I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I am all for making healthy and positive changes, but the statistics support my aversion. With a dismal 8 % success rate,1 I have personally committed to begin a new approach either before the year ends or well after the year has begun.
The biggest reason I avoid the New Year as a start date for change is this: New Year’s resolutions are seldom true resolutions based on the conviction and motivation necessary for success. They are typically good ideas based on what we think should happen. Rarely do they reflect a steadfast resolve to achieve something better, but rather are more like wishful thinking.
Nevertheless, January seems to be the prime time for leaders to set goals and engage in strategic planning. Regardless of the date on the calendar, it is crucial to consider your level of buy-in. Is this another good idea or passing fad, or are you deeply committed to doing what it takes to accomplish it over the long haul?
For the Christ-follower, the most important step of effective goal setting is to identify goals that are God-ideas instead of just good ideas. Make sure that your goals align with God’s direction. Books, seminars, and leadership blogs provide excellent tips and ideas. However, they may not necessarily work for you given your context and culture. They may not represent God’s mind for you and your organization during this particular season.
I realize there are volumes written about how to understand God’s will. Even with myriads of advice, it is still a topic that seems mysterious. After all, can we REALLY know His will? How can we distinguish God-ideas from good ideas? Admittedly, seeking God’s will is a faith venture, and I would never pretend to have the definitive answers. However, there are some simple steps that guide the process. I highly recommend keeping notes of your discoveries for easy reference.
- Ask the Lord for wisdom. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (NIV).
- Pay attention to inspirational thoughts during prayer. Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd. Because we belong to Him, we can recognize His voice (John 10:1-16).
- Be open to guidance from the Word of God. God speaks through His Word. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105, NIV).
- Enlist input from respected, mature believers. Benefit from the wisdom and insight of others. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed (Proverbs 15:22, NIV).
- Pray for clear direction. Ask the Lord to open doors of opportunity and to close doors that are not potential areas of focus (Revelation 3:8).
Spend time pondering Proverbs 3:5-6, as you seek God-ideas for your plans and goals.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take (NLT).
When you trust in the Lord and seek His will, He will show you which path to take. He will reveal His goals to you, those God-ideas that are worth pursuing.
1. Dan Diamond, “Just 8 % of People Achieve Their New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s How They Do It,” Forbes.com. January 1, 2013, http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/01/01/just-8-of-people-achieve-their-new-years-resolutions-heres-how-they-did-it/2/