Having goals is key to success. No doubt about it. But, while having the time of my life in the southernmost region of the United States this past week, I had plenty of time to sit and reflect on how blessed I am to have hit some major benchmarks over the past two years. I’ve been able to get married, started taking savings seriously, grown in a professional field, gotten involved in church, and am making better decisions about my diet. That’s great, right? Right.
The thing is, this past Friday, I saw an Instagram post by author and motivational speaker Greg E. Hill. In the caption, Greg asked a series of questions of himself, one of which got me thinking on a larger scale; he asked, “Have I really grown in my spiritual life or just more involved with church?” That question has had me reeling all weekend, on multiple levels. How many of us set goals that don’t necessarily promote growth? Benchmarks are great but they should only serve one purpose: to measure growth.
Think about it in terms of running. I love running. I used to be an avid runner and am currently working to get back to a semi-competitive level. So, one of my goals is to keep my average mile time between under 9:30/mi. But I hit the goal and then what? Then I should be moving down incrementally until I reach the point that I was at when I stopped running seriously. The same is true with my spiritual growth. Last year, I had a breakaway year as far as my relationship with God went. This year, I can already feel myself slacking some. I’m reading daily and praying daily and am active in church but I’m where I was last year. And that was great for 2016 but in 2017, I must set new benchmarks so I can continue growing.
Setting goals and investing in your growth look the same from a distance but, when you take a closer look, if the goals aren’t being set to promote growth, you’re just wasting your time. Why are you getting that master’s degree? What purpose does your dietary change have? Are you staying at this job just to get a raise or looking to work your way up? And, no, everything doesn’t have to be about growth. Sometimes I read books just because I need to unwind. But know the difference between doing something just because you want to hit a benchmark and something that will help you develop, be it financially, professionally, spiritually, or physically.
The beauty of life is that we won’t always hit our goals when we plan to but we can always be growing.
Make professional development a priority.