This year is going to be different

Ever said that? I have. The beginning of a new year is a great time to make some positive changes in your life. As the old year fades into memories, you can let old habits fade, too. The start of a new year is a great time to start some new habits.

I’m going to make some new year’s resolutions to …

  • … be a better parent.
  • … be a better student.
  • … be a better Christian.
  • … be a better whatever.

It’s one thing to make New Year’s resolutions—it’s quite another thing to keep them. So let’s drop the idea of resolutions; let’s set goals instead. Resolutions sounds so binding and formal—Raise your right hand and repeat after me: I resolve to … Goals, on the other hand, are something you work toward.

  • What goals could you set to make yourself a better family member?
  • What goals could you set to make yourself a better employee/employer?
  • What goals could you set to make yourself a better neighbor?
  • What goals could you set to make yourself a stronger believer? (A bonus here is that any goals you set in your spiritual life can help you in reaching the goals you set for the other areas of your life.)

The Key to Reaching Your Goals

The key to meeting goals is self-discipline. Discipline is not a word anyone likes to hear. For me, it conjures up memories of trips to the vice-principal’s office. But let’s think of self-discipline as something positive.

  • “He will die because there is no discipline, and be lost because of his great stupidity” (Prov. 5:23).
  • “Poverty and disgrace come to those who ignore discipline, but the one who accepts correction will be honored” (13:18).

Discipline won’t bring you shame; discipline will bring you honor! The Olympic athlete works hard to win a gold medal. She doesn’t wake up one day and decide, “I think I’ll go to the  Olympics this summer. Now, what event shall I do at the Olympics?” The athlete spends years in hard, rigorous training, and when she receives her medal in front of millions of people, she knows the discipline she underwent was worth It. The writer of Hebrews noted that truth:

“No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11).

Don’t be afraid of a little self-discipline. It’s the key to reaching your goals and becoming the person you want to be.

1. Have the right motivation. I am not much of an athlete. It’s not a great concern for me whether I win or lose. I play simply for the enjoyment. If winning was of great importance to me, then I would work at being a better athlete. But as it is, there’s no motivation for me to work hard as an athlete.

On the other hand, spending time with God on a daily basis has become of extreme Importance to me. I have become convinced that the only way I can do anything worthwhile for God is by beginning my day with Him in prayer and Bible reading. That conviction has become my greatest motivation.

What motivates you? What pushes you to do better in a certain area? Regardless of what motivates and drives you, one motivation you should consider is the motivation to honor and please God. God is pleased and glorified when you strive to be the best you can be.

2. Be accountable to someone. When you have made up your mind to reach a certain goal, tell someone. You are less likely to quit or fail if someone else knows what you are trying to accomplish. Enlist someone who will encourage you, support you, and pray for you.

3. Create steps of action. Get down to practical and specific details. Create a list of measurable, practical things you must do in order to reach your goal.

4. Evaluate the results. After you have been in the discipline of carrying out your plan of action, ask yourself, “Are these steps actually helping me move toward my goal?” The steps of action you created should be measurable steps. You are either doing them or you are not. You may want to change some things. For example, if you are still having trouble getting up in the morning for your quiet time, devise a new plan of action.

Remember, carrying out a specific plan of action is not your end goal, but only the practical disciplines that will help you reach your goal.

God has not left you alone for you to try and do your best. If you are a follower of Christ, He has empowered you with His Holy Spirit. You don’t have to rely on your own strength. God Himself is right there with you to help you. As you trust Him, He empowers you with what you need.

“The fruit of the Spirit is … self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).

Trust God on a daily basis, and He will see you through to your goal.

Strive for Excellence, not Perfection

What if you don’t reach a goal you set? You are not a failure! You may not have reached your exact goal, but if you carried out a plan of practical steps toward reaching that goal, you are a far better off than you were before you started! And wasn’t that the real, underlying goal: to improve? If you strive to be perfect, you will always fall. But if you set a course of self-discipline to do your best, you will be a success in God’s eyes. Strive for excellence in all areas of your life. Lean on God and seek His help in being the best you can be.

Excellence is not found in being the absolute best; excellence is found In doing your best.

Subscribe to this blog or like our Facebook page. And share this post with others.