Personal Growth

(Unsplash/Cathryn Lavery)

Many people tell me they don't make resolutions, because they don't work. They can't seem to keep them. And, apparently it's true. Every year I see the same reports telling us how many people don't keep the resolutions they make. No encouragement there.

So, in the past I have shared some broad resolutions that are more life directions than actual resolutions. Here is an example. Here is another. And, one more.

I know this, however, seldom do we hit a target we haven't yet identified or located. So, if you want to improve in certain areas of your life, you need some new direction to get you there. You'll have to make some changes in what you are currently doing.

Call them goals if you want. That seems to be a more popular word these days, but decide a few areas in which you want to see improvement, then put some goals in place to help you get there. Making positive lifestyle changes isn't easy, but it really does start with that simple of a process.

To help you get started, let me share some thoughts on setting goals you can actually reach.

3 guidelines I use for choosing achievable goals:

Quantifiable

Make sure you can make the goal measurable. Don't say you want to lose weight. Decide how many pounds you want to lose. Don't say you want to read more. Say you want to read one book a month—something like that. You want to read your Bible more? Then set a goal to read one chapter per day. Not "save more money," but save $50 per pay period and so on. Put an actual number to the goal you can track to see your progress towards it.

Reasonable

Set a goal you can actually attain. Otherwise, you'll give up easily. If saving $50 per pay period is completely unreasonable, then decide the reasonable number. It probably should be some stretch to make it worth celebrating later (a key component in goal setting), but make sure you can do it. Losing 10 pounds per week is going to be tough—perhaps even unhealthy, but two pounds per week might be a goal anyone can do with a little discipline.

Motivated

Pick goals you are passionate enough about to put the energy and discipline in it to achieve success. Do you really want to lose weight? Do you truly want to do better with your finances? Is reading your Bible absolutely a goal worth pursuing? Your degree of motivation will likely determine how committed to achieving the goal you remain.

If you think through setting quantifiable, reasonable and motivated goals, and then you consistently practice them for a month, or two, or better yet three—you'll be well on your way to successfully completing them. And, the satisfaction from that will be worth celebrating. And, please celebrate. It'll keep you wanting more progress towards your goals.

If you are really serious about this process and want more, read this post on writing a life plan.

Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky.

This article originally appeared at ronedmondson.com.

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