by Joy Bowen
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
Remember back in January how we discussed setting goals for the New Year? You were excited, ambitious, specific . . . you were full of hope that this year would be amazing.
So, how are you doing? We have 60 days left in this year before we go through the process again. I don’t know about you but typically this time of year is when I am tempted to throw in the towel, enjoy the approaching holiday season and just start over in the New Year. Some of those BHAG goals I created in January seem near to impossible to achieve in the next two months so it’s tempting to think, “Why bother??”
Listen, if you’ve been taking action and working on your goals this year, you should be very proud of yourself! Getting started on creating change is hard work. It forces you to get those creative problem solving juices flowing and super charges your work. Trying new things helps us feel passionate about the work we do.
Don’t let the fact that you are running out of calendar days set you up to self-sabotage the great work you have left to do. Instead, focus on these four tips to help you finish strong and even get ahead moving into the next New Year.
Stop obsessing about “The Goal.”
I know. Crazy talk, right? We’re talking about reaching the goals you set and I’m telling to you stop focusing on the end goal. Here’s the thing, focusing on a goal can sometimes make us feel like we are blowing out candles on birthday cake and making a wish in the process. It’s not the goal that will change your ministry or develop your team. It’s the process by which you need to get to the goal.
Take a moment to evaluate your actionable steps taken up to this point. Are you doing the right kind of activity to get you moving forward? What are those vital behaviors that will help you finish strong? Write them down.
Do something every day.
The problem we sometimes run into is that we set goals but then do not have an adequate system that gets us there. It’s an interesting thought, right? Imagine a basketball coach wanting to win the championships. If that was the sole focus of the coach, but he only had the team show up to practice occasionally, he’s probably not going to reach that ultimate victory. However, if the same coach were to focus on consistent practices to develop skills instead of dream about the elusive trophy, he would be more apt to actually win the prize. It’s no different for a goal we create.
You can’t just wish for it, you have to show up every day and work for it. Now that you know the right kind of activity you need to do, it’s time to be laser-focused on consistency. If you focus on the process . . . those small daily tasks required for the end goal, now your building momentum in ministry. Momentum is exactly what you need to reach that goal or even surpass it.
Let go of perfectionism.
Sometimes goals can make us feel pretty crummy. If we feel there is no way to reach the goal by a specific timeline, it’s tempting to just stop trying. If we are not careful, we create a false reality that makes us feel we are not “good enough” if we don’t attain the ultimate prize.
Goal setting is not an exact science. It’s a target to aim for. The best part about goals is that it forces you to work strategically to reach them. But if for some reason you don’t cross that virtual finish line with your arms in the air, you reset the goal! You don’t ditch it altogether. If you feel like you’ve wasted too much of the year or haven’t done the right things, guess what? Today is a new day to move forward.
Your work will never be perfect. Fail forward. Learn from yesterday and do what you need to do today.
It’s about this time in the year where fear takes over. Fear gets far to much airplay these days but let’s address the big imaginary bear in the room that is never going to “get you.” Fear is a record you play in your head over and over again. The “what if I don’t reach my goal?” loop you are playing has the potential to trick your mind into thinking you cannot change. It would be a ridiculous statement to say you are failure if you don’t reach the goal by the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Yet when we give up on reaching for the goal, that’s often how we feel.
Instead of focusing on the fear of failure, focus on the curiosity of what will happen if you show up daily and do the right kind of actionable steps. Where will that take your ministry? What new leaders will come alongside you? How close can you get to the initial goals? How amazing will it feel to finish the year strong?
Curiosity and fear cannot coexist in the same space—they cancel each other out. So flex that curiosity muscle and allow it to move you forward in these last few months of the year.
Bottom line: Finish strong. It doesn’t matter if you miss the goal. What matters is that you didn’t give up.