How to make your personal goals stick

Have you ever struggled with the same weight loss goal for years? Are you trying to kick the same bad habit year after year? Welcome to the club. Most of us struggle with a problem area in our lives for years. Some of us struggle with a problem area for a lifetime and never really get it under control. Have you ever stopped to consider what is keeping you from meeting this personal goal or getting this problem area of your life under control?

Am I lazy or just lack vision? If you’ve ever honestly asked yourself that question, you know that it’s a humbling question to consider. I’m convinced that one of the reasons why people don’t accomplish difficult personal goals… is because they’re not willing to be honest with themselves. Let’s face it; it takes a lot of courage to look in the mirror and ask the question, why can’t I get over this personal struggle, why can’t I kick this bad habit? Ultimately, you have to get to the point where you’re willing to look in the mirror and admit that it’s your own fault that you are not able to make a personal goal stick.

Here’s some brief advice on how to challenge yourself to make a personal goal stick. You’ve taken the first step to accomplishing your goal when you’re willing to look honestly in the mirror and ask yourself a couple of hard questions.

No compelling vision to pursue

The first question to ask the person staring back at you in the mirror is, “Do you really want to change?” This is a pass or fail, true or false question. If you really don’t want to change, then no amount of setting resolutions is going to make a difference. Even if you find the perfect diet plan or workout regiment, you’re not going to keep the gains that you make if you don’t have a burning desire to change deep down inside.

One of the reasons why people can’t find this strong desire to make a personal goal stick is they have no real vision for what the future might look like. You need a vision for what your future might look like if you’re able to accomplish this goal over the long term! This vision must motivate you to do the hard work of making a personal goal stick.

If it were easy to accomplish that personal goal, you would’ve done it a long time ago! If it were easy to lose that weight, you would’ve already lost it. If it were easy to change the way that you look, you would’ve already done it! If kicking that bad habit were easy, you would have done it a long time ago. It’s hard work! Something must compel you to be willing to put in that hard work. I can think of nothing better to keep you on track than having a vision that you’re shooting for. Do you have that compelling vision? If not, no matter how awesome the personal program you’re about to start might be, you probably won’t make that goal stick for life.

No power to change your life

Maybe you have the vision but lack the power to make that goal a reality. Even if you are pursuing a strong vision, without the power or resources to make that vision become a reality, nothing is going to change in your life. Let me give you simple an example: If you want to earn a spot at the corner office as a senior vice president in your corporation and the job qualifications require an MBA degree from a prestigious school to even be considered for the position, you have no shot at this position if you only hold an associate’s degree from a junior college. In other words, it’s not a desire to serve in the job, it may be that you don’t have the resources to get there.

I think sometimes God allows us to struggle to accomplish our own goals just to show us how dependent we are on him. I think he sits back and allows us to wrestle with the same challenges repeatedly or fail at the same goals over and over again just to show us how much we really need him.

Making change permanent

It is so sad to see people waste their God-given potential because they have no vision. It’s equally sad to see people who have a vision but lack the personal power to make their vision come to pass. If you find yourself in this situation- if you lack the personal power to make your goals stick- I’ve got good news for you!

The Holy Spirit of the living God has more power than you could ever need to accomplish the task for which God has called you. This is the essence of the Bible’s teaching in Philippians 4:13. Notice carefully what the Bible is saying in this passage… It’s not that you have the ability to accomplish all things. Rather, it suggests that God is more than powerful enough to accomplish anything he chooses and often, God chooses to accomplish his work through people- the writer of this passage is essentially saying that God can do anything. That when I am completely yielded to God’s Spirit, he is able to accomplish anything through me.

This leaves two natural challenges to making your personal goals stick. The first challenge is to examine, is this goal selfish or does it come from the Lord? In other words, am I trying to accomplish something for my own selfish purposes, or is God putting his vision in my heart for my future? The second challenge that naturally comes next is, am I trying to accomplish this God-given goal on my own? Am I using my own power to accomplish God’s purposes? It is foolishness to believe that by my human endeavor I can accomplish superhuman purposes. It is equally spiritually foolish to believe that I can accomplish lasting spiritual results through natural human endeavors. The truth is, I can accomplish nothing without Jesus (John 15:5), but with him I can accomplish anything (Philippians 4:13)!

If you want to know how to make your personal goals stick, here are two suggestions: 1) Make sure your personal goals are God’s goal for your life. 2) Make sure you’re accomplishing God’s goals using God’s power. Nothing can stop a man or a woman with God’s power and a God-given vision!

Further reading