I write them in my prayer journal and refer back to them…when I remember to do so. How do we actually succeed when we have a goal in life? What virtues help us to achieve it?
1. First of all, it’s important to discern your purpose at each season of your life. Purposefulness means to focus on what matters most to you. Instead of wandering in circles, set off on the path leading to that purpose step by step, even if they are just baby steps.
When I was a therapist I had a client who was terrified around other people. She was so shy she couldn’t even make eye contact, and she was very lonely. Together we made a plan for tiny steps she could take, one at a time.
Making eye contact with three people a day for a week was the first step - in a shop, or at her job. Next, add a smile. She got to the point where, after many small steps, she looked forward to socialising, discovered her sense of humour and was able to make friends.
2. Have a clear vision of what you actually want to accomplish. As Proverbs 28:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Picture your goal in detail. Be as clear as possible about what you are aiming for and go for it! What does your life look like when you have accomplished this purpose?
3. Make a plan. A popular saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin is, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Stuart Schroeder said, “The difference between a dream and a vision is the work plan.”
A good plan has specific, measurable goals, such as saving a specific amount of money from each pay cheque in order to build a house or buy a vehicle; taking a course toward a degree; or researching how to create a new business.
I learned a great secret of success from a consultant who shared it with me as we walked the beach in Perth, Australia. Research after a Virtues workshop.
He said research shows that the best plans last for 90 days. Set 3 or 4 do-able, manageable goals for that time period. Pick a guiding virtue (such as Idealism) and write it in the centre of a paper along with a brief slogan such as, “With God all things are possible,” as well as your start and finish dates. Write the goals around it, and steps you will take to meet each goal. Look at it often. It can make all the difference in achieving success.
4. Choose your true yes. Another key to success is to choose something that really brings you joy. Quaker author Frederick Buechner said, “Our calling is where our deepest gladness and the world’s hunger meet.”
If there is something you like to do and people who need it done, you have the foundation of a successful enterprise. Life is too short to do otherwise. As Sufi poet Rumi says, “Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”