Freedom Friday: Are Goals Necessary?

Happy Freedom Friday to all my readers!

I was asked yesterday when I began Freedom Friday. October 29, 2010: What is Freedom, Part 1. We’ve been seeking God and learning to walk in freedom together for over 15 months now!

Freedom Friday is a toddler. Aw 🙂

I’m going to be doing a series of posts to encourage you as you pursue your priorities and goals based on your focus roles for 2012. Today, we’ll be examining whether or not goals are really necessary in the journey toward freedom.

This may seem like an odd question after last week’s post. Here’s why I started pondering this question.

I read something yesterday that was very anti-setting goals called How to Have the Best Year of Your Life (without Setting a Single Goal). The author implies that setting goals is setting yourself up to fail. In fact, he goes so far as to say “Resolutions are pipe dreams, and goals are a waste of time.”

In some ways, I agree.

As I mentioned previously, I have been setting goals for years. Years. Many of them had to do with time management, weight management, health, fitness, and Bible reading. Most years, I didn’t even accomplish half of those goals.

I had to ask myself why? What has been the difference in those years when I did accomplish my goals?

One thing I could agree on with the article was that goals really need to be about developing new disciplines. If the goal alone is what is motivating you, then you may be setting yourself up to fail.

Saying, “I want to lose 50 lbs” is likely not good enough. Why? Why do you want to lose weight? And what disciplines are you planning on developing to accomplish that goal? If this is a recurring goal in your life, what have you done in the past that has worked and what hasn’t worked?

I started running seriously because I lost a significant amount of weight and wanted to keep it off. This was only motivating for a short time. I continued running because I wanted to see how far I could go and how hard I could push myself. I now run not only for the physical exercise, but for the mental clarity I gain while running.

One of my goals for 2012 is to run through the winter (something I’ve never done), even when it’s wicked cold. I hit one level of that goal this week, when it was 8 degrees, feels like -7. I ran 8 miles.


Notice the frost covering my whole head and the icicles on my eyelashes.

Keeping the weight off is not enough of a motivator to drag myself out of bed at 5 AM and run 8 miles in the freezing cold. I do it because I’m headed toward a goal, the goal being not only to train myself to run in the wicked cold, but also to shave 30 seconds off my half-marathon pace.

I frequently discuss having SMART goals. Creating SMART goals gives you a destination to reach and a way to measure whether or not you’ve reached it.

The ironic thing is that many of my goals & priorities this year are not SMART. The ones related to running that I shared here are, but many of the rest (which I will share in a future post) are not. They are not measurable. They cannot be timed. And they really aren’t very specific. Rather, they are focused on making some small adjustments in the way I live and how I spend my time that I hope will have a great impact in refining some areas of my life.

This is where I can agree with the article above about creating new disciplines.

A 2012 goal is to read and complete 25 books. This is a means to an end. The end is not being able to say “I read 25 books”; the end is that I want to spend less time on my computer and my iPhone. I also have a pile of half-finished books I want to complete, as well as a mammoth stack of books I’ve gotten off of Paperback Swap (fantastic resource, by the way!) that I genuinely want to read but have not made the time for.

These two factors together, I have books I want to read and I want to limit my internet time, are both motivators to read those books and create a new discipline of reading regularly, something I’ve struggled with since having kids.

So, are goals necessary? Maybe not for everyone. I like to have priorities to focus on with a few specific goals mixed in. I can’t completely agree that goals are a waste of time, but I can absolutely agree that one way to shape your goals and choose them is by focusing on who you want to become. Creating good, sustainable habits as well as shaping new disciplines that you enjoy is a step in this direction.

On that note, here is a blog post about six keys to achieving big goals from one of my favorite bloggers, Michael Hyatt (I’ve mentioned him before). And here’s a post of his on How To Make New Year’s Resolutions Stick which discusses the importance of having SMART goals.

And a close-up of the partially defrosted eyelashes after they had been inside for a few minutes:

2 thoughts on “Freedom Friday: Are Goals Necessary?

  1. Great links! I constantly find myself feeling “scattered” and though I have pretty good general focus on what I WANT to achieve, and the creativity and ability to DO it, it seems to never get done. I feel like goals are absolutely necessary for me, so that I actually DO the things that I want to do professionally, creatively, for the home, for my kids, etc. I’m going to bookmark some of those links that you provided! Thanks!

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