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Setting Goals that Count

By Paul Gustavson

So, here we are, nearly halfway through the year, and most of America has blown their new year’s resolutions. Isn’t it interesting how we start the new year with a set of new goals and aspirations? Most of us like the clean canvas that a new year brings, but unless our habits change, few are able to achieve the goals we set. We have to ask ourselves, “Are we really setting goals?”

The key element to goal setting, something that every one of us should know and understand, is the difference between goals and plans. Most of us have them confused. Consider the traditional list of resolutions:

          Lose 10 pounds,

          Exercise more,

          Put more into savings,

          Spend more time with family.

Those all sound good, but they are plans, not goals. Plans describe how I’m going to act in order to reach my goal, but it doesn’t always identify the goal itself. The goal is the why. Take a look at this list again with more clarity. The second half of the statement describes the goal.

          Lose 10 pounds so that I’ll be healthier,

          Exercise more so that I’ll be stronger,

          Put more into savings so that I will be able to enjoy retirement,

          Spend more time with family so that I will be able to cherish my loved ones and not have regret.

The goal is the end toward which you are aiming. It is the destination. It’s your TARGET! A better way to look at it is that plans are described by “do” type statements, whereas goals are described by “be” statements, or derivatives that cast a vision. “Do” statements describe your plan of action, but the “be” statements describe the result of that action. “Instead of thinking about what you will do in the next year, think about who you will become. That really is your goal.” I’d recommend setting the goals before you start making plans. As Steven Covey once said, “Start with the End in Mind.”

Finally, if you are a person of faith, like I am, I find it interesting that the Bible uses the term ‘heart’ to refer to goal setting, and ‘mind’ to refer to plan making (Hebrews 8:10). The mind is a temporary storage unit – that’s where plans are formed and “placed.” The heart, however, is permanent storage.

If you want to set goals that count, know your reason and let God write it on your heart. If you know your reason, you’ll know your way.