How to Set God-Centered Goals

We all know that setting goals and pursuing them fiercely is a key to being successful in life and in business. But sometimes it can be hard to see how to balance your own goals with the belief that God is in control and surrendering to his will … even when it’s different from ours. 

Here is my five step process that you can walk through in order to create goals that turn your purpose into a plan — while still remembering who is sovereign over it all.

Step 1: Reflect

Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations? --Proverbs 27:23-24 (ESV)

We can’t take anything for granted. It’s all grace. Every drop of it. And that’s why before we start thinking about a new goals, we need to reflect on what’s happened before. Because we don’t know where to start unless we know where we’re coming from. And that’s why we reflect. 

We need to know the condition of our flocks. What is working? What isn’t? Which attitudes and beliefs are serving us and which aren’t?

Looking back doesn’t have to be an exercise in mere evaluation. It can be an exercise in gratitude. And just as God prunes away the parts of us that aren’t serving him (John 15), we can prune our businesses (and lives for that matter) in the same way.

So take time reflecting on the last year or few months. Dig deep into the good and into the not quite so good to see where your efforts really paid off and what made you come alive so you can create new goals that focus on those things above all others.

Step 2: Create Your Vision

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained … --Proverbs 29:18a (ESV)

Vision is powerful. Without vision it can be hard to know where to go and why we’re going. And I know that makes it much harder for me to want to actually do something. I have a habit of not doing something when I think it’s silly or purposeless. I need to know that it’s going somewhere. And that’s why creating a vision can help to bring your year to life.

We can look at that word “unrestrained” and not want to live “restrained” lives. I get that. Sometimes structure boxes me in. But what if a little big of focus could drive your business forward even faster? That’s what we’re focusing on here. 

It’s about focus and direction … and dreams. So you should start by dreaming and creating the essence of what you really want and feel called to before we even start to streamline it into goals and strategies.

I like to focus on the “essence” of my vision by creating a vision board, but you can also simply reflect on how you want to feel as you think about the next year or quarter and some of the big and impossible feeling dreams that are brewing in you. 

Then create a board that captures how that feels, shares some of those words and feelings, and displays some of those dreams you’re almost too scared to admit and keep it in front of you every day.

Step 3: Set Milestones

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.” --Joshua 4:1-2 (ESV)

Often times we stop at setting the goals and we forget other things. Like setting milestones so we can celebrate, remember, or even recalibrate. When God helped the Israelites cross the Jordan, they put up stones. Abraham and Jacob also built altars in places where they wanted to remember what the Lord had done. 

I want you to do that too. Just in advance so you can praise Him before, during, and after each one. It’s time to take the vision you created and boil it down into main goals and the milestones along the way to get there. These will not only help you with being grateful and celebrating, but also to help you see how well things are going or how fast they’re progressing.

Step 4: Create an Action Plan

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, --Colossians 2:23 (ESV)

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. --Proverbs 14:23 (ESV)

Dreams and plans are awesome … but it’s not enough to leave them there in dream and plan world. You’ve gotta be committed to taking action to get them into reality. Just talking and dreaming keeps us stuck. Action creates clarity and momentum. And that’s what businesses are built on.

So that’s the next place to turn your focus — on those consistent actions that will help you take the right steps.

The key in business is consistent action in the right direction, but we don’t always write out those steps so we get overwhelmed, feel lost, or stop moving. I want you to get very clear on those steps to move your goals forward and how often you need to be doing them to make the biggest impact. 

List them out as a starting point, and don’t forget to actually start implementing them.

Step 5: Surrender

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. --James 4:14 (ESV)

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. --Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

The final step is all about surrender. Because here’s the truth: we don’t know what’s going to happen, what tomorrow holds, or if God will completely redirect us at some point this year.

So we are going to hold our plans loosely and our goals too. Because failure happens. A lot. Especially when you’re taking action. But one thing has to remain steady: our commitment. 

We can’t control everything, and like I mentioned before, failure is a natural part of the process. So in this last stage of setting goals, instead of focusing on the goal, the money, the plan, you should gonna focus on the commitments. What we can control in this process and what we will remain faithful to do even on a bad day.

Take time to offer up your goals to God and give him permission to disrupt your plans for his plan. Then write out your own commitment to showing up, being intentional, and taking action. Because in the end, that is the only thing we can control and that we’re ultimately responsible for.

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.