I kept thinking about this little series on “Becoming” over the holiday weekend, and I had an uneasy feeling. (I also felt uneasy about the fact that I had internet issues and could not finish this post to publish it. I didn't have the wherewithal to use my phone to write a new post. Sorry about the wait. #firstworldprobs, right?)
Anyway, that first uneasy feeling came from the thought that I may have communicated an erroneous idea that becoming the person you want to be means achieving things. And while achievements may be a by-product of a mental shift, they are in no way the only measuring stick of personal success. I know of many great achievers who aren’t anything like the type of person I want to be. For example, just because you can run a marathon does not automatically mean that you are a kind and generous person. I’d rather be kind and generous than be a marathoner, even though I might admire the achievement.
It’s funny how easy it is to confuse “doing” with “being.” And I hope I didn’t leap straight to goal setting in a way that made it seem like that’s what it’s all about.
To clarify, I think that setting goals is an important means to an end: it helps you develop discipline and character in the process.
And it puts you in a position to make a difference in this world, because you are actively engaged in learning and growing. It gives you confidence to step out and try new things, just like these murals, below.
Just for fun: These photos are from one of my favorite child's room murals I did a few years ago. I love that it reminds me of how far I came from the first projects I tried. When I see this, I don't see "achievement," I see the years of discipline it took to learn how to paint. I see how small steps, taken time after time, made me feel confident enough to paint horses - something I'd never done before.
Even the chicken was fun to paint.
So when I talk about setting small personal goals, I think I'm already assuming a couple of things about you:
1. That you struggle, as I do, with at least one area of discipline.
Please note that your struggle does not make you less worthy, less desirable, less valuable or less important than those who are "natural" achievers. It makes you human, vulnerable and empathic.
2. That you are kind, loving and spiritually seeking.
Your goals are positive, life affirming and spiritual in the sense that they are based on good values.
Examples: a goal of being a better friend by extending an invitation to coffee once a month is based on a values of love and kindness. A goal of preparing for a promotion at work is based on the value of providing for your family.
My prayer in recent days has been, "God, help me to be the kind of person You want me to be. Help me be a reflection of Your love and grace in all things." I think that is a good starting place for all of us, especially as we think about setting goals. And yes, I think that walking 30 minutes, 3 days a week, is something that reflects His grace and goodness.
Ultimately, I believe that becoming that best version of yourself is by His power and for His glory. Our faith has never been about simply doing the right things - Jesus had a lot to say about those who looked perfect on the outside - but it's about being right on the inside.
Questions of the Day: Do you mistake achievement for character? When you set goals, do you think about the process of being the type of person who can reach them? We've been talking about setting small, achievable goals...how do they reflect the kind of character you want to develop in the process?