With the calendar poised to turn from 2010 to 2011, many of us think of this as a time for a fresh start. For some it means making resolutions to do things differently.
For instance, "I resolve to eat better." "I resolve to quit smoking." "I resolve to get into a regular exercise routine and lose 20 pounds." "I resolve to watch less TV and use my time more productively."
The problem with resolutions is they tend to be all or nothing. Once habits triumph over good intentions, we quit in resignation. "I knew I couldn't do it," we mumble, shrug, and return to our old ways. That's why for many years I've resolved not to make resolutions. Instead, I set goals.
Goals provide a target, something I can aim toward over a desired period of time: Where am I going? How am going to get there? How will I know when I've arrived?
Almost every New Year's Day I sit down and review my goals for the year past, evaluate them, and write down new goals. I even classify them according to different areas of my life: vocational, physical, spiritual, family, mental, financial, ministry, and hobbies
Some of these simply carry over from the past year - such as spending time daily to read the Bible, pray and meditate; exercising at least five times a week; maintaining a goal weight; devoting time to mentoring other men.
But other goals are brand-new, whether they involve my work, writing and editing; planning a special getaway with my wife; or setting new financial objectives.
The point is they give me something to shoot for. If I fail one day, all isn't lost. Tomorrow's another day. A goal can take the whole year to accomplish, like reading through the Bible. Or it can be short-term, such as losing any added holiday weight by March 1.
For me the process is as important as the end result. Hopefully, my goals provide guidelines to help me become a better husband, father, grandfather, worker, friend, and ultimately, servant of Jesus Christ.
I try always to remember, as Colossians 3:23-24 instructs us, "Whatever you do , do you work (even goal-setting) as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve."