The Danger of Setting Goals

iStock_000021351648Danger of Setting Goals

This is the time of year when people typically begin to review the past, relish the fondest of memories, and imagine a brighter future for the days to come.

New Years’ Eve Celebrations will necessarily be followed by massive clean-up efforts, and fresh resolutions will tack the door frames, hallways, and refrigerators of our everyday, ordinary lives.

New Year, New Start

New Years’ Resolutions get a bad rap at times. Perhaps it’s the universally-accepted phenomenon that these types of “commitments” can easily be short-lived and then we’re delivered back to the desperate norm of the most basic of goals: survival.

So, let me add my voice to the barrage of other bellowers berating the besetting “sins” of setting goals.

Here are 4 dangers I see in setting goals:

1. They provide clarity and focus

It’s so much easier to rush from one event to the next, frazzled and frantic amidst the rush of frenetic activity. Your heart races, your body pulses, and you tend to “feel” more when you’re stressed and anxious and hurried and un-focused. Setting goals provide a clarity and focus that takes away that anxious feeling of not-doing-what-you-should-be-doing-when-you-should-be-doing-it. So, I don’t recommend setting goals if you prefer the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants sort-of rush. It’s certainly not for everyone.

2. They hold you accountable

We love the phrases “no commitment required”, “no monthly fee”, “no obligation”. Who wants to sign a contract when you can get the same type of service with no commitment? This may work for some cell phone and cable-tv services, but it typically doesn’t work in trying to achieve our goals. Setting the goals is the easy part. Committing to them is what requires hard word and effort. It’s what helps us push through “the messy middle.” If we’re committed to our goals, they hold us accountable. That’s a dangerous thing if you’re opposed to accountability, hard-work, or effort.

3. They help you say “No” to other things

The word “No” has to be the most hated word in the English language. It’s the first thing a toddler screams about. Tell a 2-year-old “No” when she is about to put a fork in an electrical outlet, and two things happen: 1) you will save a life, and 2) your ears will hurt. “No” enforces limits. “No” establishes boundaries. “No” tells us that we can’t be everywhere, do everything, read every blog, participate in every event, and still achieve our every goal. In other words, “No” puts an end to our continual lust for God-like status. It reminds us that we are finite beings and that only God is infinite and unlimited in his power, wisdom, love, and strength. If you don’t like the word “No”, you might not want to set any goals this year because establishing clearly defined goals helps you say “No” to other things.

4. You just might achieve them

Perhaps after reading the preceding dangers, you are still with me in your desire to set goals. If that’s the case, I understand. However, you do need to be very careful of this final danger. This one is a tricky-one, and it may be the most dangerous of them all, so let me explain. In the event that you do decide to set clearly defined goals that provide focus and clarity, you decide to commit to those goals and be held accountable to them, and you learn how to say “No” to other things in order to achieve your goals, be very, very careful of this lurking danger:

You just might achieve your goals.

What are your goals for the new year? How will you hold yourself accountable to those goals? What do you need to say “No” to in order to achieve your goals? I would love for you to leave any comments in the comment-section below.

I'm a husband, father of four, healthcare IT recruiter, pastor and writer. I live in the greater Nashville, TN area where I serve as an elder with Redeeming Grace Church (