Many Christians are motivated in different ways to achieve something. Whether it's losing weight, making more money, improving life quality, or taking up a Christian meditation practice most people like to reach beyond their current circumstance. But what does the voice of wisdom in the Bible have to say about this, and if it's okay, how do we reap the most from our efforts?
Here's a couple Bible verses specifically on goals and plans:
But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. 2 Chronicles 15:7
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. Psalm 20:4
The most prominent message in these verses is that God blesses the work of His people. Naturally, anyone can set a goal and achieve victory. The difference is that some effort will be blessed other wise is not. Of course, the result of blessed effort will yield a far better fruit.
So the Bible does not prohibit followers to set goals and achieve them, but rather it points to our internal condition so we may reap the highest rewards of our pursuit. A heart, soul, and mind cultivated by God's word in love will yield the greatest blessing.
This principle is especially highlighted by the words of Jesus in John 14:23:
"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."
If we love God, as well as others, then study and meditate upon God's word until it becomes the default thought of the mind, Jesus states that the presence of God will increase in us.
The logical assumption is that God's increased presence will not only inspire us to pursue goals in God's will, but that God will bless our efforts along the way. This logical conclusion emphasizes the fact that God wants to His will more manifest by the will of people.
So if you've established a goal, or two, this article will help you stay the course until you achieve it.
There is new science that shows how people can achieve extraordinary goals with a couple simple strategies.
But, you need to understand that there is two kinds of motivation. First there is "promotion motivation". This type of motivation kicks in when a person sees the advantage of the goal for themselves. For example, someone wanting to slim down might think about the clothes they will wear as well as self image.
In a recent report by Dr. Olya Bullard and Dr. Rajesh V. Manchanda, describe it like this:
“Promotion motivation encourages people to focus on hopes and aspirations, it makes people think of their goals in terms of attainment of something positive, and it leads individuals to favor approach-oriented “eager” strategies in goal pursuit.”
However, as people approach the end of a goal, their psychological defense mechanism is triggered. Mentally, it becomes more about avoiding a slip-up that might hinder the outcome then the process of reaching the destination. This second type of motivation is know as "prevention motivation". Here's how Dr. Bullard and Dr. Manchanda explain it:
“…prevention motivation encourages people to focus on responsibilities and duties, it makes people think of their goals in terms of avoiding something negative, and it leads individuals to favor avoidance-oriented “vigilant” strategies in goal pursuit.”
Across a series of five experiments, the both doctors discovered that people went from promotion motivation to prevention motivation during the life-cycle of a goal.
So, if you thinking of embarking, or are already, on of a journey toward a goal, take the advice from the doctors:
“…focus on how reaching it will help you fulfill the hopes and aspirations you have for your life and employ approach strategies to help you stay motivated.
Strategy Number 1
Make a list of all the elements that support your progress. Take note of most positive things that will help you attain your goal. For some people it might help to set in place rewards at certain miles stone throughout the journey. This may be especially important at the early stages of goal pursuit.
Strategy Number 2
Once you get closer to your goal research shows:
“…focus on the duties you have in your life and how goal attainment will help you feel that you are taking care of these responsibilities."
Begin to expand your vision how the attainment of your goal will improve other aspects of your life and others. Then employ avoidance strategies to keep motivated and on track.
Make a list of things that may hinder your progress then avoid them. Get creative about prevention tactics, have fun with this step. If there's something you don't like to do while pursuing your goal give yourself permission to take a short break. The immediately get back into your groove. Be sure that the break does not undermine your goal progress.
Oddly enough what Dr. Bullard and Dr. Manchanda discovered is the biblical principle of diligence. Diligence is careful and persistent work or effort. Whether it's in adhering to habits that bring results, or avoiding pesky distractions, it comes down to diligence. And the Bible associates goal attainment to diligence. Without diligence there is failure, and the Bible speaks about that too.
"The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty" - Proverbs 21:5
"But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded." - 2 Chronicles 15:7
"Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house." - Proverbs 24:27
Here's the most astounding verse:
"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?" - Luke 14:28
Both Dr. Bullard and Dr. Manchanda explain in their scientific analysis that the best results are achieved by people who assess the path of progress along with the positives and negatives. Jesus expounds on virtually the same principle. In Luke 14:28 Jesus states that it is wiser for a person to assess the cost of a goal before launching the effort.
Once again researchers stumble upon God's wisdom and prove it true.
So if you're ready to take your goals to the next level take Jesus' advice. Sit down and write out the benefits and all the costs to achieving your goal. Assess how you will get there, devise ways to keep on track, then execute your plan while remaining flexible.
God bless you. See you in the kingdom.
Journal of Consumer Psychology (Bullard & Manchanda, 2017).