Goals are supposed to be a tool to help us align our actions with our priorities and make us make progress towards what matters to us. Sounds good right?
Well, then why do we so often fail at our goals?
Or better yet, when we succeed at them, why do they leave us dissatisfied?
If you are a type A Christian who wants to “do everything right” and yet goal setting seems to be causing more harm than good, then you are my people.
I’m a perfectionist. Yep, no denying it. I want to build the perfect life, untainted by the slightest mistake. I want to make the perfect goals and fulfill them perfectly every time. I want to live perfectly and love perfectly, and never need time or energy for anything that dips beneath my standards of perfection.
Problem is, life doesn’t work like that. God doesn’t work like that.
In fact, often, the harder I try the more I fail.
But, this is by design.
Once I heard a friend say, “Chasing a goal is a little bit like chasing a rabbit”.
It is always going to be a bit frantic, even if it is methodical.
Rabbits are agile, fast, and have no interest in getting caught. Even when we do catch them, it is not without some shortness of breath, and some scars along the way to show for it. Even when we become “expert rabbit catchers”, it still requires large amounts of effort, planning, agility, and focus.
Naturally, that effort steals energy, time, and focus from everything else in my life – like marriage, kids, ministry, and God. Even if one of those is a “rabbit” we are chasing, what about the other ones. How is anyone supposed to do it all?
Even if we give ourselves a chance and chase only one rabbit, we end up frantic, exhausted, potentially hurt, and maybe never even catch it. Plus, nothing else gets done either!
Please, explain to me how that is a good plan?
Then I had a little revelation…
How do people traditionally catch rabbits?
They don’t chase them at all!!!
It is much smarter to use bait and a trap/snare.
The goal is still the rabbit, but the difference is peace.
There is a second difference as well:
You may not know which rabbit you will catch, or when you will catch it. Maybe you will catch nothing, maybe you will catch two. Maybe it will be something else entirely. Only God knows. Your only job is to set the snare.
Surrendering your Rabbits – The Secret to Peaceful Goals:
The steps are very clear:
- Discern if you really even need this rabbit – Get your “Why” very clear (Purpose = Motivation = Perseverance)
- *Note* – This step is crucially important because, if your priority is wrong then the foundation of the goal is fundamentally flawed. This is why when many actually DO manage to achieve their goals, they are left dissatisfied. In addition, if your foundation is shaky, not only will you likely lack the motivation for follow through but, in addition, your real priorities suffer because you divert energy from them to pursue the wrong thing.
- Study and research – ie. learn about best “rabbit catching” practices and tools and how to use them
- You may find during this step that you no longer want to pursue the goal – that’s ok. Sometimes it takes some study to learn what NOT to do. Be grateful for the experience and move on.
- Gather supplies – ie. invest in necessary tools – Spend the time/money/energy it takes.
- Hint – This step will let you know how serious you are about your goal. What are you willing to sacrifice to accomplish it?
- “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and in his joy over it he goes and sells everything that he has, and buys that field.” – Matthew 13:44
- Set trap – ie. Act – Using all your accumulated knowledge and supplies, do your best to actually IMPLEMENT THE PLAN
- At a certain point we have to stop “learning” and “investing” and just act – Anything else eventually becomes a form of procrastination
- Wait – Trust and Surrender
- Now you have done your best. This is where you “let go and let God” – do your best and entrust the results to the One who calls you. If He wills it He will bless it… And if not, should we even want it either? It is out of your hands and you can move on to the next “rabbit”.
I don’t know about you, but this takes a huge weight off my shoulders. Now I’m only responsible for doing my best, not for succeeding.