Making Resolutions vs Goal Setting

Its that time of year again, when people make resolutions to lose weight, clean out the garage, save money, quit smoking, learn a new skill, read a certain book, go to Church, be a better friend, mother,wife or parent …. or, you fill in the blank.

Its a tradition in the US to make New Year’s resolutions. Most of us know what we need to do and are eager to jump on the bandwagon of changing things in our lives. The problem with resolutions is that they are easily abandoned with the first misstep. The first time a problem is encountered, the resolution is laid to the side and forgotten until next New Year when we go through the same motions of changing things but not really experiencing change.

If we’re serious about changing something in our lives, then we must set a goal to do so. Goals are so much better than resolutions. Goals have permanence. Goals have steps to achieving them. They have more weight in our minds because we have to really give them a lot of thought and prayer. Goals are for people who are serious about change.

Here is a primer on Goal Setting. This is how I set goals and go about achieving them and what has helped me throughout the years.

Step One: Pray about your goals

God is intensely interested in your goals. He already knows what you should be doing and what you should be trying to do in life. So it makes perfect sense to consult Him and find out what your goals should be. Pray and ask God to show you what goals should be a priority in your life for the coming year. God speaks through His Word. So, as you pray, read the Bible. Use your usual reading method or a yearly reading chart or a devotional such as Our Daily Bread. Jot down impressions, thoughts and ideas as you read and pray.

Step Two: Write It Down

Take time to pray and search out God’s goals for your life. When you are sure you know what your goals are, list them. Then, one goal at a time, write down steps to achieving that goal.

Each goal can have several steps to achieving it. But like anything else in life, you start with the first thing, first. Read your steps to each goal and order them according to what must be done first. For example: If your goal is to give more money to charity in the coming year, you may need to start with a budget. Then, your next step may be to save $20 per week from each paycheck and put it into a savings account. Writing down your steps makes the path to the goal clearer.

Step Three: Start Working

When you begin to work on a particular goal and you are doing each step to achieving the goal, take each step prayerfully. We’re not perfect people, and God may need to steer us in a somewhat different direction as we take each step. The idea is to do one thing at a time, always in prayer, seeking God’s input and direction. And remember that God’s input doesn’t mean He is suggesting something …. it means when He speaks we obey!

When you have achieved a step, celebrate! Praise God and thank Him for leading you this far. Note the occasion by writing it down. In the Old Testament, people set up Memorial Stones called Eb-en-ezer (1 Samuel 7:12). A memorial stone is there for all time to remind us of something God has done in our lives. As you accomplish each step, memorialize it in some way to God’s glory.

When your steps are done, you will have achieved your goal!

There will be some set-backs.

There are inevitably some things that just don’t go right. There will be times when the goal seems very far off. And there will be times when you feel like giving up.

When things don’t go right, you must ask yourself if you have done every step as God has shown you to do. You must pray and make sure you are hearing God correctly and be honest with yourself about what God is saying to you. God is always the same, but we are changeable creatures and we are often dishonest with ourselves because we want things our way. Be honest. Listen to God and then obey. His Word to you will always be upheld by what the Bible says. It will never violate the scriptures. So listen and obey to the letter.

When your goals seem far off and unattainable, its time to stop looking at the goals and pining for them. Its time to get focused back on the steps to achieving the goals and getting those steps accomplished.

And when you feel like giving up, look up. God will give you strength to carry on. Remember, He knew what those goals were before you ever asked Him. So, He also has a plan for you to achieve them. The strength, knowledge, ability and desire to get those goals accomplished are all in His hands, and He will give them to you if you ask and keep on asking. Don’t give up!

There is a great poem entitled, Do The Next Thing that was shared many years ago by Elizabeth Elliot. The poem talks about life being difficult and not knowing what to do, and feeling defeated… but doing the next thing. That is how it is with goal setting sometimes. Those steps are not always pleasant to do. You can’t always see the goal clearly as you take the steps, but if you want to reach the goal, you simply must do the next thing.

Resolution making is fun. Its sometimes encouraging and motivating. Goal setting though is for the long-haul of life. My prayer for you, you who are reading here, is that God will give you what you need to reach your goals and that you will remember that if you are serious about change …. you will set goals, write down steps to accomplishing those goals and rely on God to guide you to your goal.

From an old English parsonage,
Down by the sea,
There came in the twilight,
A message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend,
Deeply engraven,
Hath, as it seems to me,
Teaching from Heaven.
And on through the hours
The quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration-
DO THE NEXT THING

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment,
Let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity,
Guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows,
Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus,
DO THE NEXT THING

Do it immediately;
Do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence,
Tracing His Hand,
Who placed it before thee with
Earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence,
Safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all resultings,
DO THE NEXT THING

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
(Working or suffering)
Be thy demeanor,
In His dear presence,
The rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance
Be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness,
Praise and sing,
Then, as He beckons thee,
DO THE NEXT THING

-Author unknown

About Sylvia

Sylvia Britton is the owner of the Christian HomeKeeper website and ministry and began the ministry in 1997 when her husband brought home their first PC. She and her husband Mark live in Tennessee and are the parents of 5 grown children and grandparents to five so far. They homeschooled their five children from 1991 to 2016. Sylvia is a Christian and worship leader in her local Church. You can follow her on Facebook or consider joining her Facebook Group called Christian Homekeepers and Like her official CHK Page on Facebook.
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6 Responses to Making Resolutions vs Goal Setting

  1. Amy J. says:

    This is just what I needed. Thank you so much. Happy New Year!

  2. Sylvia says:

    Thank you for your thoughts. Amanda. I think you have the right idea – goals, resolutions… none of it works unless we rely on the Lord’s strength.

  3. Amanda says:

    Well, I guess one could say “I am resolved to meet my goal of (fill in the blank)”. Would that work?! After all the definition for Resolution is the act or process of resolving. Making that final decision that you’re going to do it.
    For me, my goal for 2011 is to lose another 50 pounds. This is my goal for the next 5 1/2 years. So in a sense I’m resolved to meet my goal of 50 pounds a year until I reach my healthy weight! I give God the glory for what has been lost thus far because I know I can’t do it on my own.

    Prayer makes all the difference in the world, to give up oneself to the Lord and give Him the control over whatever it is you are trying to change or do. To admit to yourself that you do not have the will power or the self control to do this on your own. Saying you fully acknowledge and submit to the Lord my mind, body, and strength to fulfill whatever you are struggling with.

    Elisabeth Elliot wrote a book called Discipline. It’s easy to say to someone to give it over to the Lord, but then once something bad happens we take back the control instead of trusting Him. This has been something I’ve had to learn this year. It’s never going to be easy for any of us, there will always be those stumbling blocks, but we have to remember we are not going through this alone. Our Father in Heaven doesn’t want us to He’s here for us, to help us through these daily trials and temptations. And I’m not just talking about weight loss, even the daily chores we women are faced with, the decisions that affect us and our families…these are the things we do not have to face alone. It just takes discipline to yield everything to the Lord and say “Your will, not mine”. I still am unable to pray on my knees comfortably due to my weight, but every morning I do sit at the end of my bed and gladly surrender the day to the Lord. And that’s really all we have to do, is surrender to God and witness what He will do in us, through us and around us.

    Sorry for going on and on….I’ll be praying for everyone and the goals you have set for the new year. God bless you all!!

  4. yvonne says:

    Sylvia ~ another wonderful article, praise the Lord! Spoken to me in a time of life I am struggling with. I am on my knees for my husband, my children and my friends and family who are not saved. This Christmas has been one of my worst, but also one of my best. Confusing I know! LOL…looking back over the year, in fact the last 10 have been so hard, but God has been changing me, and although this christmas appeared to be a sad from my point of view, God has given me great peace, but it’s taken me a LONG time to fully hand over my life and esp my marriage to God and to fully trust him.

    • Sylvia says:

      Yvonne, you and your family are ever in my prayers. And isn’t that the way God seems to work so often? The worst yet the best.
      Praise God for His never ending love and compassion on our lives. I believe that is what will finally draw your husband to Him.

  5. Karen says:

    Great article and great advice Sylvia!! I really love this; full of wisdom!