In 1960, President J.F. Kennedy of the United States called together scientists, head of airlines and engineers and gave them an assignment; land an American on the moon in the next ten years. Nobody had done it before. How they would do it nobody knew. All they had was a goal and a promise of all they would need. They beat their target by one year and landed someone in the moon by 1969.
Dare to set a goal; how to achieve it is not the problem. The way God designed life is for you to decide what you want. Many people do not set goals because they do not know how they are going to get provision. But that is not the way it works. The style is to decide what you want and then God will supply the ‘how’ to get it.
I want us to go into practical dimensions of planning.
The major part to planning is to write it down. We must cultivate the habit of writing. When we pray, meditate and plan, a biro and writing material are compulsory. At this time, ideas will flow but if they are not written down they fly. We use the biro and writing material to capture, put them down and turn them into reality in our lives. We must cultivate the writing habit. It is too crucial and important. The shortest pencil is better than the longest memory.
3 Things Planning Helps Us Do.
- Planning helps us define our direction. There are always so many options opened but when you sit down to plan, you are able to define accurately where you want to go.
- Planning increases our personal efficiency by cultivating principles and habits that move us towards greatness on a daily basis. It helps us identify our strengths and weakness. When we sit down to analyze how far we have come, suddenly we realize there are some things that have worked. In planning, I have realized that one needs to deal with one’s weakness. I am an idealist. I always plan on ideal circumstances and the ideal circumstances are usually not realistic.
- Planning helps us build self-confidence. When we begin to achieve our goals, it envelops our self-image and self-esteem. This gives us the confidence to confront bigger issues; it moves us forward. One other characteristic of planning is that it is continuous. When we make plans, we need to ensure they are flexible. It is not like a neurotic surgeon that the plan must be fulfilled to the letter.
Benefits of Goals.
1) Goals improve our self-image because we have a sense of accomplishment on a daily basis. Every day I write the things I want to accomplish during the day. I mark them as the day goes by. It gives me tremendous fulfillment to know that I have spent my time on something worthwhile during the day. By the time one adds much accomplishment on a daily basis for 365 days, one would have made tremendous progress in life.
2) Goals make one aware of one’s strength.
3) Goals make one aware of one’s weakness.
4) Past victories motivate for present success.
5) Written goals help to visualize and actualize success. That is the best way to recapture it. It is the first step towards actualizing our dream.
6) Goals force us to set priorities. Usually, the thing one wants to accomplish is more than time will permit, so we have to prioritize. Some of us spend time on things that we think are urgent but are not important. They do not give us any serious movement in life. We usually spend our time on such things but when we sit to plan we identify the things that are most crucial to our success in life.
7) Goals make us responsible for our own success. The starting point for success is taking personal responsibility.
8) Goals serve as a criteria for decision-making. When you have to make a decision, usually what makes it easy for you to make a decision are policies and standards that you have set for yourself before-hand. For example, if you have a personal policy of no personal overdraft from the bank, when you need money, you will consider other means of getting the money but an overdraft from the bank will not be an option.
Before one sets goals, one needs to write down personal affirmations.
I call mine – My Success Creed. In this, I wrote down everything I want to become in life. It is placed next to my bed; I see it every day. It encompasses every area of my life. It is important that you write it and read it to yourself every day. When you write your personal affirmation, do not write it in future tense. Do not say, “I will become,” say, “I am.” A number of questions will help you in writing your personal affirmation statements and they are:
a) How can I achieve peace of mind?
b) What sort of work will I do?
c) How much do I want to earn?
d) What will I do for pleasure?
e) What kind of vacation do I want to go for?
f) What quality of knowledge do I want to acquire?
After writing your personal affirmation, it is important to analyse where you are right now, because it is difficult to accurately decide where you are going if you cannot analyse where you are. For me, a normal routine is what I call personal realization project which I carry out once in 6 months. There I write in a dairy, ‘Where I am coming from’, ‘Where I am now’, ‘Where I am going.’ A number of questions will help to determine the answers to these questions and they are:
a) Is my present situation satisfactory or unsatisfactory?
b) What makes my present situation unsatisfactory or satisfactory?
c) How can I change my present situation?
d) Do I live a balanced life?
e) Am I straightforward and honest with myself?
Dimensions To Goals.
1) Short Range Goals: include daily, weekly, and yearly goals.
2) Medium Range Goals: five-year goals.
3) Long Range Goals: ten years and above.
Five Goal Areas
The goal should cover five areas of our lives. We should set
I. Spiritual Goals: Where can you go to receive spiritual growth? If you do not have goals concerning your spiritual life, you can go to any bible-based church. Where can I go to engage in spiritually stimulating activities? Which unit should I join? Is your spiritual life balanced? Is your family included in your spiritual plans? Do you read and study the bible? Have you planned your quite time? How long do you want to spend praying? How can you make a spiritual contribution of lasting value? In one year’s time where will you be in your church? How are you going to help others?
II. Social Goals: How many phone calls or text messages will you send to friends and family members? Will you visit? Do you write letters? Do you attend ceremonies of people who are crucial to you? Do you remember people’s birthday? Do you send birthday cards? Do you send wedding gifts?
III. Financial Goals: How much money do you want to earn per year? How much money are you going to save? How much are you going to give to worthwhile causes? When do you want to retire? How much income do you want to get when you retire? What kind of work do you want to do for the rest of your life? Do you abuse the use of overdraft facilities? Do you have a realist budget for your family? What will be your net worth five years from now? Do you possess financial balance or is your account always not balanced?
IV. Recreational Goals: Do you have a personal fitness program? Do you enjoy personal recreation? Do you plan time for family recreation? Do you take vacations? Do you do things that create mental relaxation? Do you have regular schedules and medical checkups? Do you really want to be physically and mentally fit? Are you living a recreationally balanced life?
V. Educational goals: Are you setting goals for your children? Will you quit reading literary junk? When will you stop reading things that do not contribute to your destiny? Do you have a daily time for study? Are you going to achieve great wisdom? Do you know all there is to know about your work? Will you share your knowledge with others? Can you force yourself to become a student? Do you possess educational balance in your life?
What you will find out is that as you write all this goals down, you change even on paper before you stand up to do anything. You experience a powerful internal change and this will provoke a powerful external change in your life.
I have found out that planning is building character in me. Goal setting builds your character. Most people are fantastic dreamers but are not realistic. “I wish I have one million naira.” But how do you get that money? It is when you sit down that you find out that you can only get N250,000. So leave the one million alone and plan with the N250,000. This is character and being sincere and honest with yourself. As you are changing inside, life will be changing towards you.