I am not sure who first said this but it is profoundly true. “If you don’t know where you are going, you will never get there.” This is true of leadership in the church as well as in your personal life. For some reason, many people never take the time to establish personal goals and rather live life with either a tainted fatalism -“whatever will be will be,” or indolently “one day at time sweet Jesus…” In light of your discussion last week on success, personal goal setting is crucial for finishing well. Here are some of my thoughts on the matter.
1) Figure out where you are going. When determining goals, there are short term and long term goals. Both are equally important and should have an influence on the decisions you make in both life and ministry. In light of that you need to consider both.
a. What are my lifetime goals: This pertains to the “big picture” goal of how I want to be remembered when I die. You cannot get too specific here, because several times through your life, God will take you down a path you had no idea would come your way.
b. Where do I want to be in 3 to 5 years: This is where you need to dream. In other words you are asking yourself this question, if God gave me the desires of my heart, what would that look like? What would I be doing? Where would I be serving?
EXERCISE: In effort to help you determine where you are going, I encourage you to this exercise that I learned from Tom Lutz in Atlanta. I would encourage you first to go “big picture” and look at all of your life. Then come back and look short term.
· Be sure to cover this time in prayer. Find a time and a place with as little distraction as possible and give yourself for at least one hour do this.
· Then pick a point in time 3 to 5 years in the future.
· Let yourself dream about it. What does it look like? Ask yourself: who, what, where, when, why, how? Try to sense it – what can you smell, taste, touch, see & hear? Imagine the buildings, the people, the equipment, the successes, the failures, the sense of accomplishment, the lessons learned.
· Try not to think of why it won’t work (money, people will think I’m crazy, etc). Write each thought down on a different 3x5 card…. Yes, use the old fashioned ones. High take notepad versions will not work as well.
· For the next two weeks, keep the cards with you. Each time a new idea comes to your head, write it down.
· Do not review what you have written. Put it in the pile and move on. Repetition is not a problem.
· At the end of two weeks gather the cards and organize them. From what you have written on the cards, write out a description. This will help you get a mental picture of where you would like to be. This is your short term vision or goal.
2) Lay out a plan on how to get there. Now that you have a picture of where you would like to be, you need to plan out the steps to get there.
a. From this short term vision pick try and determine five central themes. These could be called “the fine things you would die for.”
b. List out those five key areas and asses what you need to do to get to where you want to be.
· What could get in the way?
· What steps do I need to take?
· Who can help me?
c. Now give yourself a timeline.
3) Develop a structure to keep you on track. A key reason many people never attain their goals is due to implementation and accountability.
a. Implementation asks when and how I get started.
b. Accountability asks who and what is going to keep me on track. I recommend that you have someone in your life to help you through this process.
c. Strategic planner Tom Lutz, recommends that you develop a dashboard to assist in helping you getting started and keep going. Like the dashboard in a car, it tells you how everything is running. This can be a simply spreadsheet or the use of a program such as Microsoft Outlook. Regardless it should include how each goal will be implemented and the progress being made, it is a tracking tool.
d. Depending on your personality, the role of the person who is keeping you accountable differs. For some it will be someone who kicks you in the pants, to others it will be someone who keeps you from being too obsessed with your goals and you lose sight of the big picture.
4) Evaluate and Adapt. Remember that very few things happen just as planned. Therefore goals need to be adapted and changed. Do not use challenges as an excuse to abandon your goals.