Posts Tagged ‘Goals’

New Beginnings[Note: I was asked to speak at a church gathering earlier today on the topic of “New Beginnings.” What follows is a slightly modified version of that talk.]

It’s a new year – a natural time for us to think about new beginnings, a time to say goodbye to some things and to initiate positive change.

We hear a lot this time of year about resolutions. Some people make them – some don’t. Some set goals – some don’t. The kinds of resolutions or goals we most often hear people make each New Years includes exercising more, losing weight, eating healthier, quitting smoking, etc. Some of you may have made those very resolutions or set specific goals in these areas. I certainly have. It’s good to be intentional about positive change.

So today I want to share with you 3 thoughts on new beginnings – 2 kinds of new beginnings available to us plus one additional focus we need. These apply anytime during the year.

The first kind of new beginning is the one you initiate yourself.

I’m a goal-setting type. Last year and this year I organized my goals into categories of body, mind and spirit. That helps me feel like I’m being fairly well-rounded in my focus. This past week I finalized my goals for 2014 which you can read here. These are examples of goals that fall into the category of initiating our own new beginning.

Each of us knows ways in which we can improve. We have a God-given brain and body that God expects us to use for his glory, and initiating positive change regularly is one way to do that.

To encourage us in such efforts, we have the assurance that Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7-8: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” Paul’s admonition was in the context of proclaiming the faith, but the assurances are true regardless of the application. We need to claim and practice the self-discipline God grants to his children to carry out self-initiated new beginnings.

Your new beginnings will look different than mine. You may have fewer goals or more – the quantity doesn’t matter. You can organize them differently or not at all, but it seems like we have the responsibility to do and to be our best and to work hard on making the most of this life God has granted.

So the first kind of new beginning is that which you initiate yourself.

The second kind of new beginning is that which God wants to initiate in you.

2 Corinthians 5:17 tell us that “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone; the new has come.” It is one of the great assurances of Scripture – a promise that, behold, he makes all things new.

God accepted us as we were in our sin, but he does not want us to remain there. He told the woman caught in the act of adultery, “Go, and sin no more.” Knowing Christ ought to make a difference in our lives from one year to the next as we grow in holiness. What our lives looked like before Christ ought not be what our lives look like in Christ, and what we look like today ought not be the same as a year from now.

We’re familiar with the “fruit of the spirit” passage from Galatians, but I wish we also quoted the verses before and after the fruity verses. Galatians 5:19-21 says: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you as I did before that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Then we have the well-known verses 22-23: “But, the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.” And then Gal. 5:24 concludes with “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”

The whole passage from Gal. 5:19-24 shows what life is like without Christ contrasted to what it can be with him. It is a challenge to grow in holiness that ends with a reminder that we must cast aside the old if we are to put on the new. We can only do so as we remain in the vine of Christ. We cannot do it of our own strength, wisdom and effort.

Like the Galatians passage, Paul wrote to the Corinthian church in 1 Cor. 6:9-10 another long list of patterns of sin. But Paul follows that list of sins in verse 11 with: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

This is the kind of new beginning God wants to bring about in you and me. He wants to move us from who we used to be and from who we are to who we can become in him. It’s my guess that God has some aspect of our character or behavior in mind that he wants to change this year to make us more like him.

If only we could grasp our state of forgiveness and what the Lord has done on our behalf in rescuing us from an eternity in Hell, we would never ever choose to remain where we are in life. Rather, we would eagerly desire to grow in holiness.

Let me share with you an idea that has gotten me into trouble before because it’s not what most of us were raised to think. It isn’t what has been modeled by the pillars of the church we’ve heard praying all our lives. It’s a statement some of you make take issue with, but I believe it is soundly scriptural and necessary for us to understand in order to cast aside the old and take on the new. Here’s the statement:

Once you become a child of God, you never again need to ask God’s forgiveness for anything. Read that again to make sure you read it correctly. The book I read a couple of years ago which finally helped me grasp this was The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley. I recommend it to you.

As good little Baptists, we have this tendency to always group confession and asking for forgiveness together. It is as though we think we can’t confess our sin to God without also asking for forgiveness for that sin. While that is appropriate and necessary for someone coming to Christ in repentance and faith for the first time, it is not what should characterize the relationship between God with those who are already his children. Confession and asking for forgiveness are two very different things. Here’s why…

When we initially repent of our sin and place our trust in Christ, he forgives us at that moment of conversion for every sin we have ever committed as well as every sin we will ever commit. From that moment, Romans 8:1 is true for the believer, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Is that a license to keep on sinning? Of course not. Paul says “God forbid” at the thought of sinning more so that grace may abound more. Nobody who loves God would disrespect God in that way. We want to please those we love, not hurt them. We want to live in gratitude to those who have shown us kindness and mercy – especially God. True believers don’t use the knowledge of their forgiveness as a flippant “Get Out of Hell Free” card to be used after self-indulgent sinning sprees. Anyone who tries to play that card doesn’t really know or love Christ.

If we are in Christ, though, we are forgiven, and there is no need to ever ask his forgiveness again. Now, it doesn’t work that way in human to human relationships because we’re fickle and if someone we’ve forgiven in the past ticks us off, we may or may not forgive them in the future. But God isn’t like that. He has forgiven his children completely forever.

If we are to be open to God doing a new thing in us, then we need to understand that forgiveness is different than confession of sin. We still sin, of course. God knows that. He sees that, and it is right and proper to humble ourselves before him and acknowledge what he already knows. It is good to humble ourselves before our brothers and sisters in Christ and confess our sins one to another. The scriptures tell us to do that. It helps hold us accountable. It keeps us from getting puffed up and thinking too highly of ourselves. It reminds us of the work Christ still needs to accomplish in our hearts and minds.

As I child of God, though, when I confess my sins to him, the reason I no longer need to ask his forgiveness is because it makes no sense to keep asking for that which we already have!

Imagine, for example, this scenario. You’re a parent of a young child and you buy a new house. The child has his or her own room and big boy/girl bed for the first time. They’re so excited to sleep there! It’s theirs!

Now imagine that on the second night of living in that house the child comes to you as the parent and says, “Mommy, Daddy, can I have my own room and my own bed again tonight?” You’d think, of course you can! It’s yours. You don’t need to ask – I’ve given it to you. If the child continued to come to you night after night asking for that which they had already been given, at some point you’d have to wonder if the child understands the nature of the parent-child relationship and what has transpired in the giving of a gift.

It is that way with God’s forgiveness of us. He has forgiven you if you are his child for all of the sin in your life – past, present and future. When he looks at you, God doesn’t see the last thing you did and judge accordingly. He sees the righteousness of Christ because all of your sin was crucified on that cross with Christ, and all the righteousness of Christ has been credited to your account from that moment of conversion forward.

Yes, we must continue the process of sanctification throughout this life. Yes, it is good to continue to humble yourself before God and confess all you want. But don’t keep asking your Abba, Father, for something he has already given you as if he may have given your room and bed to someone else since the last time you asked.

When you confess your sin this year, I challenge you not to precede or follow that confession with “Father, forgive me…”, but with “Father, thank you that have you have already forgiven me.” See what that does to your understanding of forgiveness. See what that does for your devotion and gratitude to him. It will leave you not with a desire to take advantage of his forgiveness, but with a desire to bow before him in humble adoration and eternal gratitude.

You are forgiven if you are his child. Grasp that. Be amazed by that. Be humbled by that. And this year can be one where you truly are no longer bound by the sins of your past, but one in which God can start a new thing in you for his glory.

There is one more thing about new beginnings that I think our world needs…

We need to be more intentional about encouraging others in their new beginnings.

As fellow human beings in a world of hate and anger, society needs more people encouraging others in their efforts to change for the better. That means we don’t pigeonhole people as hopeless and incapable of change. Just as God has given us second chances, we need to do the same for others. That doesn’t mean we tell others uninvited how we think they ought to change! It does mean that we be supportive in any way we can just as we would like them to be toward us.

So, those are my thoughts on new beginnings this year.

  • Initiate some of your own using the God-given brains, body and self-discipline he’s given you.
  • Abide in him so that he can abide in you and initiate his desired changes.
  • Along the way, be kind and supportive to others in the new beginnings they pursue.

Happy New Year 2014I set a number of goals for 2013, most of which were achieved as reported in this end-of-year progress report. After careful consideration of what worked and what didn’t last year, and after determining some directions I’d like to go in 2014, I’ve settled on the following personal goals for this year, not including those for my work. Like last year, I’m categorizing them as related to body, mind and spirit, although there are a few that might cross over to multiple areas or not necessarily fit well into any of those categories.

One thing I learned in last year’s pursuits is that some goals can become such daily habits that you no longer really need to call them out as goals and bother with tracking them. A few that are like that for me now are keeping my weight at or below 145 pounds, reviewing weekly the 100 Bible memory verses that I chose several years ago to burn into my brain and heart, and writing handwritten letters to my sons twice a year. So even though I’ll still be doing those, they won’t be recorded and reported here. I want the public goals I share to involve pursuits that add a new challenge and interest.

After feeling like I tackled too much in 2013, I’m setting some goals this year that reflect a desire to have a little more down time and rest. To do so, that time has to come from somewhere, meaning I have to do less in some areas than I did in 2013. Here, then, are my personal, non-work-related goals for 2014.

BODY

  • Average at least 10,000 steps per day every week. I’ve averaged more than that since getting my Fitbit Flex in September, but 10,000 is an easy-to-remember goal and the threshold for earning maximum rewards from the HumanaVitality program offered through my company’s health insurance plan. That’s the equivalent of five miles per day, so that’s a healthy, reachable number that takes about an hour less per week than I’ve been doing the past four months.
  • Do a stretching routine daily. I have a nice set of stretching exercises that I do before and after runs that I’ve done for years, but I feel the need to do them daily for the value they bring, whether or not I’m running.
  • Run 365 miles for the year. I haven’t run regularly for a few years. I walk a lot and occasionally jog some while out with the dog, but I want to do better at running this year. I don’t care how these miles are spaced out throughout the year. I won’t try for one mile every day. Some weeks will yield more miles than others, and that’s OK. All of these steps are included in the 10,000/day in the goal above, and actually save time since I run about twice as fast as I walk.
  • Average 7.5 hours of sleep a night. My 2013 goal for sleep was six hours per night – more than previous years, but my body is telling me I need more. This will be very difficult for me to do because the time to do this has to come from elsewhere. Tracking it accurately with the Fitbit is easy, though, and I’m determined to work at it.
  • Average no more than 45 hours per week for work. I can’t remember the last year I worked less than 50-55 hours per week on the average, so this will be a serious challenge for me. I’ll have to be better at letting some things go and at training and delegating other colleagues and volunteers to make sure all still gets done. I’m placing this goal in the body category since consistently working too many hours takes more of a toll on my body and time available for other things than it does on mind or spirit due to how much I love my work.

MIND

  • Author or co-author a book related to enterprise social networks. It’s time I wrote a book. I would like to create an e-book related to my profession because I don’t think there is enough in print to help guide others whose roles are similar to mine. The weekly Twitter chat I lead on the subject – #ESNchat – is an incredible source of information and knowledgeable contacts, so by the time I’ve led that for nearly a year in September, 2014 I should have a wealth of information to write or collaborate with others to write a very helpful guide for those that manage enterprise social networks. I’ll probably just give it away online when written to get the info out there. I’m not planning on writing it for profit. Making a positive impact on the profession and perhaps getting some conference speaking engagements as a result will be adequate reward.
  • Write 100 blog posts. For 2012, I wrote a post a day – 366 of them. In 2013 that went to one every other day. For 2014, I’ll back that down once again to one every 3-4 days. Since I’ll be writing some substantive posts for other websites in 2014, those will take more time than I typically spend on posts for my own blog. To account for that added time, I’ll write fewer posts on my this blog, although I’ll post a notice and link here to posts I write elsewhere.
  • Set up Pinterest boards and pins to coincide with my blog categories and posts. I’ve wanted to do this for a long while, so I need to make it a public goal to hold me accountable for getting it done. With over 70 categories currently on this blog, the plan is to create one Pinterest board per category and then pin all relevant blog posts to each board. Once caught up with all posts going back to this blog’s beginning in 2011, pinning new blog posts will be a part of the publication process for each post in order to keep the Pinterest boards current. I’m thinking about devoting one of my vacation weeks in 2014 for this task.
  • Reserve at least one hour per day for unstructured, unplanned time not related to any tasks or goals. This may seem like an odd goal, but it’s tied to feeling like I didn’t allow myself enough down time last year. By making a goal of giving time to not working on some goals, I’m forcing myself to have more down time and enjoy some spur-of-the-moment activity. (Of course, not having structured time is actually working on this goal, but you get the point.) I’m putting this goal in the mind category since its purpose is to give me more mental breaks.

SPIRIT

  • Finish reading The Apologetics Study Bible. I started reading it late in 2013, but still have 95% of its 2000+ pages to read in 2014. Each 1-2 years I pick a different version or study edition of the Bible to read through. This is the current one I’m working on which will be my first complete read of the version called the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).
  • Read these three major theology books: (1) Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem, (2) Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine by Gregg Allison, and (3) Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George. All together, these three books total 2,400 pages of material that along with The Apologetics Study Bible will be a fantastic theological and apologetic emphasis for the year.
  • Have a daily Bible reading and devotional time. I’ve been too hit and miss with when I do my Bible readings and prayer. I want to develop the consistent habit of doing so daily without fail.

Some of the goals above save me time compared to similar efforts in 2013, while other new goals will, of course, require time not dedicated for those things in 2013. Cutting back my work hours to something more reasonable will go a long way toward finding the extra hours needed, as will taking advantage of the many weeks of vacation time I have or will have accumulated by the end of 2014. I also suspect the TV will need to be turned off more frequently in my man cave.

I have a little apprehension about the above goals – a slight fear that cumulatively I’m not cutting back enough from 2013’s sense of overload. I will reserve the right to adjust the above goals if I find that they’re too ambitious. I’m determined to make sure I have the free time and added sleep needed, so other things will have to go if necessary. Until then, I’ll proceed with the above goals and will report back here quarterly (not monthly as I did last year) on my progress.

What about you? What are you going to tackle this year?

Progress ReportThe year is done. I’ve reported here monthly on my eleven goals for 2013 categorized in the areas of body, mind and spirit. Now it’s time to give you the final report.

Before looking at the details, though, I want to summarize my main lessons learned for the year. I blogged about them separately in the following posts:

While I will continue to be goal-oriented and publish each January 1st a new set of goals, the first of the lessons learned above is a biggie for me this year – rest. I just didn’t allow myself enough time for that this year and there were times when I was weary of having unending tasks before me. All of these goals are in addition to the 50+ hours of work per week I average, so I longed for more free time and less guilt about what was or wasn’t getting done from this list.

The lesson learned related to taking risks was tied to a major chance I took with a potential impact on my career and professional reputation – starting the weekly Twitter chat #ESNchat. Fortunately, that chance continues to pay off in a number of positive ways.

The third lesson related to health comes after a great stride forward in daily healthy behavior once I started wearing a Fitbit Flex in September. The daily tracking associated with that has truly been major in its significance for my daily healthy routines for activity, diet and sleep.

Some of the lessons learned will be reflected in the 2014 goals I share tomorrow, but others are incorporated into my daily life now in such a way that I don’t feel the need to set, track and report on specific goals related to them going forward.

Overall, 2013 was a very, very good year. I am blessed. I worked hard and accomplished most of what I set out to do, professionally and personally. How can I ask for more than that?

Now, on to the details of my 11 goals…

I first published my goals here on January 1, 2013. These public updates have helped hold me accountable. I color-code the goals with green if I am on or ahead of schedule, orange if I am slightly behind schedule, or red if I am dangerously behind schedule. Here is the final status on the goals.

Goals related to body:

1. Keep my weight at or below 150 pounds – COMPLETE. I’m glad to say I kept this all 365 days of the year, lowering the maximum weight to 145 later in the year and staying at or below that goal since then.

2. Walk/jog/run a total of 10,000 steps per day three days per week – COMPLETE. In terms of total number of days for the year, this was completed in early August. Since wearing my Fitbit Flex in September, I haven’t had any day below 10,000 steps.

3. Average at least six hours of sleep per night – COMPLETE. Since getting the Fitbit, I’ve been able to verify meeting this goal. Six hours doesn’t seem like a lot, but it was more than previous years.

Goals related to mind:

1. Read a book every other week. The two reading goals were the ones I was woefully short on achieving. I stopped with 12 books this year totaling a little over 4000 pages beyond the untold amount I read for work. That was a more reasonable total than the 26 book goal.

2. Blog every other day (at least) – COMPLETE. With this post, I complete the goal. I had to do some catching up in December, but I did it.

3. Continue to follow My 3 Words: Ground, Stretch, Reflect – COMPLETE. After doing this the past two years, this is pretty much a way of life for me now. If you don’t know what this refers to, read this post.

4. Double the blog’s readership from 10,000 views in 2012 to 20,000 – COMPLETE. This goal was passed in early October. With over 26,000 blog views this year, the visits increased by more than 160%. Many thanks to all of you readers for making this goal a reality.

5. Continue to write hand-written letters to my sons. I’m working on the final letter for the year to my boys now and will complete it in the next week or so. I’m a couple of weeks behind where I wanted to be, but I’ll complete it soon.

Goals related to spirit:

1. Finish reading the ESV Study Bible and read half of The Apologetics Study Bible. Since it took me until September to finish reading the ESV, I abandoned the goal of reading half of The Apologetics Study Bible also this year. I started reading it and will set a goal to finish all of it by the end of 2014.

2. Review 100 Bible memory verses weekly – COMPLETE. This has been happening for several years, so it is ingrained behavior by now.

3. Come to some resolution regarding an unsettled situation where I worship – COMPLETE.

As I said above, 2013 was a very good year in many ways. I didn’t accomplish all I set out to do, but I did a lot and I feel good about that. As a colleague reminded me several months ago, most people probably don’t even bother to identify goals and track progress for things outside of work, so attempting several in an organized, public manner is out of the ordinary. I’ll be grateful for what was accomplished and won’t beat myself up for what didn’t get done. What I learned about my limits will be reflected in the goals for 2014 that I share on New Year’s Day.

Thanks to many of you for encouraging me in my pursuits this year and for sharing the experience with me. Your presence and words of encouragement make a real difference. I can’t thank you enough for taking the journey with me.

What about you? How did things turn out with your goals for 2013?

image from onlinesciencemall.com

image from onlinesciencemall.com

With Christmas behind us and the new year just around the corner, it’s time to use our mental periscopes and peek around that corner into 2014. It’s time to finalize the goals that will absorb much of our attention for the next 12 months.

Have you thought about any accomplishments you’d like to achieve for 2014 yet? I’ve been thinking about them more and more as this year draws to a close and as I reflect on the success or failure to reach goals I set for 2013. Not everyone is goal-oriented, but I am. It helps me feel like I’m accomplishing things and not getting by with meeting only minimum expectations – from others or myself.

I look forward to sharing my 2014 goals with you on January 1. They will most likely be grouped as they were this year into categories related to body, mind and spirit. That grouping helped provide a well-rounded focus. Some of the goals themselves, though, should be very different from those I worked toward this year. New and different goals help add excitement and enthusiasm to the challenge of pursuing them.

So what about you? Have you been pondering some goals for 2014? Are you ready to commit to them? What will you do to help hold yourself accountable for them? One thing that has helped me is to make the goals public, sharing them here and on various social networks and then providing periodic progress reports.

The new year is fast approaching. What’s around the corner for you? What do you want to be there? What will you do to help make it happen?

Progress ReportOnly one more month of the year to go! This is my next-to-last monthly update on my annual goals that I first published here on January 1 – eleven goals divided into the categories of body, mind and spirit. I share updates monthly as a public way to hold myself accountable. I color-code the goals with green if I am on or ahead of schedule, orange if I am slightly behind schedule, or red if I am dangerously behind schedule.

By mid-November it was evident which goals could be met by year’s end and which would not be. Overall, I’m satisfied with how much I’ve done. I’ve also learned a lot about goal setting that will impact what I plan for 2014, especially considering that these are all goals accomplished in addition to working 50+ hours per week at my job.

So here is where I stand with a few weeks of 2013 remaining.

Goals related to body:

1. Keep my weight at or below 150 pounds. This has been no issue, especially since I lowered the original goal to 145 and maintain that daily. I entered Thanksgiving Day a couple of pounds under so I could enjoy all the normal foods with family that day and not go over the goal. I’ll keep 145 as my goal going forward – no need to lose more.

2. Walk/jog/run a total of 10,000 steps per day three days per week – COMPLETE. In terms of total number of days for the year, this was completed in early August. Since wearing my Fitbit Flex in September, I haven’t had any day below 10,000 steps. In addition, I’ve made sure not to have any 7-day period with less than 80,000 steps total, so my average is a little over 11,000/day now.

3. Average at least six hours of sleep per night. I love tracking this with my Fitbit. I’ve not had a week averaging less than six hours per night since getting the device. It isn’t enough, though, so I’ll increase this goal for 2014.

Goals related to mind:

1. Read a book every other week. I gave up on trying to reach this goal recently, capping my book reading at 12 this year. The original goal was just too much given all my other goals and work schedule, so I’ll be more reasonable next year in this regard.

2. Blog every other day (at least). I should reach this goal by the end of the year, but being eight posts behind, I will have to blog more days than not this month to reach it.

3. Continue to follow My 3 Words: Ground, Stretch, Reflect. All is well here. If you don’t know what this refers to, read this post.

4. Double the blog’s readership from 10,000 views in 2012 to 20,000 – COMPLETE. This goal was passed in early October. It looks like we’ll finish the year with about 25,000 views, thanks to you, dear readers.

5. Continue to write hand-written letters to my sons. It’s time to figure out the subject of my next letter and plan on getting them to my boys by Christmas.

Goals related to spirit:

1. Finish reading the ESV Study Bible and read half of The Apologetics Study Bible. Having completed the ESV in September, I’m still in the early books in The Apologetics Study Bible. I won’t complete half of it by year end, but I’m fine with that. I’ll set a goal to finish all of it by the end of 2014.

2. Review 100 Bible memory verses weekly. I’m on track with this.

3. Come to some resolution regarding an unsettled situation where I worship – COMPLETE.

I’m eager to set my goals for 2014. I’ll post them here on January 1. They will not be as time-consuming overall as this year’s goals. I need to bake into my schedule next year more free time and more sleep time, so that will require less in the way of goals outside of work.

With only a few weeks left in 2013, that’s where I stand on my goals. What about you? How are you doing on your goals for the year? Are you thinking about goals you’ll want to set for 2014?