Why I Think You Should Set A Goal Today

A few years ago I started meeting with a “life coach” (my term, not his) who I was looking for some guidance from on how to be successful in a few particular areas of my life.

He said rather bluntly, "So, what do you want?". I had thought about a lot of things I didn't want in life. A low-paying job, a job I hated, a dead-end career path were all at the top of my list, but I hadn't really spent much time thinking about things I wanted. He made me. Once I was able to decide on specific things that I wanted in life (particularly in the next 5 years), he had me write them down. This list is what became my 5-year goalsHe was a very wealthy, successful, God-fearing guy who just seemed to have it all together.

He was a friend of a friend and I jumped at the chance of meeting with him – hoping to glean something from him to help me in some of the more frustrating areas of my life.

One of those areas was my career.

While it appeared that there were tremendous career opportunities within reach, there was an invisible barrier that I just could not seem to get past.

After spending year after year trying and failing, I began to lose hope.

What was so frustrating to me was that I knew I had certain giftings and skill sets, but in the job I had, they were completely unnecessary and even looked down upon.

Looking back on the whole experience, it is clear to me that God actually spared me – because had I gotten one of the promotions there that I wanted, I likely wouldn’t have had the motivation to take the leap to start my own business.

It was the desperation and the thought of having to spend another 20-30 years in a job I hated that made it pretty easy to embrace the “risk” of starting my own business.

Anyway, back to the life coach…

We first met at a Cheesecake Factory and I remember walking in and almost immediately after shaking his hand, him saying rather bluntly, “So, what do you want?”.

I had thought about a lot of things I didn’t want in life.  A low-paying job, a job I hated, a dead-end career path were all at the top of my list, but I hadn’t really spent much time thinking about things I wanted.

But he made me.

Once I was able to decide on specific things that I wanted in life (particularly in the next 5 years), he had me write them down.

This list is what became my 5-year goals.

At the time of writing them, I knew that God could do anything. I mean, looking at the transformation that took place in Joseph’s life, I knew that God could cause me to reach those goals but it seemed like it would be the same caliber of miracle as it was for Joseph.

It is a weird feeling writing down goals that you have no possible idea of how they could ever manifest in your life.

Part of the challenge for me was my fear of failure. It was easier for me NOT to set a goal because that way I would avoid any failures.

I knew this wasn’t the way I should be living my life, but I was doing it anyway. Looking back I realize that I was kind of living the opposite of a life of faith – if I couldn’t see it or at least figure out how it was possible, I didn’t truly believe that it was possible.

3 years later

3  years later I had a conversation with my old life coach and it dawned on me that almost all of the goals I had written down had come to pass – and I had lots of reasons to believe that all of them would come to pass by the 5 year mark.

Remembering what I was thinking at the time is what amazes me about this. From my vantage point, the goals I wrote seemed equally as unlikely as if I had written that I wanted to walk on Mars or become the president of the U.S..

Where is God in all this?

Looking back, I know without a shadow of doubt that it was the Lord. I expended all of my energy and know-how trying to reach some of these goals on my own, to no avail.

I know that while I had a part in all of this, by being diligent, working hard, etc, I could have never reached these goals on my own.

For most of my Christian life, I was somewhat hesitant about goal-setting because I didn’t want to get caught up in “my plans” rather than God’s plans.

I always want to do His will over my own and never want to get caught up in just doing a bunch of “works” for God that weren’t what He had in mind for me.

But what I think happened was that even though I was writing those goals from my own interests and desires, they were actually God’s plans for me. John 15:7 says,

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Looking at that verse, we can see that this whole writing-goals-down thing isn’t a formula that we can use to manipulate God. It starts with us abiding in Him and getting in the Bible so that our wills better align with His. And apparently, as that happens, the natural result is that the things we ask have a better chance of being in line with His will.

Even still, I don’t make the assumption that any goals I set are automatically God’s will, but now when I set goals, I prayerfully seek after them submitting to whatever God has in mind.

The Role of Faith

Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. That is a big and bold statement.

I interpret it like this: if I want to please God, I need to believe in something that I can’t figure out how it will happen.

Like I mentioned before, when I was writing that original set of goals, I knew that I could not reach them on my own. I had tried and failed. Again and again.

I knew that the only way they would be reached was if God was at work behind the scenes. Personally, I didn’t at all feel like I had the faith to believe that they could come to pass.

But it seems to me that the act of just writing the goals down and opening up to the possibility of failure was a huge step of faith – perhaps just a mustard-seed sized amount – but faith nonetheless, that God honored.

If you haven’t already, give it a try

I have a feeling that God has some awesome things He wants to do in our lives that He is just waiting for us to believe are possible. If you have some desires, dreams, or things that you are longing to see changed in your life or in the world around you, I encourage you to write them down.

Make a list of how you would like your world to be different 5 years from now. Don’t worry about the “how”. Our job isn’t to figure out how everything will happen, rather to trust that God knows how to make it happen.

Once you have your list, don’t stop there. Put it on your desk, fridge, or by your bed. Pray about the things listed and be honest with God. Look at it often and think about the things on your list.

When our minds are confronted with a question, they seek to find an answer.

Ask yourself how you can take the first step towards reaching the goal. What is one single thing I can do today (no matter how small) to reach this goal?

Continue to keep the goals in the forefront of your mind and if you are anything like me, you might just be surprised to see where you are in a few years.

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  1. Rob Ward

    Hi Bob,

    I completely agree with setting goals. At times I have wondered whether that is God honoring or not – how do I know if my goals are aligned with His will? But I loved your advice to pray over my goals. Thanks!

  2. DreamChaser57

    Great post. I am currently reading a PF classic, Think and Grown Rich by Napoleon Hill (1937) -early on in this work the author talks about the importance of setting a goal, meditating on it, and taking affirmative steps to bring the goal into fruition. From a Christian perspective, I believe God wants us to focus on HIS Word and the promises it contains. I think the act of setting a goal can activate a dull and dormant faith.

  3. Josh

    Bob, I was so excited to see your post tonight because just yesterday my wife and I sat down and wrote out 5 year goals in different area of our lives. And I just started a blog of my own this weekend and my 2nd post was this morning and the topic was goals! I started reading your blog a couple weeks ago and I’ve found it really helpful and encouraging. Thanks!

    • Vivian

      Thank you for your advise of wisdom. I already asked God one goal and will walking towards to this goal.

  4. Allison

    This post is exactly what I needed to hear today – this week, this month, this year. It’s acting as the push I needed to do something to get out of the rut I’m in. Thank you so much!

  5. Melissa

    Hi Bob. I love this post. Really helps. When you have so much running through your mind on a daily basis it can be discouraging and it could seem like when you talk about these things people will look at you and categorize you as a “Dreamer”. I have experienced this.
    Yes we all dream but aren’t those dreams considered desires too? Some of the people I have talked to don’t see it that way.
    I confided in someone who I thought I could use as a life coach and well, it seems they flat out told me I am a dreamer and a complainer. Instead of helping me and advising me to set goals and be challenged.
    How can you find that right person to be a life coach? God wants us to be successful and live happy lives.
    Thanks for your blog and topics. Without it I would be clueless sometimes.

  6. Bob

    Thanks for the comments all! Glad to hear it is striking a chord with some of you – I wrote this (and many articles) as a way to stir myself up by way of reminder and I love to see others needing the same thing…

  7. Terry

    Hi Bob, As usual you have hit a point with me. I have always been a goal setter. I set a goal when I mow the lawn. Lets see two more strips and I will be over half finished…then I can take a break. I think what I was not prepared for was changing goals and making the necessary correction to achieve what I was after. Enter God! I had to learn to give Him the authority to change what I was doing. Bob, you are a blessing to me. Hebrews 3:12-15

  8. Andrew Gray

    I have a 5 year goal. And it is going to sound more than remarkable, even impossible. God has called me to wealth, which is odd, because I hate money. Can’t stand it. But it does have a habit of flowing towards me, then like the waves on a beach rolling back before coming even closer. Why do I write this? Well the target God has set for me is to live on 10% of my income. I have a family, and I am currently training to be a pioneer/fresh expressions minister. Next year I am to take up a curate’s post in the UK. But 4 years later I could end up either in a paid position in the Anglican church or else be an Anglican minister who is self financed, and go and set up churches in unexpected places. Sohow much does 10% equate to? About £25k to be able to afford housing and running costs…that means raising £250k a year and giving away £225k. I have spoken to many people about this vision, at first tentatively, and I got no knockbacks, only encouragement. Then people started to say they were interested in how I was going to do it. I felt pretty stupid saying I was blogging it. However there are ways of calculating the income, and I didn’t feel it impossible. Especially as a managed business. So I started http://icyclelite.com which will net me, potentially, half of the 250 I need. I will manage it as a company, and expand as necessary to reach the desired figure. As I have told other people, some of them have said they want to join in, and now I have a growing team. I am just training them now. And the vision expanded…to £2.5million a year with 10+ people working on it. At this last weekend I was talking to someone who is very connected in the UK to fresh expressions ministry in community, and once I am sure that the system is both teachable and solid, if I would talk to all his contacts. That would give me access to another 500 people a year or more, all who need to set up some sort of self funding for ministry. All this to be done in 5 years. 5 year plans? Dream big…but plan on transforming the lives of others rather than your just your own.

  9. Terry F.

    Terrific post. I sometimes find myself waiting to know “God’s will” before I will do anything. Generally, it’s due to reluctance to take responsibility for my choices, and a hope that God will take complete control of my life. I am slowly learning that God reveals His will to us gradually while we are actively living life, directing us to make corrections as needed.

  10. Miss Alma

    Hi Bob,
    Loved the article! Putting trust in God is the number one way to set goals, but I still find it hard to do it. It seems that life and fear always get in the way. You are an inspiration to keep trying. Thank you!

  11. Klavzz

    Hi I agree with everything you said, I believe in setting goals and writing them down – but I think I have only prayed ‘half-way’ so to speak over them because I sometimes feel that I am not near there yet. Will definitely take your advice on this one.

    However I have been noticing online a lot that coaches and motivators etc have always touted that there will be failures. BUT why does a business venture ‘always’ have to fail before resurgence? Didnt David take one stone one sling and had only one shot? – and HE because of his belief came out victorious.

  12. Suzanne

    I absolutely loved this post. I’m very goal oriented and a serious list-maker. I’ve hesitated to set long-term goals on paper, however, simply because I didn’t know how to reach them. So it was good to see that I don’t necessarily have to know the how in advance. I think we’ll sit down as a family tonight and discuss our family and individual goals together.

  13. fehmeen

    Setting goals is crucial for a fulfilling life, regardless of how rich or poor you are. It’s half the job to simply determine what you want in life and figure out how you will achieve it. Every step you take in that direction will make you feel good about yourself, and keep motivating you to go further and further!

  14. Karla

    As a 23 year old collage student, I find my self constantly worrying about my future. I have come to the point where I have put my future in the hands of God who can see far beyond what anyone else can see. It is quite scary to step into the unknown, but this post has helped me understand that it is okay to have goals, I had the same struggle of trying to not prioritize my own goals over Gods will. It is a refreshing post. Thank you.

  15. Ilaisaane Veili Samiu Tavake

    I am agree with setting the goals for my life which will help me with all things but first of all put God first in everything then continue on.

    Thanks very much for the advise


  16. Karen

    Your article spealso of the important stuff of having faith…but u close with saying “best of luck”… There is no “luck” n faith. God is n control of all things. That saying sends a Very conflicting message :/