March 18, 2018

How to Reach Your Goals This Year

Have you decided what you want to accomplish this year? It doesn’t have to be anything huge like earning a degree, buying a house, or reaching your goal weight . . . it could be improving a relationship, learning a new skill, sticking with a certain habit, or developing a particular character trait. In fact, sometimes those “lifestyle” goals are more beneficial in the long run.

The challenging part is that our progress in these areas is often small and slow. It takes months, if not years, of daily choosing to move in the right direction. It requires the arduous work of building the right habits, staying disciplined, and keeping our eyes on the goal. Make one poor decision, and there’s room to fix the consequences. Make a handful of poor decisions, and suddenly you’re on a road going towards a different end.

How can we make sure we keep heading towards the outcomes we desire?

How to Reach Your Goals This Year

Here is a four-step method that I’ve developed for my own use. It’s been especially helpful in the “small and slow” areas of life — like being faithful in daily devotions, improving a skill, building relationships, practicing generosity, and maintaining a more healthy lifestyle.

Know your why — discern your true motives.

  • To develop spiritual disciplines? GREEN LIGHT, as long as it’s not just to look better than others (the comparison trap) or make yourself feel more spiritual (pride).
  • To develop a God-given gift out of gratitude for the Giver, and a desire to use it to help others? Good, biblically sound reasons.
  • To improve physically for better health? Good, shows wise stewardship, but must not become obsessive. Bodily discipline is good, but not to the exclusion of spiritual development.
  • To stretch your mind and grow in understanding? Good, shows wise stewardship, but must not become obsessive. Knowledge puffs up if it is not applied with love and wisdom.
  • To grow a relationship? Great, as long as it doesn’t get in between your relationship with God. No person can fulfill all your needs: every human will let you down or fail you. Only God can truly satisfy.
  • Note: spend some time here considering how the gospel should transform your goals, and adjust your pursuits accordingly

Plan your work — count the cost.

  • Your plans don’t need to be intricately detailed or written in stone. In fact, it’s good to review them monthly and be flexible: adapt to challenges that arise or changing circumstances, and revise when needed.
  • Dig into God’s Word and get to know His words of wisdom, guidance, instruction. Pray, pray, pray.
  • Know your priorities and values. What are you willing to give up? Where will you draw the lines? Develop within biblical guidelines.
  • Ask successful people how they accomplished their “big” goals. Seek godly counsel for pursuing similar ends.
  • How will you accomplish those big things? Develop several ongoing micro-goals for each major goal.

Work your plan — be a good steward.

  • Figure out your most common excuses, then sit down and decide how valid they are. Do other people with those “excuses” do what you want to be doing? If so, then get busy working! Stop reading about doing it, or planning in more and more detail, and just do it.
  • Learn the art of self-discipline for maximum productivity effectiveness — how to distinguish between optimal and merely good, and how to say no to anything that is less-than the best.
  • Bathe it in prayer for strength, wisdom, guidance, motivation, clarity, etc.  You cannot do it on your own!
  • Seek godly counsel. Stay in God’s Word: you don’t know everything, and you are not all wise. You need guidance! Find accountability with a friend, online group, class structure, public commitments or challenges, etc.
  • Don’t obsess: don’t neglect the more needful things in your pursuit of the good things.

Be patient — leave the results to God.

  • Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes progress. Lots of hours are needed to build a habit. Lots of mistakes are needed to learn what works or doesn’t work.
  • Edison found 99 ways not to make a light bulb . . . wouldn’t that get old fast? But he knew his “why” and he had a plan, and he kept at it day after day, failure after failure. Small daily steps make big consistent gains.
  • Do the work you’ve been given, according to the plan you’ve developed. If God has called you to do this thing, then it is a matter of obedience! Sometimes we’re called to obey (ie, practice) without any promise of our desired result (progress or end-goal).

How to Reach Your Goals This Year

Be faithful in the small things, and those small steps will add up to big gains. If you want to read 50 books this year — start with just one. If you want to lose weight — start by making healthier choices just for today. If you want to change a lifelong habit — start by making one different choice at a time.

Big things aren’t accomplished all at once: they require small thoughts, small choices, small actions. {tweet this}

If you need more inspiration for choosing smart goals for this year, check out the following links:

Have you set any goals for this year? What are you reaching for?



  1. I LOVE this post, Elizabeth. But then, I’m such a sucker for January and clean slates and new starts and goals. I may need to save this and come back and read it in June. 😉


  1. […] grad classes, so setting feasible goals was a bit challenging. But I’ve been taking time to think and pray, and have chosen a handful of things to develop or achieve this year — including growing […]

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