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How to Set and Achieve Personal Goals

Robert Carnes
Robert Carnes Thursday December 29, 2016
<? echo $type; ?> How to Set and Achieve Personal Goals

Why do you do what you do? You no doubt busy yourself with tasks and responsibilities, but does all of this work add up to a larger purpose? Are you able to accomplish your goals?

Every church needs goals. Every ministry within the church needs goals. And every individual pastor, staff member and volunteer within the church needs goals. Goals give us something larger to work toward and a motivation for continuing to work.

That being said, goals don’t happen by accident. They are established and accomplished with purpose and intentionality. Setting clearer goals can even help with achieving them.


Any discussion about goals will, and should, invariably include the acronym SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Thankfully, the concept of SMART goals is relatively self-explanatory. But it’s still worth remembering the acronym when establishing goals. Consider each of these five elements when setting any goal—whether organizational or personal.

Each of these elements helps to increase the likelihood of actually reaching your goal. How can you hope to reach your goal if it isn’t achievable? How can you expect to know when you’ve reached a goal that isn’t measurable? And why would you want to meet a goal that isn’t relevant?

Start with the Big Picture

Begin with a large, overarching objective and then work backward from there to create smaller goals. Start by answering the question of why you’re working and then reverse engineer goals that fit within this purpose.

Thinking this way helps to ensure that each of these levels work in alignment toward fulfilling the big picture goal. It also breaks a larger goal down into more manageable pieces that fit together to form something meaningful.

Trying to begin from individual tasks inevitably leads to plenty of wasted resources and dead-end projects. Any individual goals that don’t fit within the larger goals probably aren’t worth the time to execute.

Stay Focused

Setting goals is relatively easy compared with fulfilling goals. That’s why gyms are full in January and abandoned by March. Most people actively think about goals most at the beginning and end of each year. But the 365 days in between is when goals are actually met or not.

Stay constantly focused on your goals to make sure you follow through. To do this, you’ll have to find what works for you. Print out your goals and post them around your office to keep them top of mind. Set reminders within your calendar to make sure you’re on track.

Overall, remember why you have goals in the first place. That tends to help you keep them top of mind and remain motivated to finish what you started. The closer these goals are to fulfilling the mission of the church, the easier they should be to focus on.

Hold Each Other Accountable

Even with efforts to stay focused, it’s all too easy to get pulled off course or distracted by the daily grind. Which is why it’s important for you and your colleagues to keep each other accountable.

Communicate your goals clearly at the beginning of each year. Collectively compile everyone’s individual and team goals into a single, visible, accessible place. Get acquainted with what others are working on. Meet monthly or quarterly to check everyone’s progress.

This isn’t to create a sense of competition. Rather, holding each other accountable should be done in the spirit of working toward a larger goal and acknowledging the importance of everyone’s role in that effort.

Celebrate each other’s victories and help those who are falling behind. Remember that organizational goals cannot be reached without individuals’ goals working in unison.

Track Your Progress

Even the right goals can look daunting from the beginning. Even accomplishing your goals can get lost in the shuffle if you aren’t careful. Both of these realities explain the importance of tracking the progress of your goals regularly throughout the year.

Break all goals down into easier to accomplish action steps. Checking off some of these smaller sub-tasks will help to show your progress toward the larger objective and build momentum.

This also helps to show what you actually got done after the dust has settled at the end of the year. A list of smaller achievements shows what you got done during the year and what exactly they were building toward. And it helps prove to yourself why you do what you do.

Robert Carnes is the Church Engagement Director for Orange Leaders. He's the author of The Original Storyteller, a devotional for leaders who want to become better storytellers. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and daughter.