As a result of Part I and Part II ( of “Let’s Get Started: Take the Time to Pray and Write Your Goals”, are you ready to get started? Have you prayed and sought the Lord about what goals He would direct you to achieve? Have you thought specifically about what you would like to accomplish over the next year and the action steps you will take to achieve your goals. As a prerequisite, this endeavor must begin with God in prayer, fasting, and meditation. Many people immediately jump to temporal concerns, such as getting out of debt, starting a business or losing weight. However, I suggest that the first goals you write should involve spiritual goals such as strengthening your personal prayer life or spending time in study of the Word or memorizing more scripture. You should then list your goals under specific goal categories such as spiritual goals, educational goals, business/career goals, financial goals and personal goals or other focus areas pertinent to you. Some practical suggestions for setting your goals are as follows:

1. Get a journal to write the goals in or a loose leaf notebook and divide the note book under the relevant categories. As Habakkuk 2: 1-4 records, we should “write the vision and make it plain…” so that “…he may run who reads it.”

2. Freelance writer, online columnist and former stay at home mom for 15 years, Patricia Chadwick, suggests that you get away by yourself for a day in order to really think about the goals you want to set for you and your family without any distractions. Alternatively, establish 2 or 3 hour sessions until you complete your assignment if you are unable to do this for a day. Turn off the phone and television. Do not go on the Internet –especially Facebook. To set her goals she uses a loose-leaf notebook with a yearly calendar in it and breaks the notebook into 12 categories.

3. Prayer warrior and writer, Cynthia Bezek, in the article “Plan to Grow” suggests that once your goals have emerged, consider each goal and find as many verses as you can to support that goal. Use the concordance to look up key words. Write relevant passages into your notebook. This process helped her to internalize what the Lord was teaching her.

4. Write down promises you may need to rely on and “eat” them in order for God to accomplish each goal in your life.

5. Write down specific action items you must undertake to accomplish your goal in a manner that will help you to measure your progress.

6. Make your goals S.M.A.R.T. — Specific (not just lose weight, but instead “lose 35 pounds”); Measurable (How will you know when the goal has been accomplished by how much or how many?); Attainable (Goal too out of reach may not be completed. 20lbs a week vs 4 lbs a week for the first two weeks ); Realistic (“never eat chocolate again” — , but better to say limit it to one day a week!); and Timely (set a date – If no date there is no commitment).

7. Throughout the year review the goal notebook to see how you’re doing. Make a note of the goals upon which you need to revise or begin work on. If you‘ve accomplished a goal, then check it off.

8. God is sovereignly in control of our future. He enables us by grace to pray about and pursue goals that agree with His perceived will for our lives. He has the ultimate say in our destiny. ( See James 4:13-17). God has the final say about our destiny and we must be prepared for God to make changes in our plans. His sovereignty is no excuse for our failure to step out in faith to write the vision and to take action to implement the vision He give us, or to procrastinate or to remain stagnant out of fear.

Remember to Make Your Goals S.M.A.R.T.

We must be clear about what, where, when and how we will achieve our goals. A useful acronym to apply to assist in setting effective goals and objectives is S.M.A.R.T.

The S in S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific. Answer the 6 W’s – Who, What, Where, When, Which (identify requirements and constraints) and Why. Do not set the goal to broad. Be able to break it down to small achievable parts in a specific time period.

The M in S.M.A.R.T. stands for Measurable. What concrete criteria can we employ to measure our progress? It is important that the l goal be measurable. If the goal is not measurable then it will be hard to know if you have achieved it and you may give up because you do not know if you are making progress. Answer the questions —How much? How many? How will I know I have accomplished it.?

The A in S.M.A.R.T. stands for Attainable or Achievable. We must make an effective action plan. Begin to figure out ways to accomplish your goal. You goals should stretch you and cause you to grow and expand to reach them, but not be too lofty, although we know we can do all things with the help of the Lord. Goals need to be reasonable and achievable. For example, losing 15 pounds in 30 days is unrealistic (unless you’re planning a medical procedure). Losing six to eight pounds in 30 days is reasonable. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting goals that are out of reach.

The R in S.M.A.R.T. stands for Realistic. It means the goal is “do-able” and that the skills are available to get the job done. Therefore, you are both willing and able to work to achieve the goal. A goal can be both high and realistic. Do you have the ability and commitment to make your dream come true? Or does it need a little adjustment?

The T in S.M.A.R.T. stands for Time. We must set specific time deadlines that allow a realistic and reasonable amount of time to accomplish each goal.

Everyone will benefit from goals and objectives if they are SMART.
Let’s declare that even if you did not start at the end of last year 2010 or the first of this year to write your goals, you are getting started today. Not another year of saying “shoulda-coulda-woulda” for the great things that should have been achieved, by me or by you. Let’s get started.

Linda Fegins,
The Prayer Leader,
Former Prayer Director and Coordintor for Lydia Cirlce for Christian Buisness and Professional Women,