How to Set Goals as a Christian

Three Red, Green, and Yellow Printer Papers

The new year is a common time to focus on goal setting. It’s a time when dreams, aspirations, and hopes for the future are on the minds of everyone, overflowing in endless resolutions and plans. I honestly love this time of year: I’m a planner at heart, and goal setting gives me so much joy. I love the atmosphere of a fresh start, of a clean slate, of new and exciting things waiting just around the bend.

Today I want to share a little bit about my goal planning process and what some of my goals are; but first, why set goals? And how do we do it from a Christian perspective?

Should Christians Set Goals?

Goals can be a good thing or a bad thing for the Christian. They can be a wonderful tool that we use to become closer to God and pursue His glory through our lives. Like anything, however, they can also become an idol, something that we use to try to live self-sufficiently rather than resting on God’s grace and sovereignty.

I have definitely pursued goals for all of the wrong reasons in the past: I’m a perfectionist, and I have a tendency to want to do everything all at once and by myself. My goals can so easily make me too busy for God, or cause me to compartmentalize God as one more item on my to-do list. But I’ve been growing into taking a more balanced, grace-based approach to goal setting.

One suggestion I can give for faith-based goal setting is to understand the “why” behind everything you are trying to accomplish. Are your goals motivated by a pursuit of God and His glory? Or by self-glorification and selfish motives? When you have the right motive, and you keep it in the front of your mind throughout the year, you will be sure that your goals are driven by a desire to honor God and that they will not drive you further away.

Additionally, when your goals are connected to the big picture of God’s glory, you will be much more likely to seek Him in everything you are doing, seeking His Spirit and His leading. Consequently, you will be much more likely to stay motivated, since you will be drawing on God’s great well of encouragement and strength to get out of bed each morning rather than trying to push yourself through life.

The most important way to honor God with your goals is to go through the planning process prayerfully, seeking what God has taught you in the last year and what His will for you is in the new year. It might not always be super clear, but seek His voice to the best of your ability, and have an open mind to be willing to switch gears in the middle of the year if the Holy Spirit leads you in a different direction. It’s okay to change your goals as you grow and change! You should be flexible and have an open mind, focusing on progress and not perfection.

How I Set Goals

For my goal setting, I’ve been using Powersheets.

This is only the second year I’ve used Image result for powersheetsthem, but I really love the approach they take. Cultivate What Matters is a Christian company, and I would definitely recommend checking out the Cultivate Blog, as well as the blog of Lara Casey, the founder. I have found of both these to be wonderful resources on goal setting from a Christian perspective, and even if you don’t get the Powersheets, there are tons of free resources as well!

The Powersheets take you through a series of journaling prompts to uncover your best goals for the year, help you plan action steps and figure out your “why” for each goal, and then include monthly journaling and trackers to help you remain focused throughout the year.

Some of the journaling prompts include:

  • A life evaluation where you score eight different areas of your life from 1-10
  • Good things, challenges, and lessons learned in the previous year
  • What you are saying “no” and “yes” to in the coming year (for me, staying in my comfort zone, seeking mountaintop moments, a fixed mindset vs. faithfulness in the small things, diligence over perfection, time in God’s presence)
  • What fires you up (i.e. the beach! looking at the stars! laughing really hard! a good book! people you love!)
  • Choosing a word for the year

Then you comb through all of your journaling so far, find the common threads, and turn those into goal ideas. Those goal ideas get grouped together under “goal buckets” that bring together the ones with common themes. By the end, you have anywhere from 1 to 10 big goals that you further break down and plan for in the year ahead. It’s a great process to uncover what really matters to you and stop setting arbitrary resolutions.

My Goals for The Year

To demonstrate how this practically works, here are just a few of my umbrellas for the year, along with explanations of my “why” and some of the smaller goals I’m working toward along the way.

Faith // I feel like I grew a lot in my faith last year, and I want to continue on that path of growth. This is the bedrock of my entire life, and none of my other goals will be worth anything unless I am connected to God and wholeheartedly pursuing Him first.

Breakdown of this category: do consistent daily devotions//invite God into my everyday life more and more//go to as many campus ministry events as possible

Career // I have three areas which I am pursuing seriously at this point in my life: English education, dance, and writing. These are the three areas where I feel gifted and called to pursue God’s glory, and I need to commit to diligent, day-by-day work if I’m ever going to get anywhere. Planting the seeds for a fruitful ministry through my career begins now.

Breakdown of this category: get good grades in my classes//keep a dance journal//really commit to each dance class//write blog posts consistently//work consistently on novel revisions

Finances // Money has always been something that I largely took for granted, felt guilty about, or just generally didn’t put much effort into. But God has given me money to use as a practical tool for his glory. This year, I want to create a good foundation for the way in which I save and spend money, creating habits now to support an adulthood of financial freedom. In the shorter term, I’d really like to buy a car sooner rather than later, and graduate college with as little debt as possible.

Breakdown of this category: get jobs on campus and in the summer//make and stick to a budget//do more journaling and planning to uncover a few other ways I can make progress (using this supplement)

Rest // There are many activities in my life that fill my soul and give me restoration and refreshment. But when I get busy, I tend to forget about those ideas and immediately go to things like social media and YouTube. I want to do more of the things that bring joy to the everyday, that keep me happy and filled on a daily basis.

Breakdown of this category: read 50 books//spend time outside daily//learn to identify constellations//play the piano weekly//make space for conversation, whether deep or ridiculous

These aren’t all of my goals, but a few of the main things I’m working toward in 2019. Hopefully this helped you gain some perspective on Christian goal setting, and I may revisit some of these at the end of the year to share things I learned and how I’m continuing to grow!

Do you set goals or resolutions in the new year? What is your process? Or do you hate resolutions and prefer to wing it? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

P.S. Three Habits to Cultivate Now

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Three Habits to Cultivate Now (+giveaway winner!)

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I’m so excited to announce that the winner of my very first giveaway is Jazzy Belle! Congrats! Please use the Contact form to send me your address sometime in the next few days, and I’ll mail you your goodies! 

For me, a new school year has always been my favorite time to set goals for myself, even more so than January. It’s a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to come one step closer to the person who you were made to be.

But if you try to change everything about yourself overnight, it won’t last (trust me). The better method is to slowly, patiently cultivate some new habits, making some small but lasting changes that will have an impact on your whole life. Focus on a few areas where you know you could improve, a few things that will have a positive effect on your physical, mental, or spiritual health as you move forward in life.

If you’re stumped, here are three habits that would be especially good to cultivate while you’re a teenager.

1. Memorizing Scripture.

This is one of those things that will only get harder as you get older (or so I hear…). So take advantage of your young brain and memorize chunks of the Bible now to comfort, encourage, and inspire you when things get tough down the road.

If you have no idea how to begin, here are a few great resources to help:

2. Attending church every week.

For some of you, this is a no-brainer. On Sundays, your families get up and go to church; it’s just what you do. Even though this might be something you’ve done for as long as you can remember, make sure to actually think about why you do it, to own the practice for yourself, so that when you’re on your own it will still be a weekly habit.

And if your family doesn’t go to church every week, it should still be a priority for you to find a church family and a way to get there on Sundays! There is no greater gift that God has given us than the church, and regular fellowship with other believers is one of the most essential aspects of the Christian life. Rooting yourself in a Christian community, no matter where in the world you end up over the course of your life, will be one of the best things you can do for your spiritual health.

3. Setting aside regular time to read.

Reading for school doesn’t count in this category – I’m encouraging you to read books that you choose! Whether that’s fantasy novels, biographies, or Christian nonfiction, regularly reading outside of your assigned books is a much more productive use of your time than always watching TV or scrolling through social media. Some of that is fine, of course, but reading helps stimulate your brain and your creativity. Getting in the habit of always having a book on hand now, as a teenager, means you’ll probably read a lot of really great books in the years to come!

To get started, check out these previous posts:

And if you’re looking for more recommendations, I’ve done lots of book reviews, so browse through some of those for ideas!

 

I’m not going to claim that these three habits will totally change your life. But each of them will have a small, positive impact that will ultimately last longer and have a greater effect on your well-being than all of those superficial, overnight changes that disappear in a month.

Don’t feel like you have to “remake yourself” this school year – start small, and gradually you will build a life to be proud of.

What do you think? Are you already cultivating any of these habits? What habits do you want to add to your life this school year? Share in the comments! 

A final note before I go: School starts for me on Monday, so I’ll be switching back to my weekly Saturday posts. I love posting more often when I can, but weekly posting is always the most realistic schedule for me during the school year! 

love, grace

Read more:

24 Resolution Ideas for Christian Teens

Why You Need to Overcome Procrastination

4 Time Management Tips

January 2017 Month in Review

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We’re already at the end of the first month of the new year. How are you doing with your goals? Are you living bolder, better, brighter for God in the new year? Accomplishing everything you could have dreamed?

Or are you, like me, realizing that God’s plans for you mostly involve seemingly small, mundane, ordinary things?

I’m learning that progress doesn’t happen overnight and that sometimes the hardest part of the Christian life is trusting that God is working in you even when it doesn’t feel like it. Trusting that He is in control of every small task that comes into your life and every small worry that crosses your mind.

Big goals are great, but don’t be discouraged if you aren’t accomplishing the lofty things you had hoped. Simply move forward into the next month, one step at a time, seeking to live for God in all things, small and big, and look for the little victories that are evidence of a greater work in your life.

This Month’s Devotions

I’m following the yearly reading plan laid out in the back of my Bible. I started late, but just doubled up a couple of days to catch up and now I’m on track. I just finished reading through the Bible, but I’ve never actually read the whole thing in a year, as the first time it took me a little longer. We’ll see what happens.

Some truths from this month:

*God will always provide what we need, and even more than we need (from Exodus 4-6)

*God is terrifying in anger, but that anger will never be used against us- only for us (from Exodus 15)

*God knows what He’s doing when He prompts us to do certain things in our lives…why would we question Him? He is the all-powerful God of the universe and knows so much better than us

*Equal treatment for all people is a very important part of God’s law system (Exodus 23:1-9), yet equality for ourselves should not be our focus; instead we should focus on serving others (Matthew 20:25-28)

Bloggings

This month I started a series on dating in the teen years (more specifically, why I’ve chosen not to). There were three installments:

why I'm not dating in high school 1.jpgGod’s Purpose for Romance

why I'm not dating in high school 2.jpgGod’s Purpose for Singleness

why I'm not dating in high school 3-corrected.jpgAvoiding Drama and Temptation

from other blogs…

From Mirriam Neal: become (super inspiring) and a super helpful hack for fixing flat characters

Observer > Critic (this sounds like a very hard but also very worthwhile mindset shift)

Even though getting old isn’t even on my radar yet, I loved this post: Your “Age” is Defined by Your Attitude, Not a Number

7 Tips for Victorian Happiness (this post is why I followed this blog)

If you were wondering about my political thoughts, other Grace says it perfectly

How to Find Time to Read More. Not sure if this was helpful or not…but definitely entertaining!

Readings

Image result for till we have facesImage result for the rose and the balloon by kirsten fichterImage result for interrupted by rachel cokerImage result for little womenImage result for little men bantamImage result for little men bantam

  • Till We Have Faces: 4 stars. Obviously very good, since it’s C.S. Lewis, but I felt like I didn’t quite get the point of it or something. Probably need to read it again.
  • The Rose and the Balloon: 3 stars. Imperfect, since it’s a self-published book by a young author, but a cute story and a light, quick read.
  • Interrupted: 4.5 stars. I loved this book so much! Probably my favorite of the month. It was such a sweet romance with a deeper message, completely clean, and a Christian perspective.
  • Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys: 4-5 stars. Rereads all, and all just as good as the first time 😉

A few articles I enjoyed:

A final note: if you haven’t discovered The Babylon Bee yet, you’re missing out. It’s Christian News Satire from Christians and as long as you don’t take any of it too seriously, it’s really funny.

Watchings

Image result for sherlock season 4Image result for becoming janeImage result for les miserables movie

  • Sherlock, season 4: 5 stars. Oh my goodness. This season tossed my heart around and made me laugh and cry and scream and if you haven’t yet watched this show I think it is literally the best TV show I’ve ever seen and you need to watch it.
  • Becoming Jane: 4 stars. This was a really good movie! (Although sad…so don’t expect a happy chick-flick ending.) Would probably recommend to ages 14 and up because of a bit of content.
  • Les Miserables: 5 stars. So, so, so good!! I can’t believe it took me this long to watch it. Again, some content, but the scenes are easily fast-forwardable. The music is incredible and the cast is amazing and there is lots of food for thought as well.

Listenings

Image result for ruelle up in flamesImage result for hamilton logoImage result for the music of jane austenImage result for evynne hollens covers vol 1Image result for age of minority podcast

  • Up in Flames: I recently discovered Ruelle, an alternative singer with some really great songs. You might especially like her if you’re a fan of Twenty One Pilots or similar bands.
  • Hamilton: Introduced my sister to Hamilton this month! (She loves it.) If you haven’t listened to it yet, please do! It’s amazing.
  • The Music of Jane Austen: Loving this as something to listen to while I do homework or write.
  • Covers Vol. 1: This has been my go-to album lately when I don’t know what to listen to. Evynne Hollens is amazing and every song on here is so good.
  • Age of Minority: This is a podcast started by Jaquelle Crowe, editor of The Rebelution, and her dad. They talk about different topics related to being a Christian teen in today’s world, as well as lots of fun topics as well. So fun to listen to and highly, highly recommended! Find it here.

Upcoming in February

  • A continuation of my series on dating, discussing how to develop your convictions, what to do if someone asks you out, being content to be single, and more.
  • A review of Sherlock seasons 1-4. (And yes, I know I keep promising this and it doesn’t happen…I will get it done at some point!)

 

How was your January? Did you read, watch, or listen to anything amazing? What are you excited for in February? Tell me in the comments!

love, grace