Best-Laid Plans

In Luke 14, as Christ instructs His followers about the costs of following Him, He gives the example of a man who set out to build a tower but was unable to finish because he did not properly plan and budget for the project. His goal was never completed, and the unfinished tower stood as a visual reminder of the importance of planning for and monitoring progress towards an intended goal.

Much has been written about the value of goal-setting, making detailed action plans, and monitoring benchmarks throughout those plans. Goal-setting theory is one of the most researched fields of motivation in organizational psychology. Correctly implemented, goal-setting and planning works.

Goal-setting has proven a great motivational tool for accomplishing desired outcomes. It follows a specific process that starts with the desired outcome (dream). In the example from Luke 14, the dream was the man’s tower. It has been said an unwritten goal is just a dream. In the results of a study by Dr. Gail Matthews, those who record their dreams or goals are 43% more likely to accomplish those goals than those who did not. Written goals must be structured in a way to enable and motivate follow through. The most common acronym for properly stated goals is SMART. Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time-based. A properly-stated goal might say:  “I will save $5,000 by December of this year.” Structuring the goal this way defines specific targets that can be broken down into action steps, which help outline an “attack plan,” and allow for progress measurement.

When a SMART goal has been written, it provides details on how to structure an attack plan to accomplish the goal. We can break down the $5,000 goal into monthly, weekly, or daily amounts to create more attainable “bite-sized chunks.” The smaller and more specific we make those goals, the easier it is to convince ourselves we can accomplish the task. As time passes, we can easily measure our progress against the daily, weekly, and monthly goal amounts to see if we are still on track to meet the goal by the deadline.

As goal-setting theory developed, researchers found the more we monitor our progress, the more motivated we are to continue striving for the goal, and therefore we are more likely to accomplish the goal. Our SMART goals create natural benchmarks against which we can measure our progress. In a similar fashion, health and fitness apps on smartphones help users monitor health goals by tracking progress. This visual data keeps us motivated to stick to it the next day and the next.

Let us not be like the bad example Christ provided in Luke 14. Rather, let us be people who set out to build towers with the funds and plans to complete them. Set SMART goals. Implement a reasonable plan to accomplish those goals. Monitor your progress along the way so you stay on track and stay motivated to finish the goal.


**Adapted from ONE Magazine