The end of the year is upon us and with its coming many people will conjure resolutions that will not actually make any difference in their life. Gym memberships will swell throughout the month of February. Book lists will be conjured. Mythical numbers will be set for savings accounts. And at the end of the day most of those resolutions will make zero difference in the lives of those making them. And yet…. I want to convince you that you should set goals for 2012. Actually, I think you should set goals more regularly than every twelve months. I think you should set them nearly every week. I think you should set goals for the year, and then break them down. Conversely, almost everyone will benefit from setting goals for the long distance future as well. Too often we approach life as though we are taking a trip and we do not care where we end up when the exact opposite is true. Our life is short. It is often pressure packed and has competing “urgencies” demanding our time. Goals help us get where we want to go. The following five reasons explain why I think goals are helpful.     

Goals give us directions. Knowing where we want to give helps us to minimize the possibility of getting someplace and realizing that is not the place we wanted to go. Having direction can give us hope when the night is dark.

Goals help us to know when to say, “No.” Having goals gives us a filter for the different things that demand our time. Sometimes, there are good things that keep us from doing the really great things that give us life. When we have goals, it allows us to look at where something might take us and say no.         

Goals help us to be able to say, “Yes” to the things that matter more to us. There are good things that simply do not move me. Having goals allows me to say no to those and yet be able to say yes to other things that do move me. It creates the filter through which I can funnel my activities. We all have more time demands than we actually have time in the day.         

Goals help us make course directions. When our goals are measurable (and they all should be) we can examine the path that we are on and make course corrections when our current actions are taking us away from our desired goal. So many times, I meet people who tell me that their life doesn’t make sense or it seems unfulfilling and I ask them what their goals are for their life and they have no idea. How do we know what changes to make if we don’t know where we want to go? How do we know what will bring us meaning?         

Goals help light the way when the path is dark. We all have low moments. We all have times when things seem to be too dark to continue. We stumble our way forward. Goals offer light in these opportunities. Goals help us see the way when there is little or no light to see by.

Goals are helpful in many ways. This list is not exhaustive. How have you found goals to be helpful? What benefits have you discovered from setting goals? Are you going to be setting goals for 2012? If so, what will they be?

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