Many people make resolutions at the beginning of a new year. They firmly commit or recommit to a course of action or goal.
Science indicates that goal setting increases our Systolic Blood Pressure, pushing more blood to our brains and bodies, ensuring that we have what is needed to think and carry through with our plans.¹
Additionally, the brain’s Reticular Activating System (RAS) is activated as we write out goals.¹ The RAS helps our brains focus on the things in our environment that are associated with achieving the goal. For instance, if one starts thinking about starting a family, they will take note of couples who have children. What they say, what they do, everything about couples and kids, simply because they set that goal.
And as we behold, we are changed in ways that help us meet the goals that we set before us.
No wonder the prophet Habakkuk was instructed by the Lord to “write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end–it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:2,3 ESV).
Setting of goals in this case was not only to benefit Habakkuk. It would also benefit many others. It would help those who read the goals to know how to “run,” and to persevere in the accomplishing of the goal.
Years ago a specialist in goal setting coined an acronym that has been useful to many as they set goals. For a goal to be effective, it must be S-M-A-R-T. Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound.
Let’s briefly consider each of these suggestions.
S – Specific
Goals are most helpful when they have a particular area of focus. Seneca, the Roman philosopher, once said, “He who is everywhere is nowhere.” We need focus if we are to accomplish things. The Apostle Paul understood the concept when speaking of the fight of life. He said, “I do not run without a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something–not just the air” (1 Corinthians 9:26 NCV).
M – Measurable
If you run a race, you need to know when you have reached the finish line. Likewise, if you are attempting to improve your health, another common goal, it is important to know your numbers.Your goals should be measurable–try setting an amount of time you will work on them each week or a number of items you will complete by a certain date. Luke 14:28 says, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it?” Before you start your new resolutions, make sure you have a metric in place to check your progress.
A – Attainable
Setting goals that are unattainable can lead to anxiety and frustration. We need goals that push us but goals that are also believable. Both science and Scripture indicate that many times, more is possible than we ever thought. Science documents that our brain cells (neurons) can actually change more than people initially would believe. And Scripture indicates that we can “do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13).
R – Relevant
Goals need to line up with what we believe to be true and accurate. Research indicates that when this happens, we are much more likely to find long-term success. Scripture reminds us that “unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). In other words, make sure your goals match with God’s, and you will avoid frustration and find ultimate fulfillment. Why? Because “the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations” (Psalm 33:11 NIV).
T – Time bound
Goals need to have definite end points, or deadlines. These help focus our attention and keep us moving toward the objectives that define success. Without this, people lack a sense of urgency and forward movement. Jesus illustrated this by His dialogue about a tree that was not bearing fruit (Luke 13:6-9). The man in the parable noted the tree’s lack of fruitfulness and gave it one year to become fruitful.
Remember, God has plans and goals for your life! He says:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11 KJV, emphasis added).
God’s plans are based on His thoughts. The very thoughts He thinks toward you! Isn’t it wonderful to know that He is specifically interested in you?
But there is more good news. Amos 4:13 says, “For behold, He who forms mountains, and creates the wind, who declares to man what his thought is.”
And how does he do this? Through His Word! That’s why It Is Written continues to focus on the Word of God. I want to encourage you to read God’s word, meditate on His word and share His word, because in it we find His plans for our lives and His plans for the entire world.
In this new year, join us in resolving to:
-Read and meditate on God’s Word.
-Talk with those who read God’s Word.
-Pray that God will reveal His plans for your life.
As we pursue God, we will discover His plans for our lives, and we can claim the marvelous promise of 1 Thessalonians 5:24: “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”
God will not only reveal His plans, but He also takes responsibility for accomplishing them in your life!