To thrive we must grow. We don’t need goals to grow. But we need goals to thrive. The problem is, we often end up with goals that are too big, and with too many of them.
My wife Tami and I planted fruit trees on our hobby farm. We want to harvest fresh, juicy peaches, apricots, apples, pears, cherries and plums. We want lots of fruit. We love fruit!
We’ve learned to get good fruit production we must prune branches. That means cutting off parts of the tree that are there to grow fruit! The first time I saw Tami do this (she’s the gardener), I thought she was cutting off too much.
A large tree, thick with branches doesn’t produce good fruit. If you look at a tree that’s been allowed to grow wild, without pruning, you’ll see this. The fruit is smaller than it should be and tastes bad.
Thriving Growth Depends on Purpose
Thriving depends on your determination to grow with purpose. To grow with purpose depends on pruning the stuff from your life so you can produce good fruit in the areas of your life that will make the greatest difference. In John 15:2, Jesus describes the Father as the master pruner for improved fruit production.
This is why my focus is on thriving in your faith, relationships and work. These are the areas of growth that will make the most positive difference in your life.
Growth in these areas will enable you to:
- Experience fulfilling love
Overcome fear with courage
Optimize your earning potential
Fulfill your God-given purpose
Reflect on your accomplishments over the past 12 months in the areas of faith, relationships and work. Where are the opportunities for you to produce better fruit?
- In your faith, do you want a more personal relationship with God? Do you, like me, want your faith to produce greater gratitude and generosity?
- What about your relationships? Do you want to have more patience with your spouse or children? Do you want a closer bond with people you care about? Do you need to forgive someone?
- Are you burning out on work? Does your job seem meaningless?
How to Set Goals You Can Achieve
If you’ve identified an opportunity in any of these areas, here’s the next step to help you focus your efforts to grow–and thrive–in your faith, relationships or work.
1. Pray for Divine direction and strength.
Here’s a great proverb:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
We can go out on our own wisdom and strength, but our success will be greater when we trust in God. We can all also benefit from dome Divine pruning to improve our fruit production.
2. Prune your goals.
Assess your current list of goals, if you have a list. If you don’t have a list, make one. Prune your list so that you have no more than 3 goals. Limit these goals to the areas of faith, relationships and work. You might have 3 goals in one area, none in the others. It’s likely that your goals may cross over all 3 areas.
The point is to limit your total to 3 goals.
2. Visualize your fruit.
Visualize what you want your faith, relationships, or work to look like when you’ve reached your goal. Get as much detail into your visualization as you can. Include a measurable outcome. It will help to write this stuff down. I use Evernote (affiliate link) because I can access it from all my devices, make checklists and set reminders.
Here’s how I imagined one of my goals. I want to be more generous over the next 12 months.
– I want my generosity to benefit people who need shelter, healing and clothing.
- I will give time, talent and treasure.
If I accomplish this goal, at the end of the next 12 months I will have increased my charitable giving by 25% over the previous 12 months.
3. Set micro-goals.
Now that your goal has been fleshed out into details, turn each detail into a task. Then rank these tasks in the order they need to be accomplished. In some situations the order won’t matter.
Here’s a list of rank-ordered tasks developed from my goal of increased generosity:
- Total last year’s giving in hours (time and talent) and dollars (treasure).
Determine total hours of volunteer work needed to achieve a 25% increase this next year.
Determine total dollars needed to increase giving of treasure 25% this next year.
Choose and schedule volunteer activities to meet my goal.
Budget for spending 25% more on charitable giving.
Choose charities that will receive contributions this next year and how much to give to each.
Enter tasks and dates for giving to each charity in Wunderlist.
4. Choose 2 micro-goals to work on at a time.
Once your goal is broken down into micro-goals the list can seem overwhelming. Choose 2 micro-goals to work on at a time. When you’ve achieved those, choose the next 2, and so on.
[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=””]For more on setting micro-goals, get the book Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently, by Caroline L. Arnold (affiliate link).[/thrive_text_block]
5. Check and plan your growth.
Use your favorite task management app to remind you to check your micro-goal progress weekly, and plan your next actions. Sunday or Monday mornings are usually a good time for this.
6. Tell someone your goals.
Share your 3 goals with someone who you can count on to encourage you. This will help to motivate you. Telling our goals to someone who will cheer us is correlated to our follow through.
7. Set new goals.
When you’ve achieved your 3 goals, set new goals. Your new goals may be to further your progress in the same areas or new opportunities to cultivate your growth in faith, relationships and work.
What’s one goal you have for your faith, relationships or work this next year? Please share with a comment below.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT), copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.