How to Get Back on Track With Your Purpose and Goals
For most of us, January is a month of planning or testing. Some of us are just getting around to setting our yearly goals, while the rest of us are finalizing and testing them out. Either way, it’s an opportunity for us to start fresh, pursuing the things that matter to us most.
But then, our worse enemy hits — February. The month where people generally start to fall off in their goals. According to research, nearly 80% of goals and resolutions fail by the second week of February. That leaves an underwhelming amount of people out there who are actually pursuing their purpose and goals.
But that’s now how God intended it to be. He doesn’t want us to give up on what He’s called us to do. He wants us to keep pressing toward the prize. Paul reminds us of this in Philippians 3:12-16:
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed for me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain it to you. But we must hold on to the progress that we’ve already made.”
In this Scripture, Paul is referring to the goal of being like Christ and all that He has called him to be. As purpose-driven women, we have that same goal: to step into the fullness of who God has created us to be and do all that He has created us to do, but like Paul, we all have some roadblocks that try to stop us reaching the prize.
Common Roadblocks That Keep Us From Pursuing Our God-Given Purpose & Goals:
So many women let their lack of perfection keep them from pursuing their purpose and goals. Trying to uphold these standards of perfection can leave us burnout, drained, and discouraged. Based on Paul’s account, it seems like he’s all too familiar with this notion of perfection. But Paul wasn’t talking about performance here, he was talking about maturity, which is needed to pursue our purpose and goals. Perfection isn’t a prerequisite to you pursuing your God-given purpose, but maturity is. In order to pursue your purpose and goals, it’s going to require some maturity and discipline on your behalf, but you can trust that as you press on, God’s grace and provision will fill in the gaps to get you where He wants you to be.
Although you should look to your past to plan your future, you shouldn’t live there. And you shouldn’t use it to disqualify yourself from the race. Look at Paul’s past: he spent his early days persecuting and killing Christians — that’s a pretty tainted past. But God wasn’t concerned with his past, He had called him to a purpose—to spread the gospel. Now, what if Paul let his past paralyze him from doing what he knew he was called to do? That’s why Paul said he had to forget the past and press on to the prize; he knew what was at stake. God isn’t focused on what you use to do, or what you have or haven’t done; He’s focused on who He has called you to be. So don’t dwell on the past. Focus on the present and how you can press on toward the future.
I believe one of the main reasons why people don’t make it past February with their goals is because they’re discouraged by their lack of progress, and largely that lack of progress is due to their unrealistic expectations. Think about it, most goals are set based on cultivating new habits or doing something that was never done before, meaning that you have spent the majority of your life not doing those things. So if you are attempting something new, why is there so much pressure to see instant results?
Good things take time. There is no such thing as instant plants. There is no such thing as instant blockbusters. There is such a thing as instant dinners and fast food, but we all know how that tastes compared to a good, slow cooked meal. Good things happen over time. Not overnight.
Instead of viewing your purpose and goals as a sprint, what if you started to view them as a marathon? Something that you could take slow and steady? That’s why I love that Paul reminds us that “we must hold on to the progress we’ve already made.” There is no rush to make things happen in a month. There’s really no rush to make things happen in a year. Remove the pressure of time. Remove the pressure of striving. That doesn’t mean that we should get lax in our purpose and goals and not work with urgency. It simply means that instead of stressing, we’re pressing on toward our goals, trusting that God will reward us with our prize at the right time.
So now that we’ve addressed our common roadblocks, how can we get back on track with our purpose and goals?
1) Realign with your why
If your goals aren’t rooted in what matters to you, you won’t be inspired or motivated to achieve them. When motivation fails and it will, your why will keep you going. Write down your goals and ask yourself why you want to achieve them. Every now and then when you find yourself getting off track, always go back to your why.
2) Make sure your goals are “in season.”
Not every goal is meant to be achieved when you conceived it. Sometimes God gives us ideas and goals that He wants us to sit with so they can be acted on at a later and more appropriate time. If you find that you’ve been doing all you can to work on a goal and it just isn’t happening, ask yourself if it's the right season for it. If not, there is no need for goal guilt. Simply write it down and save it for later.
Sometimes it’s not that our goals aren’t in season, they just need re-directing. When the action steps, systems, or routines you’ve tried haven’t been working, maybe it’s time to re-direct or try something different. For example, I’m in the process of re-directing one of my business goals by changing my business model. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to reaching your goals. There are many ways you can go about reaching your goals. The biggest thing is to not limit yourself. Explore all the ways that you can pursue your purpose and make your goals happen.
4) Find accountability.
One of the best ways you can get back on track with your purpose and goals is by telling someone. When our goals only live in our head, it’s easier to talk ourselves out of them (especially when a wave of overwhelm or discouragement washes in). Telling someone else about your purpose and goals makes them real. It adds a healthy pressure for you to make them happen because you know that person will be checking in on you and rooting for you. So enlist a purpose partner. Find a mentor. Or hire a coach. Just make sure that the person you choose will actually hold you accountable to the purpose and goals you want to make happen.
5) Decide and commit.
Oftentimes the gap between us accomplishing our goals is the decision to commit. A decision isn’t a debate when it comes down to your money. Each day you decide that you’re going to work so you can collect a check. And although you may not want to on some days, you decide that your financial provision is more important to you than sleeping in. You should have that same level of decision and commitment when it comes to your purpose and goals. Stop making excuses. So what if you missed a day? You don’t have to wait until the next year to start again. Today can be your January 1st. Make a decision today that you will commit to your purpose and goals.
Have you been allowing goal guilt to get the best of you? Is perfection paralyzing you from moving forward? Has your past been robbing your present? Have you been making imperfect progress on your purpose and goals? Don’t allow the month of February to be your undoing. Instead of retreating in defeat, fight the good fight by ACTively pressing toward the goals and purpose God has called you to.
Need a little push? Download this free coaching worksheet designed to help you get unstuck and back on track with your purpose and goals.