Goals. Schmoals.

I’m tempted to sign off here, to end in the immortal words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that,” but it occurs to me that a little more explanation may be required.

I’ve jumped at the opportunity to participate in a “blog hop.” This means that every other Monday for the next twelve weeks I will post here on a given, writing-related topic. I will then link this post to the blogs of a number of other writers also writing on the same topic the same day. This will give you the opportunity to hop from on to another to compare various viewpoints (click on “Writer’s Blog Hop” link in right column).

As you may have surmised, the topic for the first blog post is “What are your writing goals for 2014?”

ImageWhen I read the first topic, I admit my initial response was to gulp. Goals? Should I have made a list of goals for the year that I need to strictly adhere to? Is this why I haven’t made it onto the New York Times Bestsellers List yet? I booted up my laptop and opened a fresh page, determined to forge this list destined to change my life and career immediately so that I would be able to share with my readers—and the readers of my fellow writers’ blogs—just where I see my “vision-casting” taking me over the next fifty weeks or so.

But then, as so often happens when I am staring at a blank screen, I froze. After several, unproductive minutes of this, I powered the laptop back down and closed the lid. This goal thing may require a little more thought than that, I decided.

And so I thought about it. And thought and thought and thought. And here is what slowly crystallized in my mind: Not only am I not sure I do have goals for my writing, I’m not completely convinced that I should have them.

As Ricky Ricardo would say, “Let me ‘splain.”

As important as being a writer is to me, what is far more important to me is being a follower of Jesus Christ. And as a Christian, I decided it might be a good idea for me to turn to the Bible to see what it has to say on the topic of goal-setting. What I found is that it has surprisingly little to say on the subject.

In fact, Ecclesiastes 5:7 says, “Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:7).

There’s a goal I can get behind. Stand in awe of God. Do whatever it is you are called and gifted to do in order to further His kingdom. That’s it.

Image

Now, I’ve been raised in the Oprah-Dr. Phil-Anthony Robbins generation; I’m as indoctrinated as the next person in the belief that I should set goals and have a vision and craft a mission statement for my life, my work, my family, and my future. As I pondered this topic, though, a suspicion began growing in my mind. The suspicion that maybe, as a Christian, I’m not actually meant to follow the Oprah-Dr. Phil-Anthony Robbins manifesto for how to live my life.

I’m not for a moment suggesting that God would prefer me to flounder about aimlessly with no clear direction on how to live my life. Just the opposite. His direction is crystal clear: whatever I do, do it all in the name and for the glory of the Lord. For me, at least, spending copious amounts of time making and doggedly pursuing lists of things I absolutely must do in 2014 in order to reach my goals and achieve my dreams in my life and writing career doesn’t necessarily make that direction any more clear. It may, in fact, distract me to the extent that I lose sight of that direction entirely.

So here, after much soul-searching and consideration, is the sum total of my writing goals for 2014:

 

I will write.

I will pray and seek the will of God for my writing—and for every other aspect of my life—and always, always be open to His leading and guiding, even if He takes me down paths I didn’t anticipate, foresee, or even desire.

I will pursue excellence in my writing, as though I were doing it for God, and not for other people (including agents, editors, reviewers or readers).

I will use the gift of writing that I have been given to glorify God in every possible way and at every possible opportunity.

 

And that, dear reader, is all I have to say about that.

Press on, my friends. Press on,

Sara

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20 Responses to Goals. Schmoals.

  1. Sara,
    I am with you 100 percent. Although I do try to do the “tasks” I have set aside for the day, I am not “goal-oriented”. I want to be “Christ-oriented”. I think more than goals we should say – dreams. What does God put on your heart for this year? I have some desires and if He is willing they will be accomplished. One is that devo we were working on. But mostly this year I see as follow Him. And right now His word is connect. Connect with others about Him.
    So I love this blog hop as a way of connecting.
    Blessings to you,
    Janis http://www.janiscox.com

  2. Honest, inspiring goals, Sara. Thanks for posting.

  3. Tracy Krauss says:

    I chuckled when I saw that ‘getting the mail’ and ‘groceries’ followed after ‘world domination’ on your written list!

  4. I love the hand-written list, too. Let me know how that “world domination” works for you. 😉 Seriously, though, I agree with you. I’m a list-maker and need to plan in order to get started, but I want to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, everything “accomplished” is in vain. Well said.

  5. Sara, I have asked some of the same questions you have about whether I should even be making goals, let alone announcing them to the world! In some ways it feels so audacious. It’s hard to tease apart which things I daydream about are my initiatives and which His.

    My final conclusion is that God works in our lives either way–when they’re goalless (or we’ve not taken time to express our goals, as I think we have them at least subconsciously) or when they’re highly scripted. And so it becomes a matter of what works best for the individual. I personally like having a mountain in sight, even though my circumstances or lack of courage keep me in base camp most of the year.

    • Sara Davison says:

      I agree Violet, that’s why I tried to make it clear that I wasn’t sure if, for me, making lists of goals was the right thing to do. Same reason I don’t spend weeks and weeks outlining my novels – I’m just not wired that way. Both those things would suck all the joy out of the writing for me, although for others, that’s the thing that gets them all pumped up. God made us all different, and that’s a good thing.

  6. Bonnie Way says:

    Bravo! These are great goals. 🙂 I think too often when we are planning goals (for our lives or years), they involve a lot of ME and not much of God. In fact, I did write a list of goals, because I usually have some goals floating around in my head… and I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t stop to pray and ask God, “Are these the goals that YOU have for me this year?” So maybe I should say my list is subject to change… 🙂 divine intervention welcome! Thanks for sharing and nice to meet you via Ruth!

  7. I love your post Sara. I needed to read it because it actually brought me back to reality of who I am in Christ. Sometimes with all the rushing around trying to do a million and one things, I tend to put God on the back-burner so to speak. I don’t spend as much time as I should in His presence and it’s bad. I know that God is patient. But sometimes I feel that I’m testing His patience.

    Anyway, we make our plans but God direct our steps. So although I’ve made my writing plans for 2014, God is in the driving seat. One day He might decide to change the route. All I can do is pray to be in His will each day. By His grace I will achieve what He wants me to do.

    Your post has actually helped me to make a decision I’ve been putting off. I believe God spoke through you to me.

    May He continue to lead you as you work to bring glory to His name. God bless you. 🙂

    • Sara Davison says:

      I’m humbled and grateful that God used my words (His words, actually) to speak to you June. And believe me, we all try His patience on a daily basis. I love, love, love the verses in Psalm 103 that say “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” I’m thankful every day for a God who is slow to anger and abounding in love. May God direct you as you make decisions and seek to follow His will with your writing and your life. Blessings!

  8. Great post, Sara; I enjoy your writing style and content (no need to repeat what others have already said above). Looking forward to reading more as we hop around these next several weeks!

  9. Sara, it is always best to work with your God-given talents. Some people don’t do well with lists .

  10. Sara, thanks for adding this perspective. I love lists and without them I forget to do things I need to do. My post on this went up today, because I’m “hopping” behind the group and posting on Fridays. Whether we write out some plans/goals or just have some ideas brewing, you’ve reminded us of what really goes at the #1 spot on our “list of 2014” — worship God and follow His leading.

    Actually, what I really like are lists complicated enough to be outlines. And I can see this one:

    Seek God First
    1. His leading in relationships
    1a. with spouse, children, parents etc as applicable
    1b. with friends
    2. His leading in responsibilities
    2a. in writing
    2b. in work
    2c. in volunteering

    and so on. Only prettier, but I can’t format it in a blog reply 🙂

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