The Ultimate Goal

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The Ultimate Goal

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Driving home from Winter Camp the other day, two teen campers and I were listening to tunes on an oldies pop-rock station when we heard that line:
"We know what we want, but we don't know why..."

It's a commentary on our modern world—people don't know the "why" of life. And sadly, that means they don't know the ultimate goal! How well do you plan? What personal goals have you set? Failing to plan equals planning to fail. Good practical goals give you something to work toward in school, work and life.

Goals give a sense of purpose and value to your efforts. Setting the right goals is the first step to your success. Learning about the ultimate goal will take your life to the pinnacle of success—and beyond!

A long time ago, in 1968, in an office far, far away (unless you live near the University of Maryland), Dr. Edwin Locke published a ground breaking study of how goal setting helps workers work better. From that research he developed his theory of goal setting that has been widely acclaimed in the business world ever since.

As others built on his work, an acronym for setting goals emerged—SMART:

Specific and stretching. For example, rather than deciding to just "get an education," determine to "graduate from university with a degree in accounting."

Measurable. How can I know if I'm reaching my goal?

Attainable and action-based. Is it reasonable for me to plan to become a David Beckham–quality soccer/football player when I've never been coordinated in my life?

Relevant. Does the goal even apply to my circumstances—or, more importantly, to my beliefs?

Time-bound. When do I want to reach my goal?

It's smart to set goals. Dr. Locke's goal theory stands on a sound foundation, but let me introduce you to a greater goal-setting scholar.

"Dr." Solomon

Specifically blessed by God to be the wisest man who had ever lived, King Solomon of Israel understood the power of setting goals even longer ago in an office much farther away.

"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life," he advised (Proverbs 4:23). Control and focus your mind and emotions or they will wreck your plans and goals before you start.

"Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you," he continued (verse 24). To set good goals you must be truly honest with yourself, with God and with everyone else.

Next, he wrote, "Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you" (verse 25). Keep focused on where you're going and how to get there. Goals can only be reached by concentrating on the right plan.

He followed with: "Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established" (verse 26). Think carefully in setting your goals. Then follow through to reach them. Consider this modern saying: "Plan your work—then work your plan."

Finally, Dr. Solomon cautioned, "Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil" (verse 27). Don't stray from the right track by following evil impulses. And make sure the track is a right one from the start! Vertical thinkers don't set evil goals.

Many in this present world, however, do make evil plans to commit sexual immorality, to hate and murder others, to terrorize and destroy, to lie, cheat and steal. Many accomplish these plans because goal setting is powerful stuff—for good or for bad.

Put your goals to work

Success demands good goals written down and reached.

In Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way, a book about effective leaders in today's schools, author Robert Ramsey comments on the energy of goal-setting: "Many administrators don't fully appreciate its power. Goal setting can change lives and careers" (2005, p. 36).

What's good for teachers is also good for students. Goals can change your life too!

"Goals have built-in power because they are promises we make to ourselves to be and do better. They work best if they are written down and revisited regularly. By asking yourself, 'How am I doing on my goals?' you can take personal inventory on an ongoing basis" (ibid.).

He summarizes some key points about making your goals work for you and adds, "The best goals excite, inspire, and contain an element of fun" (ibid.).

Let's give our lives more purpose and focus. Let's set some sample goals:

• Set educational goals—to raise your grades one grade point in the next term, to read a book on the history of your country during break.

• Set physical fitness goals—to jog a 12-minute mile (about 1,600 meters) within three months, to climb a significant mountain next summer.

• If you are working, set workplace goals—perhaps to learn a new skill on the job in the next two weeks or to read the industry trade journal in the break room every month.

• Set spiritual goals—to establish the habit of daily prayer within three weeks, to read the book of Proverbs one chapter a day for a month. (Tip: read the chapter that corresponds to each day of the month.)

Jesus Christ on goal setting

Most of the sample goals above are physical. If you set and reach them and future goals like them, you will be a physical success. In setting such goals you would obviously know what you want—but you wouldn't necessarily know why.

Physical goals are temporary, like our mortal, biochemical existence. They give a measure of purpose and meaning to our lives, but they don't explain the reason we exist in the first place.

Jesus Christ told all the people listening to His Sermon on the Mount—young and old—that there was more to life than just physical things: "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" (Matthew 6:25).

We apply many of our goals and much of our effort to obtain wealth to get food, drink, clothing, shelter and entertainment. Yet these goals are just the "what" of life, not the "why." Without the "why," they are fatally flawed in the eternal sense.

The ultimate goal

Christ then described how God even provides for the flowers and birds and how He will provide for us. "For," he said, "your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things" (Matthew 6:32).

Then He set forth the "why" of our existence—the ultimate goal that should dominate our lives and shape all our other goals: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).

The Kingdom of God is ultimately the glorified family of God. Our goal is to live by the high standards of that family and at last become God's divine children when Jesus Christ returns soon to this earth.

So, to be in the family of God is our ultimate goal. That's why we were born!

That pop-rock lyric has to be changed for vertical thinkers: "We know what we want— and we do know why!"

To learn more about your ultimate goal, be sure to request or download a free copy of our newly expanded booklet, What Is Your Destiny? VT