Getting in shape is not a goal. That is a wish. Goals have got to be specific. You need timelines. One of the ways I’ve increased the specificity of my goals is by attaching ages connected to them. One of my goals is to run a triathlon. Another goal is to run a triathlon at 60+.
I also think you need to make goals measurable.
I want to write 25 books.
I want to take a three-month sabbatical.
I want to run a 10K.
Each of those goals is measurable.
I was challenged and convicted a few years ago by something David Yonggi Cho said: “God doesn’t answer vague prayers.” Let me explain why. I think vague prayers are cop-outs. God doesn’t answer vague prayers because they don’t require any faith and God doesn’t get the glory. Sometimes we pray in such vague terms that there is no way God can or cannot answer our prayers. I think we’re vague because we don’t want to hold ourselves accountable. Or we’re afraid. It was incredibly difficult attaching a number to some of my goals—especially the writing goals and giving goals. It’s tough to put those numbers out
there, but if you don’t do it you won’t accomplish it.
J.C. Penney said, “Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I will give you a man who will make history. Give me a man without a goal and I will give you a stock clerk.” I recently read The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. He and Mark Hansen are the co-authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series that has sold more than 80 million copies worldwide. They have what they call their “2020 vision.” Their goal is to sell one billion books and give $500 million to charity by tithing the profits before the year 2020.
I love a lot about that vision.
It is what Jim Collins calls “a big hairy audacious goal.” A billion books! That is one-seventh of planet earth! But I love the fact that their focus is on giving rather than getting. They want to give half a billion dollars to charity! And they have a timeline. Goals are dreams with deadlines!
Celebrate Along the Way
Our family has a New Years tradition. We go to Tony Cheng’s in Chinatown for dinner on New Year’s Eve and we celebrate the past year. We talk about our best memories from the past year. And you know what I have discovered. The best memories were once goals. I accomplished several life goals this past year. I took Summer to a Broadway play. Parker and I learned to snowboard. Lora and I celebrated an anniversary in Italy. And I ran my first triathlon.
Those are incredible memories. But they started out as goals.
One of my favorite Hebrew words is Ebenezer. It means hitherto the Lord has helped me. When you accomplish a goal, it is an Ebenezer moment. And you need to celebrate it and commemorate it. I recently accomplished one of my life goals: hiking the Grand Canyon from rim to rim. To celebrate and commemorate it, I bought a “rim to rim” t-shirt.