A study was conducted with students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program. The students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”
Of all the students, only 3 percent had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals, but they were not in writing; and a whopping 84 percent had no specific set goals. Ten years later, the members of the class were interviewed again, and the findings were amazing! The 13 percent of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all. And what about the 3 percent who had clear, written goals?
They were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.
The moral of the story is that goals matter. In fact, I believe goals are the difference between fulfilling the vision God has given you and falling short. Simply put, goals are dreams with deadlines. Goals force us to think about our future and get specific about what we desire to accomplish.
I have a personal rule of setting goals each year for the coming year. These are not resolutions. Everyone knows that resolutions are thrown out with the Christmas tree. The reason many people don’t change is that they don’t set specific, measurable, and attainable goals that can propel them to where they ultimately desire to be.
3 Guidelines for Goal Setting
Be specific about your goals.
Too many times, we set goals that are impossible to measure, and thus, we don’t know if we’ve reached them. Here is an ambiguous goal: “To honor God.” Honoring God is a worthy endeavor and should be the reason we exist, but how do I know if I’m reaching this goal? A more specific goal might be “I want to invest in my relationship with God by devoting fifteen minutes each day to prayer and Bible reading.” While that obviously doesn’t cover every aspect of my relationship with God, it is specific and I can look at the clock to see if I am meeting my goal or not. Is the goal attainable?
If you’re the pastor of a church of one hundred, don’t set a goal that you want to grow to ten thousand attendees in the next six months. I don’t say this because I believe it is impossible. Jesus said, “With God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27, NKJV).
Make Them Attainable
My encouragement is to set goals that are attainable, but not presumptuous. At the same time, don’t set goals that are too low. Stretch yourself, and expect God to work in your life and grow you into the person He wants you to be.
Review your goals.
It is not enough to write out goals and file them away in a drawer where they will never see the light of day. I recommend you write out your goals and put them in a place where you can see them. Review your goals weekly, and think through practical steps to achieving your goals.
So, where do you want to be in the next twelve months? Instead of being frustrated every year about how things never change, make goal setting a normal part of your life, and watch how God uses them to transform your life.
Next Week I’ll write about the different areas of goals setting. So tune in for that. You can find out all of this and more in my free ebook, “The Productive Pastor.”