Figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You’ve all that the greatest of men have had,
Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes,
And a brain to use if you would be wise.
With this equipment they all began,
So start for the top and say “I can.”
Look them over, the wise and great,
They take their food from a common plate
And similar knives and forks they use,
With similar laces they tie their shoes,
The world considers them brave and smart.
But you’ve all they had when they made their start.
You can triumph and come to skill,
You can be great if only you will,
You’re well equipped for what fight you choose,
You have legs and arms and a brain to use,
And the man who has risen, great deeds to do
Began his life with no more than you.
You are the handicap you must face,
You are the one who must choose your place,
You must say where you want to go.
How much you will study the truth to know,
God has equipped you for life, But He
Lets you decide what you want to be.
Courage must come from the soul within,
The man must furnish the will to win,
So figure it out for yourself my lad,
You were born with all that the great have had,
With your equipment they all began.
Get hold of yourself, and say: “I can.”
– “Equipment” by Edgar Guest
Are you tired? Tired of making goals, only to fail time and time again at meeting them? Are you ready to finally say, “I can” to the goals in your life?
As the poet Edgar Guest has suggested, one won’t get very far in his plans unless he has a positive outlook and the will to persevere. It is indeed true that holding proper perspectives towards the goals we make will set us on the right track for success. Yet our mindset alone can not keep us on the right track. Many a man or woman has made a goal with the best of intentions, only to crash and burn after a time. How might one set a goal for themselves and ensure they will see it through to completion?
There are three vital steps that we too often forget to implement in the goal making process. If you wish to go from “I can” to “I will”, then let us look into three Guidelines For Goals…
When setting out to make a goal, the first thing you must do is face yourself.
“Do I have what it takes to see this particular goal through from start to finish?”
Many a goal was doomed from the start because the goal setter never bothered to ask themselves this question. Making goals is easy, but follow-through is tough! We may have lofty ambitions, but we can’t let desire outweigh reason. Jesus admonishes us to think before we act:
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, this man began to build, and was not able to finish. – Luke 14:28-30
- Maybe you want to lose weight. That’s a great goal, but can you follow through with the healthful diet plan and exercise regimen?
- Maybe you want to buy a new car. That’s a great goal, but can you give up some other luxuries so you can afford to make the monthly payments?
- Maybe you want to home educate your child. That’s a great goal, but are you willing to give up time and resources to meet your state’s requirements?
Now here’s the key: face yourself, don’t debase yourself.
When we face ourselves, the idea is not to beat ourselves up and feel like a failure if we realize we’re not cut out for the goal we have in mind. Some goals we have to give up before we even begin, and that’s okay! Knowing our own limitations and wisely putting our time and efforts in the right places is, in and of itself, a profitable thing.
A goal properly set is halfway reached. – Zig Ziglar
Know yourself so you set goals which are appropriate for your unique personality and complement your skill sets. Seek God’s will in prayer as you lay your tentative goals before Him and ask for clarity and direction. Ask trusted Christians for their advice and input. When you find that your goal is suitable for you, go for it! You are off to a promising start…
Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established. – Proverbs 15:22
#1 Guideline For Goals:
Always: Face Yourself.
Never: Debase Yourself.
Now that you’ve made your goal, the second step is to pace yourself.
There are two great enemies of goals: hurry and hesitation. Though opposites, both of these extremes are equally harmful. If we rush into our goals and push ourselves too hard, we will likely become discouraged at the burden and give up. On the other hand, if we procrastinate and only put in minimal effort from time to time, we will likely find our goal falling by the wayside…never to be picked up again. We all know the old adage, “slow and steady wins the race”, and this could not be more true in regards to goals. It’s important to find the balance between over-exertion and laziness. Keep moving at a steady pace, but don’t bite off more than you can chew.
The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Pacing oneself is a matter of a simple math problem. You choose a reasonable deadline, you add up the time from now to then, and you divide the required work into attainable segments. You can do it with a bit of simple planning and a hearty resolve!
Now here’s the key: pace yourself, don’t race yourself.
- Want to finish a 300 page book in a month? Easy peasy…you’ve got 30 days to get it done. Commit to read 10 pages a day and you’ll be sure to meet your goal.
- Want to up your daily water intake from four glasses to eight? Take a week to practice drinking five, then the next week drink six, then seven, then eight…it will be a habit before you know it!
- Want to send 15 cards out this week? Write out three a day starting Monday and you’ll be set to send them all out after Friday.
When you break your main goal up into bite-sized mini goals such as these, you will find it much easier to succeed overall.
Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings… – Proverbs 22:29a
A word of advice: Avoid making goals that are too vague. A goal must be specific and measurable if it is to be reached. For example…
Instead of saying “my goal is to read more of the Bible this month”, you might say, “I am going to read the book of Isaiah from start to finish in February”. More is hard to measure. Isaiah is not. A goal that can not be measured is only a desire. Make your desire a reality by exchanging it for a genuine goal!
A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, But a man of understanding draws it out. – Proverbs 20:5 (NASB)
#2 Guideline For Goals:
Always: Pace Yourself
Never: Race Yourself
Now that you have made your goal and a workable plan to follow, the final step is to embrace yourself.
There may come a time where the path to meeting your goal hits an obstacle. That obstacle may be from a circumstance outside your control, but many times that obstacle will in fact be YOU.
You intended to go sugar-free, but you caved when someone offered you a doughnut…you fell asleep before you finished that last chapter in your book…you forgot to drink the cup of water you had put off until evening. Whatever the case, you really botched up your goal; and now you’re wondering if a person like you is even capable of meeting a goal. After all, everything you try you fail at…maybe you should just give up. Stop, stop, stop! These lies you tell yourself are a foothold for the devil. I know, for I’ve told them to myself many a time. Satan adores preying on the pitiful and the self-deprecating. Don’t let that be you. Face your error like a man, and pick up right where you left off.
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again… – Proverbs 24:16a
So you messed up. What’s done is done, and you are now down to two choices. Admit total failure and denounce your goal (Satan’s delight) or get back on the proverbial bicycle and keep on pedaling (God’s delight). See, every goal, from the most seemingly insignificant (i.e. losing 5 pounds) to the most seemingly significant (becoming a missionary) has spiritual implications. The more loyal and determined you are at meeting your own goals, the more loyal and determined you will be for God’s.
Still, there are times where we must embrace ourselves in our own humanity. This does not mean loving failure. Rather, it means loving ourselves in spite of our failure – loving ourselves enough to say “I have failed, but I am not a failure. I don’t believe a word of Satan’s lies. I will persevere, for even the smallest goal ought to be performed wholeheartedly for the glory of my God”
Now here’s the key: embrace yourself, don’t disgrace yourself.
The Lord is in the corner of those who continue to turn to Him with a sincere heart. Notice that this is a twofold deal. He knows our plight, but still we must keep on keeping on.
Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name. Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. – Psalm 119:132-133
#3 Guideline For Goals:
Always: Embrace Yourself
Never: Disgrace Yourself
Do you have a goal in mind that you would like to achieve? Be sure to follow our three guidelines for goals for the best possible result.
Face Yourself. Pace Yourself. Embrace Yourself.
Remember not to Debase Yourself, Race Yourself, or Disgrace Yourself.
Above all, seek to honor God in the making and meeting of goals, for…
A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. – Proverbs 16:9
For God’s Glory,
Chelsea Bolks is a church of Christ minister’s wife, and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.