It’s not too late to make the most of 2020 — and beyond
Now that we are well into 2020, the hype of New Year’s resolutions has worn off. This can actually be a great time to identify goals and measure progress.
Here are six principles for staying focused and purposeful throughout the year:
1. Measure Wins
Some might say, “Why bother? My goals never make it past the first part of the year.”
But if you stop to reflect, write, celebrate and appreciate some of the wins over the past 12 months, you might find you did better than you thought.
It can also be helpful to measure wins in shorter sprints than a full year. Why not track progress monthly, or maybe even weekly?
As a church planter, I purchased a baseball home plate from a sporting goods store and kept it under the platform in the sanctuary. On occasion, I pulled it out for a leadership meeting or even a Sunday morning service. Stepping on that plate while talking about something we had to celebrate gave everyone a way to visualize our win.
How long has it been since you stood on your own home plate and measured wins? It’s a huge motivator for moving forward. And taking time to acknowledge God’s blessings and give thanks is a biblical principle (Psalm 9:1; 1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 4:15; Colossians 3:17).
2. Dig Deep
Don’t just choose the obvious goals people consider every January, such as losing weight or cleaning out the attic. Dig deeper. Don’t limit yourself to objectives of little eternal value. Ask God to give you His vision.
What if you identified a goal that’s a first for you — one that changes somebody’s life, that leaves a legacy, that makes the world a better place? What if you pursued a mission that reflects the very heart of God? Take some time to think, pray and dig deep.
3. Count the Cost
Before you take the first step toward your goal, identify your quitting point — that place where you will say to yourself, This isn’t worth it to me. Here is where I throw in the towel.
Another way to say it is this: What are you willing for this goal to cost you? Be honest with yourself from the beginning, and say what price is too much to pay to accomplish this goal.
I recently watched the movie Aeronauts about an air balloon voyage to learn how to predict weather. At one point, pilot Amelia Wren climbed up ropes tied around the outside of the balloon, with bleeding hands in freezing weather, to kick in the frozen vent on the top of the balloon with her boot.
What if you pursued a mission that reflects the very heart of God?
That was the spot in the movie when I said, “OK, that’s when I would throw in the towel. I could not do that!”
When doing pastoral counseling, I asked a young couple in their first premarital counseling session, “Under what terms would you give yourself permission to divorce?”
The young couple got bug-eyed and serious and a little bothered I would ask such a question. Now that I’m older, I recognize it probably wasn’t a particularly wise pastoral counseling technique.
But I wanted the couple to lock in on the reality that marriage is for keeps and divorce wasn’t an option for either of them — or if it was, that they both were aware on the front end how committed the other one was.
4. Check in Regularly
As time drifts you away from your well-planned strategy for accomplishing your goals, it becomes important to check in regularly. God’s idea of working six days and resting one day (Sabbath) creates a good rhythm for evaluating your goals.
Consider looking back at your progress each six days to celebrate and recalibrate. Then look forward at the upcoming six days. Make your plan, adjust, schedule the appointments, and reserve the time slots necessary to work at your goals. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
5. Develop Systems
Find tools, or develop your own system, that will help you take steps toward your goal. There are many apps and journals available, whether you’re looking to measure your steps, journal your nourishment, quantify sleep or schedule appointments.
When you look at how you plan to walk out the steps toward your goal, what system will help you do that best? Don’t be afraid to create your own.
Just one word of caution: Don’t adopt a system that’s too complicated to maintain. The system should serve you, not the other way around.
What will you intentionally stop doing in the new year that will contribute to your win or simply allow the space to start doing things of higher priority? In Necessary Endings, author Henry Cloud suggests identifying what needs to go, then feeling good (instead of guilty) about bringing things to a healthy ending.
I know it’s hard to let go of old practices. It’s hard to redefine roles and relationships. There’s a desire to keep it all when, in reality, the good needs eliminated to make room for the best.
Michelangelo said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” For your God-given vision to become reality, you may need to cast off some things that are in the way.