“What’s your BIG goal in 2024?”
For fun, I asked this question at our recent New Year’s Eve party. It stopped people in their tracks. “Um, I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it.”
But within seconds, most of them knew. “Lose 20 pounds.” “Become conversational in Spanish.” “Run a 10K for the first time.” “Clean all the junk out my garage.”
One person said, “I don’t make resolutions.”
I said, “I don’t either. What’s your BIG goal?”
Immediately, she saw the difference. Resolutions are little more than wishful thinking. Goals, however, have the power to inspire and motivate us to take action.
Dreams with a Deadline
In essence, goals are dreams with a deadline. And that’s why we need them. Deep down, each of us yearns for dreams to be fulfilled, relationships to be mended, and personal changes to be made.
But change is hard. Many of us have been down this road before. Our attempts at transformation have fallen short just enough times to make us believe it’s useless to try. When there, we succumb to what Michael Hyatt calls, “The Cynicism Spiral.”
The spiral begins when our hopes for change are disappointed. Ongoing disappointment leads to frustration which is followed quickly by anger. Prolonged anger turns into sadness and ultimately depression—a form of anger turned inward.
The spiral culminates with cynicism—a self-protective behavior we all use to insulate us from more disappointment.
When we’ve tried to make changes in the past, we might have experienced one or more of these emotions. I know I have. That’s OK. There is a process that can move us beyond cynicism to real change.
But first, beware of the danger. If we hold onto cynicism, it will sabotage the results of the process outlined below. Cynicism makes us feel stuck. Truth be told, we are battling a psychological barrier.
Our brains are 2X more afraid of loss than our desire for success. It’s our fear of losing that makes BIG goals feel scary.
We are built to avoid potential loss even if we’re just as likely to succeed. Throw in a self-protective layer of cynicism from past losses and the odds of change are stacked against us.
Beating the Odds
The good news is anyone can beat those odds. BIG goals can be achieved with a 4-part strategy:
- Clarity – Know exactly what we want to achieve by when. Write it down.
- Commitment – Give ourselves to it fully. Pray for it daily.
- Course of Action – Plan the specific action required, enlist the outside help needed and review goals weekly.
- Community – Find people to lovingly hold us accountable to take the steps required to change.
Each part of this strategy is indispensable. If one is left out, significant change is unlikely. But together, these four elements create a nearly unstoppable force.
Sure, BIG goals can feel scary, but we know how to overcome that now. It’s simply not true that real change is a pipedream. That’s fear and cynicism talking, not faith.
2024 is our year to get unstuck. Let’s pray for God to do BIG things and put together a strategy to see it happen.
Believing with you,
Everything is possible for the person who has faith.-Jesus, Mark 9:23 (GNT)
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A native of Cambridge, Illinois, Roger has served as a pastor in Texas, the British Channel Island of Guernsey, and Illinois. While in Illinois, he led teams that planted two new churches and served for 10 years as senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Springfield. It was his privilege to serve as the Director of Congregational Excellence in the Missouri Conference before coming into his current role as an executive coach and specialist with Spiritual Leadership, Inc. (SLI). His passions include SCUBA diving in warm blue water, playing board games with family and friends, and teaching evangelism and church planting as an adjunct professor at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. He also has a weakness for golf.
Roger is the author of three books, “Meet The Goodpeople: Wesley’s 7 Ways to Share Faith,” “Come Back: Returning to the Life You Were Made For,” and “Come Back Participant Guide,” all through Abingdon Press. Roger is married to Leanne Klein Ross, and they have two adult children, Zach and Jane (who’s married to Sam).