Rule #12: Set Measurable Goals

I hate new years resolutions. As stated from the begriming. People come up with a goal once a year because they feel obligated to. No wonder they usually fail. That part aside another reason resolutions fail is they tend to be impossible to succeed at. When I hear new years resolutions from people it's always these candy statements like "I want to lose weight", "I want to be a better person", "I want to eat better". These seem like great goals, except they are impossible to achieve. A good goal can be objectively measured. A good goal can be accomplished.

How to make a goal:

  1. Start with your word candy. "I'm going to lose weight."
  2. Choose an objective method of measuring your success. "I'm going to lose 10 lb"
  3. Set a time frame to complete it by. "I'm going to lose 10 lb in 3 months."
  4. Choose a daily method of progressing your goal. "I'm going to lose 10 lb in 3 months by doing a 30 min workout every day."
  5. Set aside a time to focus on the goal and take steps towards it. "I'm going to lose 10 lb in 3 months by doing a 30 min workout every day at 5:00 p.m. (after work)."
  6. Evaluate yourself regularly to see if you are nearing your target. "I'm going to lose 4 lb every month for a total of 10 lb in 3 months by doing a 30 min workout every day at 5:00 p.m. (after work)."

We just took a fluffy unachievable and impossible to evaluate goal and made it possible. Not just possible because it now has an objective measure but because there is a plan for how to achieve the goal. The plan can be adjusted at checkpoints, if the desired progress is not made (only 2 lb lost after 1 month. Time to increase workout or decrees intake). You know every day if you are making progress because you know if you missed or made your workout time. My goal for this season can be worded as "I'm going to build my discipline by writing a blog every day for 40 days around 1:00 p.m. (lunch time)." 

More helpful tips to successfully setting goals

  1. Focus on one goal/task at a time. Don't try to exercise for 1 hour, study your Bible for 1 hour, pray for 1 hour every day. Pick one follow through with it for a season: 40 days or 3 months is a good start.
  2. Rest during and between goals. In Israel it would have been illegal to work out on the Sabbath. I tried to make my Saturday blogs more about fun and less about thinking. Give your day off a special treatment to reward your-self for a faithful week and to give your body, soul, and mind the much needed rest. When you accomplish your goal don't set another goal right away. Take a couple of weeks off. Rest and relax and think hard about what your next assignment will be.
  3. Don't be discouraged by failure. As I already said failure happens but the real failure would be to not get up and try again. You missed a workout. Just make sure to hit it the next day. And don't use your Sabbath as a make-up day. It's always a day of rest even if you don't deserve it, God's grace is not deserved and yet we have no choice but to receive that. 
  4. Be Flexible. If your goal is clearly more than you can handle adjust it during one of your evaluations. I've worked out for 2 hours every day for the last week and I just can't sustain this pase. So my new goal is to work out for 1 hour every week. Don't restart, don't give up, just adjust. You are only losing 2 lb a month and don't feel you can push yourself any harder. Just adjust the big time line. I'm going to lose 10 lb over 5 months at 2 lb every month.
  5. Set goals that line up with your big picture purpose. Every person should choose a few goals for life. I want to be an amazing father, I want to be a millionaire, I want to be a missionary, I want to enjoy life. Every decision I make is to line up with these life goals. Every month I set a budget with my wife for paying off more of my debt and we already have a 5 year plan for building up our savings and investments. I built this list of rules, and many other teachings so I could teach my children and myself how to live. I spent many years going on short term missions trips, learning from long term missionaries and supporting their ministries and seeing their work so I could one day partner with them. I also have volunteered in just about every position a church has to offer so I could learn how a church operates from top to bottom. I play video games and watch movies and do basic carpentry because It's fun and helps me rest and enjoy the journey of life. 

Resolutions are worthless. Measurable goals are vital to a life of growth and production. They stave of laziness, they keep you facing your life focus, they make every decision strategic. Don't waste your time wanting to be a better person. Spend your time taking steps towards life-long goals. Life with a purpose is more satifying, even in pain, suffering, and poverty, than a life of wealth that leads to nothing [Prov 29:18].