7 Principles for Goal Setting

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“How do you go about setting goals for yourself and your church as you prepare for the coming year?” One of the first things that I do is to set aside some unhurried time to begin this process. I have found that when I am rushed and don’t allow enough time that the goals end up being poorly chosen. So, I look for some time when I can slow down, think and pray. I also think it’s wise to try to consider potential goals in more than one sitting. If I plan them in only one day I can be driven by the emotions of that particular day and so my goals might be overly ambitious, not ambitious enough or even driven by the envy that I might be feeling of another’s success on any given day.

The next step is to try to take an honest assessment of where I am personally and where the church plant currently is at this point. I don’t help myself or the church plant if I am overly negative or naively optimistic about where we are or where we could be. Sometimes your spouse, trusted friends, or key leaders in the church can be helpful to us in this process. I consider questions like, “What are the significant weak points in my own life (as a follower of Christ, husband, dad, friend, pastor, physical and emotional well-being) and in the church plant?” and then consider goals that can help to address those areas. Another helpful question is, “What are the significant opportunities that can be built upon on those same areas of life?” In this I’m considering what is God doing in my life and in the life of our church plant that seems to be an opportunity that we should seek to really leverage at this time? Some other questions to consider are “What would I like to see different in 6 months?” and we also want to be thinking long term, so it’s helpful to ask “Where do I want to be in 5 years?”

After taking time for this honest assessment and wrestling with some questions it’s then time to move to actually crafting the goals and for me this is often the place where I have failed. Over the years I have failed in nearly every possible way- too many goals, not specific enough in the goal, too ambitious, not challenging enough and then often by not holding myself accountable. As we think about goals, there are some areas of life and ministry in a church plant that just you really can’t set goals for and aren’t quantifiable or you just don’t feel comfortable setting goals for and that’s completely appropriate.

Here are a few principles that aren’t new with me or profound that I have found helpful in developing goals and seeing them through.

1. Write the goals down. I try to not allow the goals to only be in my head but I want to write them down even if I’m the only one who can see them.

2. Create a limited number of goals. I have often had so many goals that I couldn’t keep up with them and eventually lost track of all of them.

3. Be specific in the goals. I have found that vague goals are not helpful to me but the more specific I can be the more likely it is that I will achieve them.

4. Be optimistic, daring, and realistic in your goals. I have at times erred by having goals that weren’t really a challenge or more often with overly ambitious goals and neither is very effective. So, I want to aim for goals that would be a challenge for me to reach but not for goals that I know just isn’t realistic. If I haven’t been exercising at all to set a goal to exercise every day for the next 6 months just likely isn’t a very wise goal.

5. Review your goals. You will need some system to remind yourself of your goals throughout the weeks and months ahead. It can be simple written card or an electronic system. It doesn’t matter as long as its reviewable.

6. Consider sharing your goals with others. Depending on whether the goal is personal or for the church plant, consider who you might share this goal with who could be for you and encourage you as you work towards achieving it.

7. Go for it! Pursue your goals with all the strength that God gives you!

Time ManagementCurtis Cook