Newsletter 597 – More on Setting and Reaching Goals

Goal setting 5This week I read an interesting blog in which the writer asked if we are drifting through life, waiting for “whatever,” or making decisions that help us take action to move toward our goals. Waiting for the winds to blow us in the right direction rarely works. But many people do something similar and drift through life, often with no particular destinations in mind.

During this past month Michael Hyatt has stimulated thousands of people, me included, to rethink their methods of setting goals for the New Year and for their lives and careers. Many of Hyatt’s teachings are practical and helpful but of equal or greater importance are goal-related principles that he downplayed or bypassed:

  • It is worthwhile to plan ahead, but none of us is in complete control of our futures. Unexpected events, including illness, can disrupt even our best intentions, shut us down or blow us off course. Goals and plans must always be held lightly.
  • It is possible for goal accomplishment to be all-consuming and for focus on goals to become potentially harmful compulsive activity. Last month, Mr. Hyatt published advice from experts who wrote about how they plan for a new year. In reading this I thought, “These people are obsessed with their goals.” Could too much focus on goals be as counter productive as no goal focus at all?
  • Since we are not in control of our futures, the setting and working toward goals should not be done alone. Wise King Solomon wrote: “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many counselors bring success” (Proverbs 15:22.) Effective goal setting and planning needs input from others. It is not a solo activity.
  • God must be at the center of this process. “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps…. Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:7,3.) But as one person commented last week, “Sometimes following God’s leading will defy conventional wisdom and require sacrifice.”
  • Evaluate your goals. Ask if each goal is worth pursuing at this time in your life. Is each goal what God wants you to do? Try to keep the list manageable. Remember this old adage: “The hunter who chases more than one rabbit misses them all.”

Some research verifies that after a week or two, most New Year’s resolutions have been broken. Why? What comments would you add to the above?


  1. A thoughtful Article. Thanks. This year I laid my plans before the Lord, determined not to stress over them. I feel much happier allowing the Lord to ‘work all things together..’ I’ve had some very pleasant doors of opportunity opening – mostly to do with my music which I thought was very much on the ‘back-burner!’ For me, my general resolution is to not entertain thoughts of pressure.


  2. For myself and some others, after formulating goals, it can prove a comfort to sort goals into order of priority. One scheme that I learned from others includes:
    1) Non-negotiable: I will not compromise on these.
    2) Strong preference: If I have an opportunity, I will pursue these.
    3) Weak preference: I will be delighted if I can fulfill these, as well.


  3. Thanks Bruce, Galen and Peter. Last week I wondered if it was unwise to write two posts on goal setting, but this was a lot on my mind.

    I think we got some good comments, especially from people like us who put goal setting into a Christian framework. I set goals but I am not compulsive about fulfilling them. And I think Michael Hyatt is emphasizing one good idea – goal setting – but making too much of this, promising that this is the route to our best year ever.

    Sometimes I think we have two extremes. Some people overdo the emphasis on goals and get over-anxious about reaching them, even to the point of letting this dominate their lives. Others, especially my twentysomething friends take the approach that they will wait until something comes along–a Que sera, sera approach: Whatever will be will be. Their lives seem built around the word “whatever” (sometimes with a shrug of the shoulders) until they reach 30 and recognize that they have drifted through an entire decade. Some of these folks keep drifting on through their lives. It is difficult to nudge these friends into action, especially when they have no idea what they want. I get a lot of fulfillment encouraging these guys to make some moves without sounding like a nagging grandfather.

    I appreciated your responses and those that came last week.


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