As January’s days wane, so does the shiny newness of our New Year’s goals. Left with us in these cold, dull days are feelings that we haven’t made much progress. As we close our month long series on goals, let’s take a look at where we’ve been and how we can follow through and finish well.
Here and on the MemoryMinders blog, we set goals, ideally with the hope of Jesus’ as our guide. We understand the importance of organization and finding strength in Jesus when tempted to fall. We practice visualization to see our goals into reality and appreciate the importance of obedience. We also realize large goals require many steps just as carrying away small stones can move a big mountain. As we finalize our goal discussion, it’s important to discuss how to stay on course. It all comes down to motivation and discipline.
Any goal is precipitated by motivation of some kind. If my clothes fit more snugly after the holidays, it motivates me to eat healthier and exercise more. If I’m more forgetful with day to day tasks, it motivates me to takes steps to improve my memory. If I want to have a stronger faith, I’m motivated to spend more time in my Bible, prayer and worship. But motivation can only take us so far.
To reach the finish line and keep momentum going we need discipline. Last week, I shared about obedience, its importance and relevance. If obedience is the first step towards achieving our goals, discipline is the next.
Discipline is more difficult and ongoing. It takes motivation, obedience, effort and follow through. Once we find our motivation, we create goals. We then walk in obedience in the efforts to achieve those goals. But often follow through is the most taxing. The repeated focus and repeated diligence necessary for adequate follow through can kill any good motivation or goal. So how do we follow through, how can we finish well? By asking two questions.
1. Is my motivation still present?
Maybe the motivation is no longer there. It’s hard to follow through on something no longer motivating. Maybe the motivation has shifted or become less of a priority, causing our follow through to fizzle. Possibly the motivating idea or goal is too big and seems daunting. Making smaller goals to achieve success along the way may help maintain motivation.
2. What one thing can I do today to be more disciplined towards my goal?
One of my goals is being more organized. I can be disciplined to make a realistic to do list each evening to jump start the next morning. Another goal is to exercise more consistently. I can be disciplined about carving out 30 minutes each morning, knowing if I wait, it may not happen.
Following through with discipline towards our goals takes discipline. But if the motivation remains intact, let’s remain diligent with our discipline, even if it’s something very small. The confidence we build with each completed step leads to continued steady progress.
Whenever we feel less than motivated to follow through on goals, repeat the two steps above to see progress. It may be small and it may be slow but as a famous turtle once reminded us, slow and steady wins the race.
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. ~Hebrews 12:11