Goals Need to be MEASURABLE

Tips to help make your goals measurable


A couple years ago I wanted to improve my physical endurance.  I set the goal of completing a marathon which means moving forward for 26.2 miles over the course of hours.  It was easy to see during training runs that I was going further.  Each month I could see progress towards the measurable goal of 26.2.Your goals need to be measurable.  You need to be able to know when you’ve achieved the goal.  You need to be able to see progress and movement forward towards the goal.  This aspect goes hand-in-hand with specific.  Specific focus helps define the measurable aspect of the goal.  When annual goals are measurable it aids in the process of setting monthly goals that help achieve it.


Tips to help you clarify

  • What number can be associated with the goal?  Maybe it is a distance you want to be able to run or an amount you want to put in your retirement account.
  • Is it possible to see progress towards your goal?   Where do you want to be in April? July? November?
  • If you are having trouble coming up with a measure you may need to make your goal more narrow and specific.


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.


Goals Need to be ACHIEVABLE

Tips to help make your goals achievable


I recently completed a marathon.  That was a stretch, but an achievable goal based on my ability level, size, and talent as a runner.  All it essentially requires is that you need to be able to endure pain and boredom for a long period of time and not stop moving your legs forward.  It would absurd for me to make my goal to set the world record in the marathon or win the Chevron Marathon.  Those goals aren’t achievable, they are ridiculous.  Don’t write ridiculous goals.Your goals need to be achievable.  The goal needs to require stretching, but also be attainable if you are diligent and disciplined.  This is a tightrope to walk.  Don’t make the goal to easy. Don’t make the goal to hard.  Unless you are in your last year in college you can’t graduate within a year most likely, but perhaps you could graduate in two years.  You can accomplish more than you think you can when focus on the goal, but be honest with yourself about what is actually doable.


Tips to help you clarify

  • Is it reasonable to see yourself achieving this goal within a year?
  • Based on your current position and ability level will this goal stretch you, but not demoralize you?
  • Would your goal be better as a 3 year goal with separate annual goals?

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.


Goals Need to be TAILORED

Tips to tailor your goals



After you’ve written the goals and evaluated them for yourself and shared them. Now you should tailor them or tweak them.  Take the input from your personal evaluation and the input from others and rewrite your final draft of your goals.  Write them clearly for the year.  Then write out the subgoals that will get you to those major goals.  Make sure those subgoals also carry the markers of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals system.

Tips to help you tailor your goals.

  • Write the goals down and put them in a very visible spot.  You need to be reminded of what you’re working towards.
  • Put the goals and subgoal deadlines on your personal calendar.  I need deadlines.  This help me see tangibly how much time I have left before a goal is due.
  • Get organized.  I use a two primary tools to help me write out my goals and track them.
    • Evernote – This is my brain.  I send clips and snippets of everything that relates to my goals here.  Motivations, ideas, websites all go here.  Everything is easily uploaded and easily systematized.  They have a wonderful free version.  I upgraded though and am so happy I did.
    • Omnifocus – This is my primary project management and task tracker.  Every goal and subgoal goes into Omnifocus.  I set annual goals as folders and subgoals as projects within the folder then I write tasks that correspond to those subgoals.  This software is a tad pricey, but I’ve found it to be superior to the other task and personal project management apps available.

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.


Goals Need to be SHARED

Tips for sharing your goals



Once you’ve evaluated your first draft of your goals you should share those goals with others.  Share them with close friends, your spouse, mentors, and coaches.  Tell them why you are trying to get more serious about setting and completing goals.  Ask them to take a look at the 5-7 goals you are working towards.

When it comes to sharing your goals with others the benefit comes in two areas.

1) Input

You’ll be able to hear what others think about your goal’s attainability and benefit to you.  One of the hardest things to do is to open yourself up to others in this way.  Let them see your goals, maybe even give them a couple days to think about them, and then ask for HONEST feedback about them.  The eyes of others on your situation is a gift.

2) Accountability

Others will be able to know what you are working towards and ask you about it in the future.  Make sure these people are close to you and will ask you about them on a fairly consistent basis.  This community around your goal will help you push forward when you want to quit.  Give them the freedom to ask specific questions.


Tips to help you share your goals

  • Who should you share your goals with?
  • Do you have a coach or mentor?
  • What barriers might you find in sharing your goals.

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.


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.


Serve to Lead

serve: if serving is below you, leadership is beyond you

The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12 ESV)

Jesus’ leadership style is different than most business leaders. Leading like Jesus led means giving yourself up like Jesus gave himself up.  He was the greatest among his disciples and he washed all of their  feet.  All of them… even Judas.  Jesus served.  Jesus died.  He surrendered himself for others.  If you desire to lead others in ministry, business, or your home then you have to put their needs first.

To say it simply: “If serving is below you then leadership is beyond you”.  If you can’t serve others then you aren’t qualified to lead them.

  • Men, if you won’t serve then you aren’t ready to be a husband and father.
  • Ministry Professional, don’t complain about people in your church not serving, if you don’t set the example by serving them in tangible ways.
  • Business Professional, if you won’t serve then you won’t be able to practically demonstrate the gospel you believe.
  • Church Planter, if you won’t serve your community then your sapling church won’t thrive and likely won’t survive.

If serving is below you then leadership is beyond you.  However, if you take up the high calling to serve, like Jesus, like his disciples, you will soon be recognized as a leader by those people.

Focus on serving others and soon others will focus on following you

…and you’ll still need to serve them…it’s what we do

Is there a leader that serves you well? What do they do? What can you do to come alongside those whom you lead?

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?


A Pastoral Case of the Mondays

4 Reasons Pastors SHOULDN'T Take Mondays Off

Is it Monday already for pastors?

Sundays are work days for pastors.  They are busy from early mornings until late at night.  CityView Church where I lead is a portable church, we meet in an elementary school.  Setup starts at 6:30am and tear down is over at 12:30pm.  Then there are lunches, counseling appointments, and meetings in the afternoon.  Finally, we’ve got Life Group at 5pm.

All of these things are GREAT and necessary and… exhausting…

In the past I’ve made the mistake of taking Mondays off.  That’s right, I said mistake.  I’ve got a friend.  Here are 4 reasons why I think it’s important that pastors shake off their case of the Mondays and go into the office.

4 Motivations for Pastors to work on Monday

  1. Debrief.

    Sunday is fresh in your mind.  You need to debrief.  What went right? What went wrong? Who was there?  Who wasn’t?  On Monday, it’s still on your mind.  If Sunday was a particularly good day (or bad one) you likely haven’t stopped thinking about it.  Consequently, I always prefer to deal with it early so that it doesn’t shade the rest of my week.

  2. Administrate.

    Monday is a great day to deal with numbers. I look at attendance for our services, life groups, and giving.  I look at trending data and try to assess how we are doing.  Emails are returned and notes are written.  I take out my plans for the coming week’s message.  I look at meetings that are coming up that week and prepare.  It’s a good day to plan, pray, and think.  My friend Jeremy Roberts has written on this as well.

  3. Recharge.

    Recharging is really important. Sunday has been draining and it is sometimes hard to worship on Sunday mornings when you are about to preach. I take some time on Monday to write personal notes to volunteers and visitors and listen to some podcasts of preachers I follow.  I need to hear the Word from others.  It brings deep encouragement and good renewal.

  4. Family.

    I spend my weekly day off, usually Friday, with my family.  I take my boys to school, have a breakfast or lunch date with my wife, take a nap in the afternoon, and plan some low impact family time for the evening.  Frankly, I’m not in the mood for any of that on Monday.  I can barely form sentences.  I want to have energy for my family. That’s not me on Monday.

I recently heard Steve Gaines, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, speak at a conference.  He said in no uncertain terms that pastors shouldn’t work on Mondays because “you shouldn’t feel that bad on your day off”.

What do you think?  Do you take Mondays off?  Another day?  Why?

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?