplish. Some can be done in just the first quarter, or the third. Designate. Avoid overload; remember margin.
Differentiate between goals and desires. With a goal, we have control of the factors that bring it about. With a desire, we don’t have that control. Of course, we desire our goals, but not everything we want is in our power to accomplish. We can discern what authority and responsibility God has given us – and what He’s not. I can’t force the boss to give me a raise. What can I do? I cannot save the souls of my children. God has given me the authority and responsibility to teach them scriptures, love them unconditionally, pray for them. In these areas I can set goals. But God is the one who saves.
Recognizing this difference brings relief. It disarms the enemy who accuses us with our “failures.” It frees us to focus where we have influence and let go where we don’t. We can spend time, energy, and thought where God directs and not fret unnecessarily or strive to exercise power He has not given us. (See Goals and Desires, March 2, 2015.)
Follow Caleb’s example. God declared that of the generation that left Egypt, only two men would enter the Promised land – Joshua and Caleb. Of Caleb God said, “Caleb…shall see it, and to him and his children I am giving the land on which he walked, because he wholly followed the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 1:36) Caleb got the blessing because he believed God and obeyed Him. Even his children were blessed. In bowling language, Caleb didn’t just talk about the game or make plans. He rolled the ball. He followed through completely on what God directed – and was blessed.
How will you “quarterize” your goals?