Proverbs 16:9 “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
It’s that time of year again where we set resolutions and try to define goals as objects of our ambition. Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve your health, education, or stop unhealthy habits, it’s when we rely on our own arrogance and will that gets us into trouble.
When the heart is mentioned in the Bible, it’s usually not in a great light. Relying on our own heart, or following our heart, can lead us down the wrong path; one God did not intend for us. That is when we start the serious praying for God to get us out of the mess we created. Instead of listening to Him, we listen to ourselves.
Most of us have some goals for the new year to improve ourselves and our lives. Call it a New Year’s resolution or your One Word for the year, either way, without goals, there’s not much room for life improvement. But the process in which we set goals for ourselves matters. Although, you are responsible for whether you follow through with the goals you’ve set for yourself, how you set them has a hand in determining how successful you’ll be in achieving them.
The term SMART Goals refers to a process in which you set the goals that will give you greater success by breaking them down into steps. But I want to add something to this process. This SMART Goals system has been around for a while and used by corporate management teams. This acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. I want to build on this idea and add an “A” in front of SMART. The A stands for Ask God first. By asking God to guide you in the following the steps He has laid out for you. This will help you determine your real goal. His plan for you.
Research shows the SMART Goals method of goal planning works because it gives you step-by-step instructions. Adding Ask God first invites Him into the planning process and allows you to focus more on your God-given goals rather than your man-centered goals. Let’s break it down into steps:
A stands for Ask God first. We all have big plans. We want to do things, but our hearts are trouble makers, and following our hearts without guidance from God can lead to unwanted outcomes. Ask Him in prayer to guide and support your goals. Ask Him to establish your steps to stay true to your calling.
S stands for Specific. This means the goal needs to be clear and specific. When setting a goal for yourself, you should steer away from generalized statements. Be precise in what you want to achieve in your goal. Instead of saying, “I will exercise more,” say, “I will exercise at the gym for 45 minutes, every weekday morning before I go to work.”
M stands for Measurable. Measurable goals refer to tracking your progress. Your goal will be easier met if you can assess progress along the way, giving you more motivation and focus toward your ultimate ambition. Maybe you can use an app to track your weight loss goals or set a deadline for that new project you want to complete.
A stand for Attainable. Although your goals should help stretch you outside your comfort zone and push you to the next level, it’s important that the goals you set remain achievable. Yes, reach for the stars, but don’t make your goal so far out of reach you never make it. Break your big goals into small steps, once you reach one step, work to achieve the next, and so on.
R stands for Relevant. These are imperative to your success. This means that the goals you set should be important to you and align well with your life and other goals you have set. These should also align with your faith.
T stands for Time-bound. A lot like measurable, your goals should have a deadline to achieve them. This will help keep you on track and focused, and give you opportunities to celebrate your small wins along the way.
By setting A SMART Goal(s) and asking God to be a part of the planning committee, you will have the ability to achieve your goals. Fair warning: sometimes He has bigger or better plans for you. Your laid out plans may take a detour or change all together along the way. So, be flexible and go with the flow. He knows what He is doing.