We are two weeks into the New Year and I thought I’d ask you: how are those New Year’s resolutions going? Maybe that’s an unfair question. While most of us have dreams and desires for the future, we find it hard to stick with goals and resolutions. Researchers at the University of Scranton say that only about 8% of people achieve the goals they set for the New Year. Maybe that’s because most of us don’t really like setting goals.
While in seminary, I heard a talk entitled “Stop setting goals.” At the time, I was struggling with goals, setting them and achieving them. In fact, I was often stressed out over making sure I had the right goals and how I was working on them. I felt that without a list of goals to work on, my life might not be very successful.
The speaker’s point was that some people love setting goals while other people would rather solve problems. It turns out that not everyone gets all excited about working towards goals. Many people are too busy dealing with a whole host of problems but they are making progress anyway. So his advice was this: stop setting goals and start solving problems.
In team sports, there are people that play offence and people that play defence. Those on offence want to get as many goals as possible by scoring on their opponents. They are motivated to get the ball in the net. Those on defense need a plan to prevent as many shots as possible getting into the net. While the outcomes may be the same, it’s often a matter of reframing the issue.
Some people love setting goals and reaching them. Others love to work on defining problems and solving them. The research shows that both types of people are equally successful. Both types of individuals want to enjoy life and make progress in different areas. However, if your energy levels drop by a hundred points when asked to set goals, you might be a problem-solver. Reframing the issue may help give the motivation you need.
Whether you prefer to set a goal or solve a problem, the Bible encourages us to submit everything to God:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I set a goal of joining a gym and going three times a week this year. I’m hoping it helps me with this problem of a few extra pounds I have been carrying around.