Goals, a 2014 Reprise

One thing for which I am particularly thankful is a church that encourages goal setting (and accountability). Just this morning as I was leaving Sunday School, my wife sat down with three or four of the women from our class to begin encouraging each other on their pursuit of this year’s goals. Since I hadn’t written mine yet, I pretended to have urgent business elsewhere. Besides, it was only for girls.

Our Pastor is particularly disciplined and aggressive in setting goals for himself, and many of the church leaders set a very good example in this regard. Each year I make a list of goals, seeking to ‘run in such a way as to get the prize’ (1 Corinthians 9:24). And each year I fail in many ways; yet somehow this is not discouraging to me. Perhaps this is because I compare it to the failure I would have if I set no goals at all.

My nephew Samuel and I probably should set goals for winning a game of Eclipse.

My nephew Samuel and I probably should set goals for winning a game of Eclipse.

Last week at AWANA, I offered the kids a revised version of last year’s Goals Worksheet and encouraged them to bring a completed copy to AWANA next week.

“If you bring it back completed, I will give you a wooden nickel,” I promised.

Forgotten is the sage advice you may have heard from your grandfather, “Don’t take any wooden nickels!” Kids today gladly accept them, possibly because of their worth in comparison to our debt-devalued currency, or (more likely) because I redeem them for a free can of pop (most of ‘em prefer root beer).

Don't take any wooden nickels ... unless they are like this one!

Don’t take any wooden nickels … unless they are like this one!

Then, as often happens, my mouth ran away without my brain in attendance. “And if I don’t have a copy of MY goals completed and ready to show you by next week,” I shouted, “I’ll give you ALL a wooden nickel!”

So much for my wily plan to drag out my goal-setting until people stop asking me about my goals. These AWANA kids are ruthless and relentless. They will stop at nothing to squeeze a wooden nickel out of me. I guess I’d better trot out a list of goals for the year, before Wednesday arrives and I am bankrupted.

A quick word about goals. I think they should cover as many areas of your life as you can — so I usually divide mine up into Spiritual, Marriage, Parenting, Personal and Administrative goals. Then I add an extra category for Fun goals, and (if I feel brave) one more category for BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals).

Maybe not as big and hairy as my beard ...

Maybe not as big and hairy as my beard …

So here are my goals. I’m not trying to brag, as those of you who know how I actually perform on my goals can probably attest. I’m just trying to respond in thankfulness to my God whose mercies are new every morning (and every year) and who gives me the power to attempt great things for Him.

  • Spiritual Growth & Maintenance
    • Pray through the church prayer letter, weekly
    • Pray for my AWANA leaders by name, weekly
    • Pray for each of my family members, daily
    • Read my Bible plan for 280 days (finish current year’s plan + 180 days on a new plan)
    • Teach a Resolution class for men
    • Attend the Perspectives missions class in the Fall with Kathy
    • Recite & track my commitments every day (I have a personal statement of faith and intent)
    • Write an encouraging note, card or e-mail to someone, each week
    • Write a blog post about something I am thankful for, each week
    • Listen to one ‘extra’ sermon a week
  • Marriage
    • Pray with Kathy 2x/week
    • Go out on a date with Kathy at least 1x/month
    • Have a ‘home date’ with Kathy 3x/month
  • Parenting
    • Celebrate Special Days™ in some form (at least one child per week)
    • Read some kind of Bible devotional to my kids 3x/week
    • Discuss at least one of my Convictions™ with my kids each week
  • Personal
    • Write two blog posts each week (in addition to thankful blog)
    • Exercise 4x/week, 25 minutes minimum
    • Reduce weight to 203 lbs
  • Administrative
    • Review my goals weekly
    • Report on goals via e-mail to my ‘boys’ weekly
    • Continue using my TaskList™ application at work to be accountable for my performance
  • Fun & Family
    • Play at least 1 board game/week with my family
    • Go camping as a family at least once
    • Vacation in Turks and Caicos with my family
    • Complete a working game prototype with Joshua (Ziba)
    • Finish my skit collection website
  • Big Hairy Audacious Goals
    • Increase tithe/offering to 25% of my gross income

Some of you may wonder why these goals bear a striking resemblance to some of my previous year’s goals. This is no coincidence — these are the things that I (a) think are important, and (b) have difficulty performing. It should be no surprise, that some of them would crop up on my list of goals, year after year.

Joshua was certainly surprised when Kathy and I resumed writing our blog ...

Joshua was certainly surprised when Kathy and I resumed writing our blog …

One of my best college friends recently commented on an earlier blog post, questioning whether personality type is a major factor in a person’s willingness and decision to set goals or not. She suggested that people who tended toward ‘Perceiving’ on the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator (vs. ‘Judging’) might find it more difficult and less rewarding to set goals than those on the other end of the spectrum. Unfortunately, my most recent test results on that measure were exactly divided between ‘Perception’ and ‘Judgment’, so that doesn’t really give me an ‘out’. In any case, I found this article interesting and informative on that question, particularly this paragraph:

Sometimes people feel they have both. That is true. The J or P preference only tells which preference the person extraverts. One person may feel very orderly/structured (J) on the inside, yet their outer life looks spontaneous and adaptable (P). Another person may feel very curious and open-ended (P) in their inner world, yet their outer life looks more structured or decided (J).

I am thankful that 2014 gives me a fresh start on my desire to be disciplined and to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God. All my pathetic 2013 failures are hereby washed away (if only to make room for my 2014 pathetic failures) and I am excited to see what God will empower me to do this year.


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