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What the Goal Gurus Won't Tell You About Success

I’ve always been a goal-directed person. The other way to say it is I’ve always been a dreamer. I’ve dreamed many dreams and I’ve lived many of them. Although I’ve read much about how to achieve goals, I don’t believe that the successes I’ve had are because I’ve followed the advice of the goal gurus.

I achieved my goal of being a “real writer” despite the fact that I had no written goal to this effect. I did not review my goal daily nor did I break my goal down to determine what I needed to do in a year, a month, and a week to make my goal a reality. Apparently I just got lucky because conventional wisdom has it that those who fail to plan plan to fail.

Beyond SMART Goals

Creating traditional S.M.A.R.T. goals doesn’t hurt and I have used the method myself satisfactorily. However, I don’t believe that any of these tips or tricks is an automatic ticket to success. We know this intuitively, but don’t often reflect on it. Did Henry Ford give himself a Stuart Smalley pep talk every day as he sought to build a marketable automobile? Did he do a weekly review to determine his list of next actions? Doubt it. Can we imagine beloved movie character Rocky Balboa setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal after meeting with Tony Robbins to become heavyweight boxing champion of the world? I can’t. Yet they achieved their goals. How?

I believe that God empowers every successful person because Scripture says so. 1 Samuel 18:14 reads:

“In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him.”

Much to the consternation of the goal gurus, God doesn’t require goal tracking software to achieve His purposes. In fact, God doesn’t even require us to be motivated to succeed. Philippians 2:13 tells us:

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

As I review the goals I’ve achieved, I see God behind both the motivation and the process that brought results.

Do You Need a List for Your Most Important Goal?

Yesterday I emailed a list of goals for the week to my friend who is trying list-free task management with me. I told her that I wasn’t going to check the goal list until the week was over. As I pondered whether this was a wise approach, I realized that if I need to check my list because I can’t remember the goal , is it really a goal for me? If I’m so unmotivated that I have to be constantly reminded of my goal, what are the chances I’ll succeed? Did Henry Ford and Rocky Balboa need daily reminders of their goals? No. Their goal and their life were one.

That’s what I want , too–to have my life and my goal be one and to have God be the one motivating me onward. If you want a written goal to reflect on each day, try this one on for size:

Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

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