You are at the halfway mark of the year.  Have you made progress on the goals you made at the beginning of the year?  Are you spinning your wheels, talking the talk, and getting motivated, but not getting anything done?  You are not alone, but you don’t have to stay that way. 

While I worked as an engineer, I was responsible for safety and compliance of all products being designed and manufactured at the firm. There were multiple projects happening simultaneously, and I needed to review the designs, prototypes, and manufacturing processes for each project.

I was overwhelmed and my team had too much to do. I felt scattered and paralyzed. Therefore, I took my concerns to my manager.  He asked me to do a simple exercise.  He asked me to take every project and turn it into a manageable set of goals. Then with his help, I ranked theses goals in order of importance.

Within weeks I was ahead of the game and my team was crushing our turnaround times. Project managers loved my guidance and felt good about the progress being made.  Consequently, my team was in good spirits, and I loved my job!  I was making a positive impact.

Photo Courtesy of lapoutre2tek (cc)

Photo Courtesy of lapoutre2tek (cc)

I learned the secret to making progress in life during my time in the engineering world.  I’ve taken those simple principles and applied it to my personal life.  I believe you can use these principles to make progress in every aspect of your life.  Here are the 3 steps that I use:

Step #1: Get clear on your values.

What is important to you?  What motivates you to get things done?  For me, it is my faith, my family, and my personal ambition to be a world changer.  I have expressed the values in the post, “5 Marks of an Everyday World Changer”.  I want these values to shape everything I set out to accomplish:

  1. Live Intentionally
  2. Lead Passionately
  3. Love Genuinely
  4. Learn Constantly
  5. Leap Adventurously

This is a necessary step!  Goals must be anchored to values or they will simply become useless statements.  Goals should be connected to your heart – it should give you butterflies, stretch you, and take you to deeper places in life.

Step #2: Make SMART goals.

Not all goals are created equally.  In order to make progress, you should make SMART goals.  SMART is an acronym for the following:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Actionable
  4. Realistic
  5. Time-Bound

Michael Hyatt has a great podcast that breaks this idea down.   Here are my top 7 goals for 2013:

  1. Finish reading the one year Bible by 12/30
  2. Run/walk 4-5 times per week using “RunKeeper” and track calories using “LoseIt!” until 12/30
  3. Pray together as a family everyday that I am not traveling until 12/30
  4. Post new content to my blog every week until 12/30
  5. Launch 4-Year Regional Strategic Planting Initiative by securing funding, creating infrastructure, and recruiting personnel by 8/30
  6. Increase overall student participation in my area to 575 core students through planting, building, and affiliating by 12/30
  7. Speak to 3 diverse audiences and influence these groups to be World Changers by 8/30

Notice that each goal is specific and can be measured.  Each goal starts with an action verb.  Each goal has a date associated with it.  When I read this list, I get excited and know that I am becoming the person that God designed me to be.

Photo Courtesy of erinzam (cc)

Photo Courtesy of erinzam (cc)

Step #3: Remind, Review, and Recommit!

Understanding your values and setting goals is only the beginning.  Consider creating a pattern to reflect on these goals daily, weekly, and twice a year.

Daily, I remind myself of my goals to stay focused.  It is the first note in “Evernote” and the default task on “Any.Do” to-do list.

Weekly, I review if I made progress on the goals this past week.  I schedule a standing 30-minute meeting on my Google Calendar on Fridays.

Twice a year, I recommit to my goals.  I evaluate the progress I’ve made so far and celebrate any wins!  When I measure my progress, I cannot be discouraged.  Neither can you — never give up!  Always recommit to your goals.

Progress I’ve made on 3 of my goals.

  • Finish reading the one-year Bible by 12/30

The Secret to Making Progress in Your Life 3

I am really behind on this goal.  I should be at 50% and I am only at 23%.  I will continue to keep at it until December 30th.  Even if I don’t get to 100%, I will have read more of the Bible in one year than I ever had before.  I use the YouVersion Bible app.

  • Post new content to my blog every week until 12/30

The Secret to Making Progress in Your Life 4

I have done a pretty good job of posting every Monday! You will notice that each peak in the graph correlates to that week’s post.  In February, “The Secret to Initiating a Godly Romantic Relationship” went viral.  It was my highest traffic day by far.  I use Fishead Analytics.

  • Speak to 3 diverse audiences by 6/30

I am ahead of this goal!  I was asked to speak at multiple venues over the course of the past 6 months.  But I had to decline many of these requests.  I was determined to speak to audiences that were different from me in order to stretch myself and grow my speaking ability.  Therefore, I chose to speak at the following venues:

    • Texas A&M Commerce — addressed the Gospel Choir comprised mainly of African American students.
    • Asian American InterVarsity Staff Conference – addressed my staff peers comprised mainly of second-gen Chinese and Korean Americans.
    • University of North Texas Health Sciences Center — addressed graduate students at a Bible Study comprised mainly of African (Nigerian) students.
    • Ignite 2013 Youth Retreat – led a Bible Study for students and young adults from local Pakistani churches.

I had the opportunity to be stretched in new ways.  My talks changed and were nuanced to capture the attention of a new kind of audience.  I was able to experience this progress and development because I made a goal.

It is essential to make goals and keep them in front of you everyday so you can make steady progress. World Changers need goals in order to stay focused and make a difference!  I encourage you to get clear on your values, write down your goals, and review them often.  Let’s change the world.  Start today!

Suggested Reading

21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

by John C. Maxwell

This book has helped me take a hard look at my life. I have identified areas of my life and leadership that can be improved through these laws. Make progress in your life! Consider reading this book!

What are your personal goals?  Have you made progress?  Do you have any tips to help make progress in our lives?