The end of a year is a great time to reflect on God’s faithfulness. It is also an opportunity to look ahead to the new year. When we think about making new year’s resolutions, it can cause a lot of disillusionment and frustration. Especially, as we think about this past year’s resolution and our shortcomings. Even though I find myself failing on many of my new year’s resolutions, I still make them because it gives me a sense of purpose as I think about my passions and my desire for growth.
One thing that I have done for many years is to spend some time in reflection and then write down some clear goals for the new year. Hopefully, some of the things that I’ve implemented in my life to help me to achieve my goals can be helpful to you as you think about 2019.
Before I write down anything, I spend some time in prayer and reflection. This helps me to see the different ways in which God has worked in my life this past year. It also gives me revelation for the new year. It is important that we do not try to make our resolutions based on our own wisdom or strength. God has to lead us and reveal things in our lives so that we can align ourselves with His purposes for the upcoming year.
After some time in reflection and prayer, I simply use the acronym GOALS to help me come up with practical resolutions and strategies to achieve my resolutions for the new year. The GOALS acronym is:
- G – GROWTH-MINDSET. We have to remember that whatever resolutions or goals that you make for the new year, it has to be related to some aspect of growth. It should entail the different aspects of our personhood – spiritual, relational, physical, mental, emotional, etc. When our goals are connected to growth, it will keep us motivated throughout the year. We never want to be static or get complacent, but we want to keep on growing as a person so that we can, by God’s grace, be a better version of ourselves from last year. Just make sure that your goals are at a reasonable number. Usually having about 5-6 goals for the year is appropriate. If we have more, then there is a possibility of losing focus and feeling overwhelmed within the first month of the new year.
- O – OBSERVABLE. It is important to make the goals with clear measurable traits. There is power in seeing gradual movement towards our desired goal. Therefore, it is critical that we write out our goals and try to mark off the small steps of progress. One thing that I use is the SMS of goals: Specific, Measurable, and Set-time. These three things help me to come up with clear goals and to stay focused. For example, if you want to grow spiritually by reading God’s Word, then following a set daily (specific) reading plan (measurable) for the year (set-time) will help you to reach your goal.
- A – ATTAINABLE. Don’t make goals that are too far-fetched or you will get discouraged and then give up. The goals should stretch us, but it should be within reach with some dedication and discipline. Some of us are too idealistic, therefore, it might help to bounce off our goals with some seasoned people and get some perspective. I have found myself readjusting my goals many times with a mid-year check-up. It is helpful to use the previous year as a gauge. If some of our goals were not met, figure out if it was due to being unrealistic. Then just make sure that this year you account for the shortcoming. If your last year’s goals were easy to attain, then stretch yourself a bit so that you can keep growing.
- L – LIST. Psychologically, when we are able to check off things on a list, it helps us to keep motivated because we see the progress that we are making. As you write out your goals, try to keep either a journal or use some app which can help you to check off an accomplished task. This year I committed to doing 40,000 push-ups. I divided the 40,000 push-ups into 365 days and it came out to roughly doing 110 push-ups a day. Then I put it on a checklist on my Google Keep. Whenever I finished a day of 110 push-ups, I would just mark it off on my list. This helped me to see how far I have come, as well as how much further I needed to go. It was a good motivator. With a few more days left of 2018, I know exactly how many more push-ups I need to do in order to achieve my goal (please pray for me… haha). Also, when we have a list, it is a good way to review our goals throughout the year and come up with a better strategy for achieving those goals. When I looked at my push-up goals in different parts of the year, I realized that I needed to increase my 110 daily push-ups because I fell behind. Don’t forget to review your list at least weekly so that you stay on target.
- S – SUPPORT. There is research that shows both the benefits and the negative aspects of sharing your goals with others. Regardless of what you believe in, I think the key is to share your goals with the “right” people. When we have a good support system, as well as accountability, then we are more likely to achieve our goals. The reason why we stay motivated in accomplishing our goals is because we know that we have to give an account to people who care for us. They are also there to cheer us on, especially knowing that some of the goals might not be easy. Find a few trusted friends who can check up on you. Also, make sure that they are able to be firm and confront you if you are getting lazy or apathetic. By having a good support system, it helps to remind you of why you made the goals in the first place. Don’t go through it alone.
I hope these five aspects of the GOALS acronym will help you get started in a successful and fruitful new year. For those of you who attend HMCC-HK, I want to stress the importance of doing the BRP (Bible Reading Plan) that we have in our church. It is a 2-year Bible Reading Plan. All the goals that we set for the new year will be futile if they are just focused on ourselves. I pray that we will commit to doing the BRP so that as we grow spiritually, we can be a blessing to others around us.
By God’s grace, let’s make 2019 a great year as we live out God’s purpose for us!