Goals Need to be EVALUATED

Tips for evaluating your goals


Once you’ve written SMART Goals you need to take them to the next level, you need to make them the SMARTEST goals you’ll ever have.  That means you need to do the difficult work of Evaluating, Sharing, and Tailoring your goals.  Over the years I’ve discovered that when I write my goals I’m either too high on what I think I can achieve or too easy on myself.  These next three steps help me get further.

When it comes to evaluating goals you need to take the 5-7 goals that you have already written and set them aside for a couple of days.  The excitement needs to be tempered a tad and you need to think about the reality of the goals that you have in front of you.  If you’re like me you’ve written down the great aspirations of your life.  You can’t get there in a year.  You can get there in a lifetime.  Evaluate carefully and contemplate carefully.

Tips to help you clarify

Look at each of them and ask yourself the basic SMART questions:

  • Are these goals specific?  Are they clear?
  • Are these goals measurable?  Are they associated with numbers?
  • Are these goals achievable?  Are they realistic?
  • Are these goals relevant?  Do they matter to my future?
  • Are these goals time bound?  Do they have specific start and end dates?


Click on one of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals elements below to jump to a more specific description of that area.  Click here to get an overview of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals system.


Gospel-Centered Goals: 3 Mindsets to Ground Our Goals in the Gospel


3 Mindsets to Ground Our Goals in the Gospel

If you’ve read any of my previous posts (Annual Goal Planning, 5 Keys to Writing Annual Goals, Write Your S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals, Setting Life Changing Goals) you’ll probably see that I really love planning, setting, and achieving goals.  Doing those things are wonderful and every year when completed I have a sense of satisfaction.

However, if I’m not careful an acceptable feeling of satisfaction very quickly morphs into pride.  When brainstorming, writing, and achieving goals it is important to keep the gospel at the center of our goals.



1.) “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” – (James 4.15)

You can set your goals.  You can make them the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. goals you’ve ever had.  You can create a plan with sub-goals that move you forward and you can carefully and diligently work at them.  But, when all is said and done, the outcome is ALL in the Lord’s hands… it is not in your hands.



2.) “All things were created through him and for him.” – (Colossians 1.16b)

Everything in heaven and earth and under the earth was made through Jesus.  Everything.  It exists by Him and FOR Him AND that includes me.  That means that my purposes must line up with His purposes.  If my goals don’t line up with His goals then He has the right to change them.  I don’t exist for me. I exist for Him.



3.) “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” – (1 Corinthians 15.10)

I am proud of my work ethic.  I work really, really hard.  My wife calls me persistent.  Typically, I don’t give up until something has been finished.  This moves me to think that it’s me.  This verse says that it isn’t true.  I work by God’s grace.  God’s grace in me.  God’s grace through me.  Goals aren’t achieved through my hard work, they are achieved through God’s grace.



These mindsets help me while I’m thinking about my goals and especially as I complete them.  I don’t want to fall into the trap of believing that I’m the cause of my own success.  That’s why I chose the picture that leads this post.  It reminds me of something very important: I am unbelievably small and yet unfathomably loved by someone utterly beyond me.



How do you remember the gospel while working out your annual, monthly or weekly goals?

Annual Goal Planning: 7 Steps to Begin Your Goal Year

Goal Planning

As I’ve shared in a previous post I deviate from what is typical when it comes to planning my goals.  Similar to how companies and organizations will set a different fiscal year, I set a different “Goal Year” (February 1st – January 31st).  This weekend I’m getting to see the fruition of 4 goals that I set at least a year ago.

That means it’s time to celebrate!

It also means that it is time to work through my process to write new goals. Every year I work through this process as I prepare to get off the ground quickly in my new Goal Year.

1. Examine the previous year’s goals

In January I look back at what I accomplished (and didn’t accomplish) in the previous goal year.  As I’ve gotten better at goal writing and planning I get to see a lot of successes.  This wasn’t the case for the first several years where I would frequently bite off more than I could chew.

At this time of year I look back on my list of goals and the sub-goals I set to get there.  Where I accomplished the goal I want to understand why.  When I failed to achieve the goal I want to see where I tripped up in planning.

It is more fun to look at success, but the most important part of this exercise is to understand what caused you to fall short.  Were there unaccounted for obstacles? Should the goal be a more long range goal than an annual one? Hold yourself accountable and ask why you missed the mark.

2. Look at long range goals (3, 5 and 10 years out)

Your annual goals should align with longer term goals.  In 2016 I completed my doctorate.  That was the completion of a 3 year goal when I started coursework in 2013.  My goals for that doctorate were annualized (i.e. get an ‘A’ in this seminar or write chapter one of my dissertation).  Each of those annualized goals led towards the completion of the doctorate in 2016, but graduation wasn’t the goal for 2013, 2014 or 2015.

3. Consider my contexts

This is something I got from Tim Challies in his book Do More Better.  Everyone has different roles like husband, father, leader, or student.  When writing goals you need to think about accomplishing goals in terms of your context.  I have 5 contexts that I work within:

  • Personal – Typically spiritual and fitness goals.
  • Family – These are things like leading devotions for our kids, financial goals, and have regular date nights with my wife.
  • Church – I lead a church and every year I set a couple big goals for CityView Church.
  • Business – I consult, coach, and speak a little.  I write goals to help keep me on track in these areas.
  • Student – Leaders are learners and this is where I examine how I’m learning whether it is a book list, certification to acquire, or language to learn.

4. Brainstorm where I want to be in a year

This is the fun part.  Ask yourself where you want to be at this time next year.  I LOVE WHITEBOARDS.  I get alone in my office and I write all over my two large whiteboards.  I think about dreams I have.  Everything that comes to mind goes on the board.  Like my second grade teacher told me, “there aren’t bad ideas in brainstorming.”

5. Analyze patterns in the brainstorming

While brainstorming patterns begin to emerge.  Group similar items together. Ask yourself how the items relate to each other. Frequently, during this step I find sub goals that will lead to a larger goal.

6. Decide on no more than 2 annual goals per context.

Too many goals and you’ll quit. Too few and you won’t be challenged.  Typically, when coaching people in goal development the issue isn’t too few goals, but too many. This is my favorite phrase – focus is your friend.  You can achieve a lot in a year… if you focus.
This is my process and it certainly isn’t perfect. I’d love to hear your thoughts or critiques. Do you have a process? What elements matter to you?


5 Keys to Writing Annual Goals

2017 Annual Goals

5 Keys to Writing Annual Goals

Resolutions and goals go with January like peanut butter and jelly.  A new year brings new hopes and new opportunities.  In order to turn hopes into reality you’ve got to get serious about writing goals that you’ll follow through with.  That’s the idea behind this goals sseries.   I’ve been writing on goals for the last week. Check out the first two installments:

1) Face Yourself

Self awareness is a skill that has gone by the wayside in our day and age.  As you write annual goals you need to “know thyself”.  Understand what you are capable of and what you aren’t.  A frequent issue for those who start writing goals is they bight off more then they can possibly get done and they get discouraged.

2) Forget Past Failures

So you’ve failed at your goal once, twice or… twenty times.  So what.  If it is worth achieving the likelihood is that it is hard.  If it is hard then there are lots of unforeseen obstacles that can arise. Analyze what caused you to fail.  Once you figure out why you failed put it behind you and move on.

3) Fight for Progress

There is going to be adversity.  If the goal isn’t hard then it isn’t worth it.  You are going to need to have grit and fight move forward.  Here is one of my favorite movie scenes that deals with this fight.  Be inspired!

4) Find Those Further Along

In two weeks I’m hoping to complete one of my goals: Run a Full Marathon.  I don’t exactly have the typical body type for this and, until recently, I wasn’t surrounded by many experienced runners.  I sought out some experienced runners and asked them questions.  Then I sought out some runners who had just completed their first marathon and asked them every question I could think of.  That wisdom from those further along has proven to be invaluable as I’m two weeks from completing this gigantic goal.

5) Focus on the Goal

Marathon Annual Goals

I’ve had one picture on my to do list every day for the last year.  This is the finish line at the Chevron Houston Marathon. I’ve looked at this thing everyday for a year.  I can’t wait to cross that line.  Keep your eye on the prize.  When distractions come, focus on the goal.  When injuries happen, focus on the goal.  When you begin to fade in your resolve, focus on the goal.

Do you have any tips on writing goals? Anything to add?

Write Your S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals: 8 Keys to Writing Life-Changing Goals


Write the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals of your life

You’ve got to get serious about your goals.    Achieving your goals is important.  You have to write them well otherwise a year of discouragement and disappointment is in store for you.  In a previous post I shared a different take on the famous SMART Goal System.  I use the acronym S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. to explain how I write and attain goals.  Here is a little more depth and a few tips.


The goal needs to be clear and concrete.  Bad goal = “save more money”  Good goal = “Save $1000”.  Bad goal = “read more”  Good goal = ” Read 12 books in 2017″.  Do you see the difference?  Don’t say “more” or “get better”.  Be specific at what you are working towards.  READ MORE ABOUT SPECIFIC GOALS HERE


The goal needs to be measurable in some way or another.  The goal has to be measured against something.  “Lose 10lbs, Save $2500, Run 5 Miles a day”. This is typically a quantitative number.  You need to know whether or not you achieve the goal.  That means it needs to be measurable.  READ MORE ABOUT MEASURABLE GOALS HERE


The goal has to be attainable.  Don’t make the goal so easy that you can do it in a few minutes.  Don’t bite off more than you can chew and become demoralized by the size or scope of it.  What is achievable?  Lord, willing on January 15th I will complete a full marathon (26.2 Miles).  This was a goal I thought about trying to do 3 years ago.  3 years ago I couldn’t have done it.  At this point I have worked through a training plan and have done multiple long training runs. I am sure I am capable of making it.  3 years ago… not so much. READ MORE ABOUT ACHIEVABLE GOALS HERE.


The goal needs to matter for you.  It needs to be something that means something for your growth and health.  It needs to be rooted in who you are and where you want to be.  READ MORE ABOUT RELEVANT GOALS HERE.


I need deadlines.  They make me work harder and focus hard.  I bet you are similar.  Set a deadline or a time limit. Sometimes I set mini-goals that are midway to annual goals.  For instance, “Run a 5k by June 30th  in order to prepare to run a 10k by December 31st”.  READ MORE ABOUT TIME BOUND GOALS HERE.


I write my annual goals over a couple days then I set them aside for a couple days and come back and evaluate them again.  Sometimes you are feeling more optimistic while writing then you should.  Sometimes more pessimistic.  Take some time and look over them again.  READ MORE ABOUT EVALUATING GOALS HERE.


Share your goals with a few others who are close to you.  Ask their opinion and receive their feedback.  Ask them to check up on you periodically as you pursue them.  Accountability and community are essential.  This aspect has been the single most important step in achieving goals.  READ MORE ABOUT SHARING GOALS HERE.


After you’ve evaluated your goals and asked for input from others rewrite them.  This isn’t cheating.  This is wise.  Tailor your goals to what makes sense after careful evaluation and sharing.  READ MORE ABOUT TAILORING GOALS HERE.

Quick Tip: It is a good idea to do the Evaluate, Share, and Tailor aspects quarterly to check on your progress and make sure your goals are still stretching you, but also realistic.

What are your goals for the year?  What are you hoping to achieve?  Do you think the SMARTEST Goals System could help you?  Do you have any goal setting tips to share?