A common New Year’s resolution for many believers is to spend time in the word every day or read the entire Bible in one year. Spending time in the Word is essential to maintaining and growing our relationship without our Creator, but the task can, at times, be a daunting one. Especially if your goals seem unattainable or inconsequential. Our goals get lost in a void of could-have-beens when there is no consequence to their completion. I happen to be one who routinely sets the lofty goals in terms of devoting time to my biblical studies. I annually set out to meet the challenge of devouring the bible in one year’s time, but I fail to implement practical steps for attaining that goal. What many believers don’t realize is, the goals we set are often impractical. If we do not change our pace of life and establish practical ways to achieve our goals we have already set ourselves up for failure. If you are like me, your intentions are in the right place, but your execution is flawed.
In order to attain your well-intended goals, I am offering 3 simple ways to lock down your goals and achieve desired results. While I am offering steps to help you attain your goal of reading the Bible routinely and/or entirely, these steps can be implemented to achieve just about any goal.
1. Set Practical Goals
When goals are unrealistic or difficult to accomplish the chances of following through are slim. One way to amplify your goals is to set a realistic time constraint on them. This might look like, deciding to complete your devotionals for the day by a certain time. Let’s call that time for 8 o’clock in the evening, for example. With that kind of time constraint, you are free to go about your day, make dinner, and devote some time to the Lord before bed. Setting a time constraint on your goal establishes a routine and a time-sensitive accountability. Acknowledging an appointment with your devotional studies will increase your chances of following through on your reading goal (yay!).
You might also benefit from a day-by-day or week-by-week goal. For me, it is not realistic to read every day, or at a certain time because my schedule is so sporadic. In order to achieve my reading/devotional goals, I set weekly goals. I plan to read at least 3 chapters in my bible per week and more than that if I have time. I have found that my sporadic schedule and residue from the day can take a toll on my appetite for reading. Some days I feel like reading a ton, other days, I can barely get through ten verses (especially when reading things that aren’t easily digested…old testament, anyone?).
All of this is to say, the brain thrives on predictability. Setting time-sensitive goals, whether those goals are daily, weekly, or monthly will increase your chances of success in attaining your goals.
2. Create Reward
Another way to increase your chances of following through with your goals is to establish some sort of reward for your efforts. Now I’m not suggesting that you bribe yourself to read the Bible…but the brain does love to be rewarded. Throughout our lives, we are conditioned to repeat behaviors that induce a positive outcome. So treating yourself to a latte at the end of a successful week of reading or indulging in your favorite TV show (Fixer Upper, obviously) after completing your daily reading can be an appropriate way to help reinforce the habit of time spent in the Word.
Your reward, like your appointment with biblical reading, should have a time constraint on it. In order for your rewards to be appropriate for the completed task, it is wise to decide when you will administer your reward. This might look like the example described above. If you finish all of your reading for the week, take yourself out for a treat on Friday during your lunch break. Or maybe your reward looks like hiring a babysitter for an afternoon while you go to target (definitely the route I would go). However, you decide to treat yourself, keep it humble. I don’t see anything wrong with a trip to target or indulging in a hot cup of coffee, but meeting a reading goal probably isn’t cause for an elaborate shopping spree or a home renovation project, (even if you are inspired by Chip and Jo’s incredible work…) keep your reward smart and humble.
In addition to setting a time constraint on your reward, be sure not to punish yourself for a missed goal. Just because you didn’t complete your goal doesn’t mean you failed or you possess a character flaw. Your treat should be a fun thing to look forward to not a thing to lust after. Getting to reward yourself should be fun but loathing the outcome of a missed reward might be cause for concern.
3. Establish Accountability
Once you’ve set your reading goals and healthy rewards to enhance your chances of success, it is time to find some accountability. Establishing accountability looks different for everybody. Some like to post their goals on social media, others like to verbally express their goals to someone they trust, and others prefer to forge a partnership. Let me start by unpacking the first route. Posting on social media can be an effective way to attain your goals because you are exposing your goal to a large mass of people in a relatively quick and efficient manner. The downfall of social media can be lack of follow up. You might receive some encouragement on your initial post but the chances of someone regularly checking in on your goal is slim. So if you opt for the social media route encourage others to get involved and routinely post about your progress #goalgetter. Next, verbally expressing your goals to trusted ones can be super effective. No one wants to be known for going back on their word or making false statements, so making a verbal expression keeps you accountable to your word. Just like social media, however, you might have to routinely express yourself (once a month or so) to let you trusted confidants know how you are doing with the goal you set out to achieve. Finally, forging a partnership is possibly the most effective route for attaining your goal. Having a friend, or friends, to check in with can be a tremendous help in keeping on track with your goals. Meeting once a week, or even once a month, with your goal-getting partner(s) is a fantastic way to maintain both your goals and friendship! I personally love having a reading plan a group of girls to discuss my findings with. Knowing that I am going to meet with a group of girls who have done their “homework” for the week is all the accountability I need to get into gear and crush my goals.
So get out there and get to work on maintaining those goals! The trifecta above should ensure a fool-proof plan to attaining your goals and FINALLY reading and studying all that you intended.