Have you ever spent one or two days cleaning out your closet? I mean you REALLY clean it. You put all the shoes where they go, you hang up all your clothes, you put up all your belts. You pick up the jewelry, the change, everything. When you are all done, you feel good about how it looks. But then, a few days later, you are in a hurry. What happens? You come in, kick off your shoes, change your clothes, and throw the change on the dresser. Little by little, your closet gets messy again. By nature, we set a goal, reach a goal, and then we go right back to making the same choices that got us in the mess to begin with.
Proverbs 29:18 says, Where there is no vision, the people perish. I believe that we can never, never, ever stop setting goals. I heard an anonymous quote one time that said: “Where there are no goals neither will there be significant accomplishment. There will only be existence.” Setting goals is an ongoing process. We want to develop habits, not just reach a goal and then go back to how things were before we started. Setting goals keep you focused, motivated, and living a life of purpose.
So, how do we stay disciplined? How do we keep from going backwards? I have found that the number one way to stay disciplined is to develop consistent goal setting. Several years ago, my husband and I wanted to buy a new house, but we needed thousands of dollars by closing to make sure the payments were what we could afford. We did everything we could think of. We had garage sales, I wrote a book for a pastor, and my husband sold arcade games. We had a chart on the refrigerator where we could mark off the money as it came in. I had our goal in my day timer, my purse, everywhere. God provided all of the money we needed, but it was through self-discipline. Every bit of it came by the work of our hands. We got the money, moved in, and then guess what happened? We quit saving money.
Why? Because we didn’t have a new goal. We didn’t have anything to keep us focused. Every time you reach a goal, you need to set a new goal; otherwise, you will just go back to where you were before.
What has helped me the most with setting goals is to set them monthly. I set goals every month for my faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, and free time. I heard somebody say once that one wrong choice didn’t get you into the mess you are in. It was a series of wrong choices. So one right choice won’t get you out of the mess. It’s going to take a series of right choices, month after month after month. That is why it is important to set new, monthly goals.
Your monthly goals need to be realistic, and for you to be able to reach them, you must have a plan. The plan will be the “how to” to reach your goals. For your faith, a goal could be to grow more spiritually. To do that, you decide to read the book of Proverbs for the month of June. Now you need a plan to make that happen. Realistically look at your time and decide when you can fit reading Proverbs into your schedule on a daily basis. If you are a morning person then probably the best time would be in the morning, not at night when you are sleepy. Then by the end of the month, you can look back and say that you reached your goal for your faith. Next for your finances, you might set a monthly goal to save $100.00. Decide how you are going to make that happen. If you get paid twice a month, you could decide to put $50.00 in your savings account from each paycheck. You do the same thing with every area: faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, and free time. When you are setting your goals, ask yourself the four questions:
Why am I setting this goal? How am I going to strive to reach it? What am I going to do to make it happen? When am I going to do it? By setting monthly goals you will keep yourself moving forward.
You can develop self-discipline in your life. Remember that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. You have heard the phrase, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” It is the same with self-discipline. Vince Lombardi said, “Men decide their habits. Their habits decide their future.” Your monthly goals broken down into daily steps will actually determine your future. That’s powerful. Mike Murdock says, “The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.”
My favorite scripture as a child was 2 Timothy 1:7. In the New International Version it says, For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but of power, of love, and of self-discipline. Discipline is the key to success in any area of life.