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Friday, February 28, 2014

From average to excellent

About 15 years ago, while I was still part of an institutional church, I assisted the high school youth group in chaperoning them to an Acquire the Fire conference in Tampa, FL.  The concluding speaker was Dr. Myles Munroe, who normally speaks on subjects concerning leadership, which is what he did that evening.

At the end of his speech, he gave seven points for achieving one's goals:
1.  Have a purpose.  Know God's call on your life--everyone has one.  If you don't know it, then, and only then, obedience is a sufficient substitute.  Almost all of God's will is in the Bible; what isn't is God's specific call.
2.  Have passion.  Not the world's definition--lust.  Going after that goal with everything that is in you.  99+% of the time, it is your deepest desire.
3. Know your potential in God (I can do all things in Christ, who strengthens me). I can do it with God's help, especially if you couldn't do it without God.
4.  Have a plan.  Even a bad plan is better than no plan.
Write it down.
a.  What I am accomplishing by next week.
b. What I am accomplishing by next month.
c.  What I am accomplishing in two months.
d. What I am accomplishing in six months.
e.  What I am accomplishing in 1 year.
f.  What I am accomplishing in 5 years.
5.  Get people to help.  Your friends show you your future. 
If they are lazy,         you will be lazy.
                  thugs,                        a thug.
                  amoral                       amoral.
                  druggies                    a druggie.
                 on fire for God            on fire for God.
6. Be persistent--there's no "can't" until you've done your best.
7. Pray earnestly.

At the time, I thought, great speech.  Over time, watching the teens, I only overtly saw one accomplishing his goals, and that was based on a) being really motivated towards his goal, and b) it being tied to going to a school where instructors fulfill the role of encouraging friends in point 5.  I would have forgotten it, had it not been for my habit of taking notes, and retyping them so I can actually read and understand them later.

Point 5 is a weak point.  I say this because it comes very close to a phrase circulating among radical feminists (of that time), "Pick a goal and surround yourself with people that will get you there." When that is said among that group, some things antogonistic to following Jesus are being thought of:  dump the husband, dump the kids, dump your relatives, dump heterosexuality, if that's what's getting in the way.  Of course, when unbelievers say such things, the guidance of the Holy Spirit isn't there, and they cannot be criticized on those grounds.  God is to judge, the Spirit is to convict, we are to love.  While I disagree with the radical feminist example, the phrase, when applied within the bounds of following Jesus morality, has some benefit.
How do you get someone to help?
How would you help someone if a person asked?
(Note: These previous two sentences are the truly stickiest parts of this whole presentation)
Stop a moment.  Write down one to three top personal goals you have.
Now, one reason for doing that is that some of us have goals which we have in the back of our minds, and, much less than not telling anyone about them, we haven't tried to describe the goal on paper.  That can sometimes tell oneself where the problem is--you are having difficulty describing it clearly to oneself.
Another problem comes if you have 2 or 3 written down.  Let us say your #1 goal has a due date of a year from now.  Goal #2, unrelated to it, has a due date of two months from now.  Goal #3, unrelated to #1 and #2, has a due date of two weeks.  Which goal do you work on immediately?  Is #1 really #1, or is it really #3?  This stuff can get tricky.

A basic way to achieve a goal is to make one that you know you can achieve.  I am going to use an acronym--SMART.

S will stand for specific.  What is a goal that is not specific?  I will grow spiritually.  How do you know that you achieved it? If we changed the goal to "I will read Chapter 1 of J.I. Packer's Knowing God, and will write out answers to the questions in the back of the chapter," although that is a very different sentence, I could infer that there is a good probability that, in doing so, one will have grown spiritually.

M will stand for measurable.  You have a goal, "I want to lose weight."  First, that isn't specific enough, but is measurable, in that anything less than one's current weight would be a loss.  "I want to lose three pounds in the next week" is measurable and specific.

A is attainable.  A goal of "I want my son to go to Yale" is not an attainable goal, for you, because it is not dependent upon yourself.  No matter how hard you try, if he doesn't try, it won't happen.  It is potentially attainable for your son.  A goal must be one that is within your power to achieve.

R is relevant.  Let us say your goal is losing 3 pounds.  A goal of getting a vial of moon dust and analysing it for green cheese content may be attainable if you are trained in certain scientific fields, but it is not relevant to your losing 3 pounds.

T is time specific.  The goal I just used in describing R, that is, losing 3 pounds, is not time specific.  You have forever to get there.  You need to achieve a goal and move to the next.  The goal I used to describe M, that is, "I want to lose 3 pounds in the next week" is time specific.

If a goal meets all five of those standards, it is a goal that you will know within a certain amount of time that you will achieve.  You can sense success with, or re-analyze to see why you missed, and continue with.  If you do this with another person who understands these principles and will ask you about whether you achieved your goal, your odds of achieving are enhanced just because you know someone else knows.

Now, some of us have goals that, for certain valid reasons, we cannot share with just anyone.  Therefore, we need someone who will keep ones successes and failures confidential.
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I just picked up this writing out of the notes I have taken over the years.  I have no idea how much of what I just wrote came from Dr. Munroe, and how much was my addition.  I will say that in the intervening time, I was involved in life coaching, and the SMART system is the basic method of life coaching.  From experience, depending on one's motivation, combined with the importance or triviality of the goals one sets for oneself, one can get "burned out" on a weekly diet of achieving small goals, depending on one's level of motivation.   

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