An important part of being human is growth in all areas of life. This is why people often feel that something is wrong when an area of their life has become stagnant, even if they are seemingly okay in the other areas.
Such growth, however, should not be haphazard; it should be intentional to ensure balanced improvement. Hence, there is a general need for people to plan how they will live their life with the help of clear personal development goals. Fortunately, this can be done by considering three important aspects.
Three Aspects of Personal Development Goals
Aspect 1: Goals Need a Purpose
A personal development goal must have a clear intent so that it may be seen through. A person, for example, does not diet for the sake of dieting. If they do, eventually the person will tire of the effort and revert again to bad eating habits. But if the diet is meant for good health so that the person may continue working hard for the family, then the goal is more sustainable.
Unfortunately, the usual situation is for a person’s goals to be focused on just one or two areas of life, such as one’s career and love life, causing the other areas (e.g. family, social circle) suffer. For goals to be truly effective, so that they tie into everything that a person does, every goal should be guided by the person’s higher purpose in life. When this is done, there is better growth physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.
The question now is: What exactly is one’s purpose in life?
Discovering One’s Purpose Within God’s Plan
Something that many forget is that we are here to glorify God. In Romans 12:1, the apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” And in 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul reminds those in Corinth, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
If one believes in God with all their heart, then it is clear that one’s purpose starts with glorifying Him in all that they do. Prayer is then a necessary starting point to discover this purpose. God needs to be invited into one’s heart to enlighten them about their role in His Kingdom. This, of course, can seem quite scary to a new believer as what God may reveal may seem contrary to what the world recommends; but one should remember that if God is with them, then definitely they are on the right path.
It should be noted though that this overall purpose might not be revealed right away. Many times people seemingly undergo a process of trial and error before His plan for them becomes clear; yet, there is always a reason for this process as all things happen in God’s time. So one should just keep praying and trying different things, not minding the speed of success of those around them.
However, once this purpose is revealed, its effect on one’s life will be very clear and will most probably affect almost all areas of one’s life.
Aspect 2: Goals Provide Direction
The next aspect of an effective personal development goal is that it provides direction. If not, then the individual will really feel like they are just wasting their time. Sadly, many people find themselves in dead-end jobs or hanging out with the wrong crowd because their goals had no direction.
When developing such goals it is important to consider the long-term and short-term goals, and the details. First, the long-term goals should be established: Where does one wish to be? When should this happen? After this, the short-term goals need to be considered: What needs to be done to achieve these targets? What are the different options available?
For instance, if one’s purpose is to serve God by doing well in the information technology (IT) world by providing good services to others, the person should consider what programming languages to master, where to study, and when to start. If the purpose is to protect the environment, thoughts on what to focus on, where to work, and who to connect with for help should be considered.
Something to remember is that if your life purpose is rooted in honoring God, then one should start thinking big as we have a big God. The plan should first be mapped out assuming that there are no road blocks to the goal so it is easier to see the entire path. Then later on the obstacles can be dealt with by coming up with alternatives and contingencies. If not done this way, one may lose heart just thinking about all the possible problems, and never begin.
Aspect 3: Goals Can Be Achieved When Planned Well
For personal development goals to succeed they must be achievable. One way to do this is to make SMART goals, something many managers do to accomplish their objectives. This means that one’s goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound.
Returning to the earlier mentioned idea of the IT world, imagine that someone’s purpose is to provide great webpage service to small entrepreneurs who are not tech savvy enough to create and maintain their own websites. A “specific” goal would be to contact local businessmen in the area to set up a meeting. It can be made “measurable” by having a target number in mind (e.g. 30 initial leads, 8 to 10 actual meetings, and at least 2 or 3 clients).
This goal needs to be “achievable” so the target is not 100%. The targets need to be “relevant” so the person should contact those who seemingly need help based on a weak online presence. Finally, it needs to be “time bound” so there should be a timetable as to when these leads, meetings, and final negotiations need to take place.
Initially, such planning may seem like much effort. But it is very helpful and can be just what a person needs to finally make some headway in their life plans.
Christian Counseling for Personal Development Goals
Though many do understand the importance of having clear cut personal development goals, sometimes creating them can be quite difficult to do, especially if one’s purpose in life is still not clear. One helpful way to establish such goals is through Christian counseling.
With guidance, it can be easier to process one’s thoughts, form concrete plans, and solve problems. The Christian counselor can also help ensure that the person sticks to the plan, something that many have trouble doing, and encourage them during the tough times. But most importantly, the faith-based counselor will help the person connect with God through prayer and meditation on Scripture. Only with God’s help can one’s purpose in life become clear.
If you or a friend needs help establishing personal development goals, seek Christian counseling soon. It is only with God’s help that one can reach their full potential.
“In Love With The Earth”, Courtesy of Kyle Loftus, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Pray,” courtesy of Patrick Fore, unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Consultation,” courtesy of Nik Macmillan, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Growth,” courtesy of Meg Neilson, unsplash.com, Public Domain License