“Before you do anything, put your trust totally in God and not in yourself. Then every plan you make will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3)
By: Paige Smith
With 2017 quickly approaching many of us are reflecting on the past year and thinking of everything we want to accomplish in this new year.
We want to be more disciplined, have better relationships, eat healthier, travel more, pay off debt, and learn a new language, among several others.
Yet after the invigorating excitement of dreaming of the possibilities of accomplishing these goals wares off, we are usually left with feelings of defeat and discouragement.
Frustrating questions can arise such as ‘What are my goals?’, ‘How can I even accomplish them?’ Or even a defeating, I didn’t accomplish them last year why bother making them this year?
If you’ve found yourself wrestling with any of these range of emotions and concerns you’re not alone.
The good news is we are not without hope! There are practical and spiritual principles we can all apply to help ensure success in our New Year goals.
I love the Proverbs mentioned above because it reminds us of the sovereignty of God in our lives and how our success ultimately comes from us trusting and following God’s guidance and leadership.
I encourage you today to give yourself a clean slate and let every old thing pass away! Leave past mistakes, regrets, and failures in the past and determine today to press into 2017, you deserve a new beginning and a fresh start.
Here are 5 practical steps for making your goals work for you.
1. Take time out to reflect on your past year and where you envision yourself going this new year. This is great to do while journaling or during a listening prayer time with peaceful music. Write everything that comes to mind and keep it in a safe place to later organize into concrete goals.
Some may have lost faith in creating New Years goals after years of seeing them go uncompleted or unfinished. However studies show even the simple act of writing a goal down significantly increases a person’s chances of accomplishing it (“Why You Should be Writing Your Goals, Forbes.com).
2. Take those journals, thoughts, and jottings and ask the Lord what His plans are.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21 ESV).
Without God, we truly can’t accomplish anything of value. God often speaks to us to the desires and dreams in our hearts but He also may be speaking something we hadn’t thought of or He may have a different timing than we originally thought.
Allow God to speak to you about His plans for this year. He may choose to speak through His word, His voice, or seasoned godly leaders in your life or all of the above. God promises we will find what we seek, let’s seek His will for our lives into this New Year!
3. With your list of goals for the New Year, begin to separate them into categories. Some categories you could use are Spirituality, Health, Family, Finances, Personal Development, Career, Education, and any others that work with your life and goals.
4. Refine your goals with the tool, SMART goals. Educators and business leaders alike have attested to the effectiveness of this template and often share it with their employees and students.
For each goal make sure it fits the characteristics of a SMART goal.
A SMART goal is:
Many times it is difficult for us to see our growth or track whether we are completing our goals not because they were bad goals, but simply because they were impossible to measure the completion of them.
For example, a goal such as “get in better shape” could be hard to measure the actual completion of and lead to feelings of defeat of feeling like you’ve never reached it.
This goal would become a SMART goal by changing it to “Do 30 minutes of cardio 3 days a week, drink 8 glasses of water a day, and do 20 crunches and push-ups 4 times a week from Jan 1 2017 to March 1 2017.”
The second goal achieves the same end result of “getting in better shape” but unlike the first it is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive.
5. Find an accountability partner or mentor to help check in with your progress with your goals. So many modern day and biblical figures we admire can attribute much of their success to having godly mentors that walked them along their journeys.
Look over your goals and find people that already seem to be walking in victory in those areas and ask if they will help you be accountable to reaching your goals.
A mentor who you check in with weekly or biweekly is also vital to seeing your growth this year. At the beginning of the year you can give them a copy of your goals and commit to keeping them updated throughout the year.
The most encouraging thing is that God promises to have good plans for each one of us! God will fulfill the purposes He has for us (Psalm 138:8). We aren’t alone in accomplishing our goals, but He is with us every step of the way.
The plans for our life begin and end with God, who is the Author and Finisher of our fates. He lovingly penned every page of our lives before we were even conceived!
Let’s put our full trust not in our own strength to accomplish our goals, but in the power of God that can work through us! Nothing is impossible with our God.
“Now to Him that who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us” (Ephesians 3:20)
We hope this article was encouraging for you and you find fresh vision and renewed hope for the new year!
We invite you to share any comments and to join JLO in our annual New Year’s Daniel’s Fast, “Rising Women” where we will be praying and fasting together for vision and clarity for 2017!