A Different Way to Set Goals


Do you have a goal or dream that God has placed in your heart? Maybe it’s time to start prayerfully moving toward it with the process in mind.

Maybe like me you have heard that if you want to achieve a goal that you should write down what you want to accomplish and when you want to accomplish it. Maybe like me, you have also placed little sticky notes all over your bathroom mirror that said, “I will lose 10 pounds by December 15th.” Or you have made positive statements about how you will transform your life in five years and six months. While there is nothing wrong with setting goals with deadlines if they are in agreement with God’s plan, there is often a better way.

This is to focus on the process of attaining a goal rather than on the outcome.

For example, if I want to lose weight, rather than focusing on losing 20 pounds by a particular date—which may or may not be realistic—I need to focus on the process of changing my diet and exercising on a regular basis. Then, when I consistently alter my habits, the positive outcome will naturally follow.

Or, if I want to become an author, I can’t control if a publishing house will offer me a contract. So instead of focusing on becoming published, I focus on the process of creating a solid book proposal for an editor’s review. This will naturally place me in a position for God to work on my behalf if it’s His will.

I can think of several times in my life when focusing on an outcome rather than on the process of attaining a particular goal left me exhausted, irritated, and frustrated. Plus, I wanted to give up. Why? Because my expectations weren’t realistic—and they weren’t what God had in mind. But when I have stayed in the moment, remained sensitive to God’s will, and focused on taking small steps, two things have resulted:

More fun, more joy

Every now and then I meet someone who says, “I have wanted to write a book for a long time” or “I have a book idea outlined, but I just haven’t ever gotten around to writing it.” When I hear statements like these, I tell the person that writing a book is indeed a big job, but it’s just like any other big job. If you write a little at a time, pretty soon you’ll be done. Focusing on the process of writing rather than looking at the big picture is easier—and it’s a whole lot more fun.

One reason why many people never get around to writing their book is because the idea is overwhelming. They focus on the outcome. If you want to enjoy the journey, focus on the process. Then take one little step at a time.

Trusting God for what we can’t control

There is very little that we truly control in life. When we admit this, and focus on process rather than on outcomes, we will allow God to remain in the driver’s seats of our lives. As a result, we will remember that it’s not our responsibility to get ourselves to our destiny. There is such freedom in this!

The results of living a surrendered life by focusing on process rather than outcomes produces many of the fruits of the Spirit, including joy. It’s only when we become inflexible and demanding about what we want to accomplish, when we want to accomplish it, and how we want to accomplish it that we become stressed, anxious, and lose our joy.

This doesn’t mean we can’t have dreams and goals. But it does mean that we remain surrendered as we move toward a goal, focus on the process, and let God have the final say.

Do you have a goal or dream that God has placed in your heart? Maybe it’s time to start prayerfully moving toward it with the process in mind.

John C. Maxwell
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Paula Hendricks
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Anne Graham Lotz
John C. Maxwell
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Craig Groeschel
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