“To-Do” lists. Decisions to get that home project done. Plans to go on that dream vacation after all these years. “I will do…”, “I will start…”, “I am going to stop…”. We have all made January 1st resolutions to remodel a room, lose weight, mend relationships, go back to school, and on and on and on. What makes a vision move into the realm of mission – the dreaming to the doing? How do we actually DO what we say we want to do or BEGIN what we say we want to begin?
Knowing the facts about your situation and yourself. Understanding what your strengths and gifts are. Clarifying what your values are as a moral compass . Discovering the themes and recurring situations that have shaped who you are. Realizing that if you change nothing, nothing will change. These create awareness. But then we need to ask ourselves what is my “why?” within God’s bigger WHY?” – the reconciliation of the world to Him in Christ. This is vision. This is His showing me what part I will play in His story of redemption and how He has allowed life experiences, given us strengths and gifting particular to moving forward to accomplish that vision. These are the fuel that drives our desire to create strategies, take action, and make goals toward that end. The engine is revving now – kind of like us when we have our GPS tell us where we are before we type in where we want to go, then see what directions pop up to get us from here to there.
Strategy and Action are the directions from here to there based on the awareness and vision the Lord has brought to our consciousness. We know our inclinations, our status quo, God’s “Start Here”. Now we need to ask ourselves what is the next step, what actions do I take to get to God’s “There”? What is one thing this week I can do to begin moving toward that “There” I now have a heart and motivation for? So here are some questions to help take that first step:
What could you do? (Make a list – brainstorm!)
Which of those options do you WANT to pursue? (Motivation is key.)
What is your commitment level to take this step? What is affecting my commitment level in this step? (Commitment is follow-through. Without it, failure and discouragement and depression can result.)
These questions begin the process of action toward a goal, but there is an acronym that helps us check our action/strategy/step at the door, so we get even clearer on the what and when of our intended goal :S.M.A.R.T. Goals
S – Specifics. What is the step or action that you specifically want to accomplish? What is the outcome you want? No vague, “I will try someday to something.”
M – Measurable. How can you state this goal so you know how to recognize when you have reached it and measure progress as you go towards it or implement it?
A – Attainable. It is within your capabilities and depends only on you. Now this doesn’t mean you don’t need support from others and the empowerment of God. It means you are not going to say later you couldn’t accomplish it because the “other” in the equation didn’t help you do so. This needs to be something you can do physically, mentally, using your strengths and gifting, not dependent on others to bail us out or do the work instead.
R – Relevant. It relates to the vision, gifts, strengths, values that you have and does not send you off on a tangent that gets you no closer to reaching your goal. Why is this step important or significant in reaching your goal?
T – Time specific. It has a deadline. By when will you reach your goal or this become an established habit or change? When will you start taking this step/these steps? When will you finish – when do you want to be done?
I share all this with a very great awareness that it is more than intentionally coming up with steps and making sure they are “S.M.A.R.T.- proofed”, that will help us make plans and carry them through to a successful end. If all I do is these two things – steps and SMART goals – I will have modified my behavior, but skipped over the biggest and most crucial step in making changes: I need God to help me implement the changes for them to be permanent and life- transforming. Now hopefully much of that need was discovered in Awareness and Vision, but here in Strategy and Action it needs to be evaluated again to be sure the goal is an outflow of my need of Him and my desire to glorify Him with the action I take. Does this fit within God’s big “WHY”? Can others see Jesus in me as I carry them out? Am I trusting Him to guide and empower? Will this step glorify me or Him?
Awareness, Vision, Action and Strategies are processed. SMART goals have been explored. This step/these steps glorify the Lord and I am trusting Him to work in and through me to accomplish them. So…did you write them down? Did you put them somewhere you will be reminded of them? Are you praying over them daily? How do you record the status of the goals as you approach and move through the steps to achieve them? I ask all that because I have listened to great talks or had great talks about making changes and then lose the essence and thus the reminder of what, how, and when I wanted to follow-through with them. Forward movement and change never happens.
Here are some ideas:
Write them out on note cards and keep them in you purse or put them on the fridge in a visible place.
Write them out in your journal – one you use daily. Review them daily.
Use a dry erase marker and write them out on your bathroom mirror to begin your day seeing them. Put a check by them or draw a line through them when they are accomplished. Praise God and do a happy dance of thanks when you do – this keeps God center.
Make them into your desktop picture so that when you are on your computer you see them.
Read them out loud daily and surrender them to the Lord in your prayer time or throughout the day.
Tell a friend for accountability and prayer. Ask them to remind you daily or ask for progress reports to keep you accountable.
Now we all know that as we become aware of the need to change, get a vision for what and how to make it so, creating strategies and goals to address them, that we will encounter obstacles – us or others, financial, mental, physical, emotional,spiritual, lack of support, need for more resources. That is next week. May the Lord walk you through these steps and bring real and life-changing transformation as you surrender it all to Him! See you next week – can’t leave the obstacles to ruin the party!
What strategies and actions have you taken after becoming aware and getting the vision the Lord has for your life? What did you discover about yourself through the process of making SMART goals and looking for power to stay committed to them? What have you learned abut God as you have set your goals and attempted to reach them? What ways have you discovered work best for you to keep those goals front and center?
Write the answers down and share them with others – let your change be an encouragement to others to make changes for themselves!