Do NOT Set Goals for Yourself This Year!

I know, I know. This doesn’t sound like me at all, but hear me out.

I just finished reading a fascinating book by Charles Duhigg entitled “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.” In it, Duhigg studies the science of behavior, focusing particularly on habits. In essence, our entire lives can be summed up by our habits, those things we do incessantly, day in and day out. From brushing our teeth, to the places we shop to the way we eat, sleep, work and play, our habits define us. Good habits, done over a long period of time, have incredible results. Bad habits, even little ones, done over a long period of time can destroy us.

The key to changing your life is to change your habits, but this is easier said than done.

In the book, researchers studied people who underwent radical and enduring lifestyle changes and found that the secret nearly always boiled down to what is known as a single keystone habit.

A keystone habit is a single habit which, when implemented, has a ripple effect on a dozen other areas of life. In other words, we change the MOST when we focus on changing the least. The key is changing that ONE habit that will then ripple out to so many other areas of your life.

So, at the risk of sounding anti-change, may I humbly suggest that you not set goalS for yourself this year. Just focus on ONE goal, that when accomplished, will have the greatest impact on your life.

So where do you start?

I’ve discovered that there are five habits that most affect the Christian life:

1. Attending church and small group weekly.

2. Spending time with God in His Word and prayer daily.

3. Serving in a weekly ministry.

4. Giving back to God at least 10% of my income.

5. Sharing Christ with others by inviting them to church, talking about my faith, and going on mission trips.

Today, these five habits are so deeply ingrained in my lifestyle that they come as second nature. They have shaped who I am and what God has done in my life.

However, they took time to become habits. Years.

So, let me suggest that you first focus all of your energies on number one until it is ingrained in your lifestyle, then move on to #2, then #3 and so on.

If you will do this, then in about 3 or 4 years your ENTIRE LIFE will be radically changed to the glory of God.

Or, you could just set 5-10 goals that you’ll break before February.

May this be the year of real and lasting change in your life!


  • Scott Creager
    Posted at 17:24h, 03 January Reply

    So true. We get caught up in making to-do lists, check lists, life development plans and such, and then we are not careful to stay focus on the goal. As Christians, our goal to be more like Jesus, so thus we make a list, attend church, read my Bible, etc. but here’s the trap, we start checking off not the goal but the tasks. Don’t get me wrong, I use lists all the time. Daily, weekly, and yearly lists, and check them off as a means of organization to achieve more, but the goal is not make a list and check it off. The goal is to make it a habit so much that it doesn’t end up on the list. Example: Say I wanted to tackle #4 and give back 10% of my income. I wouldn’t simply put that on a list or plan and then check off when completed. I must put on a list, things that will make it habitual and thus achieve the goal. Sanctification does not come from checking boxes and crossing off lists. It’s when your lists become habits.

    • Brian Moss
      Posted at 18:38h, 03 January Reply

      Well said bro!

      • Colleen Gifford
        Posted at 01:41h, 09 January Reply

        In other words, start living like we believe in Our Father, not just saying it! 🙂

  • Robert Bannister
    Posted at 14:50h, 08 January Reply

    For those needing health changes, this is even more applicable. To become a person who exercises and eats right, it has to become part of who you are. You have to change how you think. It took me all of last year to change this process, but it finally became a reality. In our spiritual walk with Christ(which is more so physical)we do the same thing. To form habits desired, we have to keep on doing the action even when we don’t feel like it. As I continued to go to the gym, even on the days I was not up to it, it created a new mindset. I began to see that I could do it even on my lowest of days. It created fortitude. As we begin this type of movement in one area, as Pastor Moss put it, we then are more easily able to make the changes in other areas of life. Have trouble? Ask the Spirit, he is good at reminding you and pushing you toward that goal.

  • lois collins
    Posted at 17:30h, 08 January Reply

    Although I agree with the basic premise, action steps (smaller “do-ables”) are important to help you achieve the one main goal. Too many goals can really cloud your direction, cause quick failure, and result in frustration. Steps towards one goal can be more easily achieve. In organizations, mission statements should be succinct rather than elaborate.

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