In just a few short days, the month of January ends and the month of February will begin. Where did the time go? I feel like I was just celebrating New Year’s Eve. Right before the clock strikes 12, everyone is preparing to say good-bye to the past year in order to welcome a fresh start in the new year; which usually consists of keeping New Year’s Resolutions.
In previous years, I was one of the many people that set New Year’s Resolutions. I would resolve to spend more time in God’s word; workout more; develop a budget to save money and pay off debt, etc. Each year, I would start off motivated with good intentions to make positive changes in the year ahead.
I would be on track towards keeping my resolutions through the second or third week of the month. Then, out of nowhere, I would hit an unexpected roadblock. By the end of the first quarter of the year, my resolutions were non-existent. I couldn’t figure out how to stay on course towards completing my goals.
I took a leadership training that introduced the concept of setting SMART Goals instead of setting resolutions. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Setting goals using these 5 characteristics would result in more effective goal-setting; thus increasing my chances for success and being able to navigate my roadblocks with ease.
The bible says to “Write the vision and make it plain (Habakkuk 2:2). Instead of resolving to “work out more”, I would “do cardio 3 times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for the next 3 months in an effort to lose 10 pounds.” I was certain that the answer that I was looking for to stay consistent with my goals was found in this 5 letter acronym since I was making my goals plain.
Write the Vision and Make it Plain
“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. Habakkuk 2:2-3
First, I made sure my goals aligned with the Word of God. I found scriptures to stand on for my goals. I confirmed that God wants me to mature in my faith, to be healed and self-disciplined, and to manage my finances as a faithful steward.
Next, I followed the Habakkuk 2 principle that tells me to “Write the vision, and make it plain.” I wrote my goals down and made them plain using the SMART goal principle.
Lastly, I followed the example of our forefather, Jacob from Genesis 30. I created a vision board and made sure it was visible before my eyes on a daily basis. I started the New Year, following the leadership training, armed with SMART Goals to tackle my faith, fitness, and finances.
My outcome was still the same despite my efforts. I didn’t make it to the second month of the year before I fell victim to my old habits. Discouragement and disappointment begin to set in. Automatically, I blamed myself since everyone else could set their SMART goals and accomplish what they set out to do. On the other hand, I kept running into opposition.
It seemed like the harder I tried to do the right thing and stick to my goals, the harder it became. Just as I was about to throw in the towel with my goals for the year, I came across another person that was going through the same thing I was: the apostle Paul. In Romans 7 (MSG), Paul says,
I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; Even though I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
Those were my exact sentiments. My actions were confusing. I would do the opposite of what I knew I should be doing. It seemed as if the outcome of achieving the goals was beyond my control, despite all of the effort I put into setting the goals and my willingness to want to do better. Unbeknownst to me at the time, what happened as a result of my decision to do good was out of my control. Paul revealed that my SMART goals didn’t take in to account the attacks of the enemy that would follow.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. Romans 7:21 NIV
The Problem with SMART Goals
The problem with SMART Goals is they don’t prepare you for the enemy’s attacks. Being a child of God makes you an enemy of the devil. Sometimes we forget that the devil is a supernatural being. He sees what we are doing and his goal is to do whatever he can to stop us and get us to turn away from doing God’s will.
Jesus explains this in Mark 4 with the parable of the sower. In the parable, the sower symbolizes a person that has good intentions of hearing the word. However, in 3 of the 4 scenarios where the Word is sown, satan comes to take the Word that was sown. In one scenario, he used tribulation and persecution to prevent a person from hearing the Word; and in another scenario, he used the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things.
In 1 Peter 5:8-11 (MSG), Peter warns us that we need to be on the lookout for enemy because he is always on the lookout for someone that he wreak havoc in their lives by knocking them off course. He reminds us that everyone falls off track in their lifetimes and that, although it may seem like we’re alone, we’re actually in great company in the body of Christ. Lastly, he encourages us to stay focused on what we set out to do because, ultimately, God will have the final say.
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.
The next time you sit down to plan out your goals, also plan to be tested and tried by the devil. It shouldn’t surprise you when you plan to wake up early to spend time with Jesus that your alarm clock malfunctions. You also shouldn’t be caught off guard when you create a plan to save money or get out of debt and then have to pay an unexpected bill. Happenstances will no longer get you off track from achieving what God has for you to achieve.
Be Transformed By the Renewing of Your Mind
My husband and I decided not to set New Year’s Resolutions or SMART Goals this year. Instead, we decided to allow Christ to transform us by renewing our mind according to Romans 12:1-2. We recorded a video to discuss how we are moving away from the customs of the world so that we can walk in God’s perfect will for us.
Have you been wondering why it was so hard to accomplish your goals? Please share your experience and how you overcame it in the comments. Liked this post? Please share and follow!
Grace and Peace