Plan ahead. Set goals. Be deliberate. Stay on target.
Goals you have deliberately thought through and determined to pursue are usually good, important, and needed. You would not typically set flippant goals for yourself. The goals you set are usually significant to you in some way—perhaps for personal, spiritual, or intellectual growth. Sometimes they are significant to you, but not others. Goals are often hard to keep, and without support they can be even harder.
Here’s the thing, you will falter! With or without support, you will falter. Whether the goal is great or small, you will falter. Why? Well, you are not perfect. Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to make. It is easy to slide back into the “norm.”
Your goals are outside of your norm. That’s why they are goals! Knowing you will falter is not an excuse to give up and quit when you do falter. Instead, this knowledge can and should be the knowledge you need to prepare you for the challenge of “getting back on the horse” when you fall off. Knowing in advance you will be tempted to quit when you misstep in the pursuit of your goal is the power you need to press on. Knowing is half the battle.
The research available regarding what it takes to set a new habit is very varied. Personally, I haven’t found any good information to “bank” on. What I do know is the the firmly anchored habits that exist in our lives become rituals. For example, I have been writing in a journal off and on for thirty-eight years. In the beginning, it was a struggle to keep it up. In fact, there are several periods in the thirty-eight years that I did not write for months or even a year. However, I always “got back on the horse.” Now, journal writing is such a habit, I would call it a ritual. When I miss a day, I don’t have to “make” myself pick it back up the next day—it’s automatic. Not to write in my journal is now odd. Journal writing is no longer a goal. It is a part of my life.
Be prepared to falter. Know you will need to “get back on track.” Predetermine you will not let a setback stop you. Give yourself a little flexibility regarding the completion of your goal. For example, there may be a day in the week that it is impossible for you to work on your goal—that’s OKAY! Perhaps you cannot work on your goal when you take a family vacation or are away on a business trip—that’s OKAY! Build interruptions like this into your planning. When you have a big snag in pursing your goal, perhaps you have missed multiple steps in your process or you haven’t completed a daily goal for many days, revisit the reason you set your goal and get back at it! You can do it!
Remember these Scriptures:
- I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13 ESV).
- And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17 ESV).
Search the Scripture. Find the verse(s) God impresses upon you for motivation as you strive toward the completion of your goal(s).
Whatever goals you set for yourself, in order to make them a reality in your life, the following are essential:
1. Set Your Goals — Challenging yet reasonable
2. Establish Strong Motivation — The reason you set your goals
3. Continuous Challenge — The constant reminder to stay on target
4. Adjust Your Goals — Adjust the goal if it is unreasonable
5. Acknowledge you may falter — Predetermine a falter will not stop you
But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded (2 Chronicles 15:7 ESV).