We are well into the first month of the New Year and not only have we begun a new year but a new decade. Have you set goals for the year? If not, it’s not too late to set goals and work to achieve them.
I love setting goals and dreaming big but for years, my intentions to pursue my dreams and achieve goals often fizzled out by the end of January. Turns out I’m not alone — only eight percent of people who set goals in the beginning of the year ever achieve them.
What can we do to ensure we are among the eight percent who achieve their goals?
How can we finally break free and pursue life-long dreams such as write that book, start a profitable business, be fit and healthy, be debt free and whatever dream you may have?
So here in the early days of 2020, I’d like to offer twelve ways to ensure that 2020 will be different.
Fix your eyes on Jesus.
It begins with Jesus and it ends with Jesus. Make the choice to seek Him daily; to sit at His feet and hear His quiet voice speaking to your heart. Behold Him. Ask Him to help you see people — including you — as He sees them. Never lose sight of Him. And whatever desires and gifts He may have given you, never let any of them take priority over Him.
Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you as well.” Mt. 6:33 We can work with all of our mental and physical energy to pursue our dreams but unless God is in it, we will labor in vain.
The dreams and talents you have are gifts from above but even those gifts can go awry when we lose sight of Jesus.
A tool I use is my daily prayer journal which is also my planner. The daily scripture verses keep me anchored in Jesus.
Know what you want.
“What do you want me to do for you?” It’s a question Jesus asks a blind man in the Gospel of John. The need seems so obvious — so why would Jesus ask, “What do you want me to do for you?” I believe it’s because God wants us to know what we want and ask Him — even if it’s an obvious need.
What do you want God to do for you this year?
My family lived through a painful crisis last year that left us with over $29,000 in debt — with about $5,000 of it in medical expenses. So one of my obvious needs and requests is to get out of debt. I need God’s wisdom, strength and self-discipline to get our family out of debt.
To accomplish your goals this year, you have to know where you want to end up at the close of 2020. And once you know that, you can present your request to Father.
Visualize your goals & dreams
Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you.” In years past, I’ve written goals down in notebooks, in the Evernote app and elsewhere but by the time February rolled around, I’d forgotten my goals. Life happened and without realizing it, I’d gotten lost in meeting daily demands of life — which when you have two teens can be overwhelming at times.
But then I discovered vision boards. In a nutshell, a vision board is similar to the poster projects you created in elementary school. You take a poster board and stick visual images (copy, paste and print from the Internet) of what your goals and dreams are for the year.
One of my goals/prayers for this year is to move into a home of our own. I’d like one with lots of windows and a sunroom. So I printed a picture of a beautiful sunroom and stuck it on my board. My dreams for this year seem outlandish at first glance but I wanted to dream as BIG as I could and I’d encourage you to do the same.
The next key thing is placing your vision board where you will see it daily. Mine is next to my desk. I’m reminded of my goals and pray for God’s strength and self-discipline to work and do my best. Now, don’t misunderstand — my happiness is not dependent on getting everything on my vision board but trusting God for His timing and outcome.
“Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Ps. 37:4
Chart the course.
What path will you take? Here in the beginning days of 2020 — and it’s hard to visualize how we will end up where we want to be at the end of the year. One of the things we can do differently is to have a clear plan of action. Write out the first 20 steps you need to take. You will naturally write down the bigs steps but keep going until you have written the big steps into small, bite-size steps.
Most of us have very little margin in our lives and sometimes what keeps us from getting started on a big goal such as writing a book is the enormity of the goal. But as you write out your 20 steps, you may find that you can write 200 words in 25 minutes.
It’s easier to move the needle in the right direction if you know your next step. Going back to the example of writing a book. If you know that your next step is editing the 200 words you’ve written, is it possible to do a quick edit in a five-minute read?
With each step in the right direction, you will begin to create a momentum which over time help you achieve your goal.
Seek wise counsel.
This is where I love being a daughter of the King of kings. I don’t know the future but God does and I can ask Him to guide me in the best way. I can also consult with trusted friends and mentors who have traveled similar paths.
“He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Ps. 23:3
“Without counsel, plans go awry,
But in the multitude of counselors they are established.” Ps. 15:22
I recently shared my goals with my life coach and she was able to help me see that in one of my goals — I was expecting to perform like a pro right from the start. It was like expecting myself to run a 10K on a first try. I would surely fail.
I need to train and build up my muscles before I can run a 10K. Knowing that truth is helping me to chart a different path that will ensure my long-term success.
God created us to live in community. It’s the work of the enemy of our souls who would want us to isolate ourselves and believe that we can do this on our own. I’m an introvert by nature and while I love spending quiet time alone, I know that my soul is nurtured and encouraged when I’m around like-minded people who care about me.
A few years ago, I stumbled upon a group of writing friends who not only love words but also share my love for God. They’ve been instrumental in helping me keep my dream alive and encouraging me in my darkest days. And the thing is, I’ve never met any of them in person, but I feel like they are among my closest friends.
I also have a vision board buddy and while our goals vastly differ, we share the vision of seeking God and putting our vision on paper. Her encouragement in my journey has been crucial to bringing some of my goals to fruition.
Set and keep good boundaries.
When I look back at all the years when I failed to achieve my goals, I can see that not having good boundaries hurt me the most. These days I’m better at saying NO to others but I still struggle daily at saying NO to myself.
You see I can carefully plan out my goals and put them up in visible places but the failure to say NO to myself throughout the day wrecks me every time. I know I should be working on that one thing that is on my to do list but I avoid it like a plague — this is especially true when I have to do a task I don’t like such as taxes.
Instead of saying NO to mindlessly browsing through social media, checking emails, I keep on telling myself that I will only be on it for a few minutes and before I know it, valuable time has been wasted.
And within a short amount of time, I find myself stuck unable to move ahead with my goals.
But you can also err on the flip side — working when you shouldn’t be. I work in 25 minute increments but sometimes, I keep working past my allotted time and ignore your family’s needs. This is a daily battle for me. Work when you are supposed to. Stop when the timer goes off.
Boundaries is about knowing who you are and embracing your identity. I am a writer and therefore I write. I’m a mama and so I do the things that good mamas do. I’m a child — a daughter of God and so I live loved. As these truths get lodged deep in your mind and heart, then the small daily choices you make to say yes to your dream and no to the distractions will become easier and more natural.
Renew your mind.
The battle to be and achieve — to live out what we believe God has called us to do this year begins in the mind. What have we programmed our minds and hearts to believe? Just as we got a new calendar for the new year, we need to cultivate new beliefs and mindsets that will support our goals and dreams. Otherwise, we will continue in the same habit patterns that have led us nowhere in the past.
Recent brain research tells us that what you have programmed in your mind today is a composite of everything you’ve ever experienced — all of your past thoughts, your beliefs and experiences. Your life history is buried deep in your subconscious mind and it’s out of that memory storage that we impulsively and instinctively do what we do every day.
Scientists are just now documenting what the Bible has been saying for thousands of years.
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Pr. 23:7
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Ro. 12:2
To get a new output, a new outcome — the one we desire for this new year, we have to get a new mind. So how is this even possible?
Choose to believe God.
“What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Lk. 18:27
Make the choice to believe God’s truth about you. Add a new layer of truth in your mind today. Eat richly of God’s Word. Read it, write it out, memorize it and pray unceasingly.
Sometimes we can be our worst enemy — our biggest critic. Surprisingly, mine often sounds like an authority figure from the past. Just as we are beginning to make progress, we will hear the enemy of our soul hiss his condemnation.
“Who do you think you’re kidding? You can’t write a book. You can’t __________.”
I’ve come to realize that I can’t erase the lies in my mind on my own. I’ve needed a therapist to help me unlodge deep-seated lies that have kept me bound for years. If you’ve experienced trauma, abuse, deep loss, I would encourage you to seek outside help. One of the things I’m learning is that admitting we need help is one of the most courageous and brave things we can do. Life is too short to live bound by life’s hurts, hangups and habits.
Believe that you can and just do it.
Celebrate your wins & track your progress.
It’s much easier to do something you enjoy — something that fuels your passion and gives you life isn’t it? For me, it’s pecking out these words on the keyboard. It feeds my life-long dream of writing words that will inspire and change lives.
“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” — Martin Luther
Every time I get to draw a smiley face for having written that day gives me pleasure and strengthens my belief that I’m a writer. These are the wins I celebrate and track daily. I’d encourage to do the same.
Cultivate a grateful heart.
If you need a miracle in 2020, cultivate a grateful heart. Some of our goals are beyond us. And that’s why we need God.
Some of the biggest miracles in the Bible followed the giving of thanks. Before Daniel was delivered from the lions — he gave thanks.
It’s also what Jesus taught us to do. He gave thanks before broke the bread and fed the multitudes.
By all means don’t limit Thanksgiving to November. As you achieve the smallest steps, give thanks. Look daily for your blessings and count them by writing them down. See if you can get to a thousand this year.
One of the hardest steps in achieving our goals is to simply begin. A common hindrance is the fear of failure, waiting for the right time or working up the “feeling or urge” to start. But things will never be perfect. Today is all we got. Take that first step to simply begin.
Don’t wait for tomorrow or until you have more time and energy to work on your goal. Set a timer for 25 minutes, grab a piece of paper and just start. Write down the dreams and goals you have hidden in your heart. Pray over what you have and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you finalize your list.
If you are walking with Jesus and keeping your eyes fixed on him, what you write down is likely what’s in your heart and His heart for you.
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Phil. 2:13
You are worth it. God believes you are worthy enough. So go and live, be and do all you were created for.