As a child, my goals were elaborate and a bit lofty. Adulthood, my 10-year-old self speculated, would be spent living in an actual tree and creating terrific pieces of art that people would flock to buy. And, I told myself, when I achieved these goals, I would forever feel accomplished and happy. I was silly!
I’d been told that goals only come to fruition by a combination of planning and hard work, and so I prepared for adulthood by spending hours outside building forts with sheets draped over tree limbs and curling up under my bedroom desk with a hardbound sketchbook whose every drawing was carefully titled, signed and dated. Oh! For a period, I wanted to become an artist!
Now in my twenties, I still don’t live in a tree nor have I ever sold a piece of art, despite those hours of diligent preparation. Disappointing to be sure, but these setbacks haven’t stopped me from continuing to set goals. Not all of my goals go according to plan, but when one does, I do feel senses of accomplishment and happiness. Now that, I want to become a writer!
We live in a society that champions people to have goals; society tells us that by setting and achieving our goals, we will not only be accomplished and happy, but we’ll be seen as responsible and ambitious as well. These feelings are fleeting, though, often only sticking around for as long as the recognition does. And so in order to hold on to this recognition, we go after bigger goals that require more energy and time and planning. But are we truly accomplishing more and, if so, at what cost to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being? Often when we choose to carry out goals for our own reasons, stress builds, relationships get tossed to the side and we fail to care for ourselves in healthy ways.
Proverbs remind us that no matter how carefully we try to lay out the steps, God is still the master coordinator of our lives. Our day planners might be a little busy, but God’s day planner is overflowing with his best intentions for us.
There is nothing wrong with setting goals and striving to achieve them; I believe there is great importance in this. Rather, what matters most is taking time beforehand to delve deeper and discover the true purpose of a goal. In recent years, I find myself asking two simple questions: Why is this particular goal so important to me? Is this goal for self-recognition, or is it part of a greater plan—God’s plan?
When I fail to answer these questions truthfully and instead try to follow my own game plan, I often wind up directionless and unsure of what steps to take. God’s plans for us might be demanding at times and they might be harder routes than we’d prefer to follow, yet they are always designed to help us be the very best versions of ourselves. His plans are intended to build us up, not wear us down.
I feel that my life, all achievements, my successes and failures, my hopes and broken dreams, heartaches and loneliness, friends, people around me, days and nights and every single thing is architected by God. The most important thing is, he is the only entity, who never lets me down. I’m thankful before him for making my life worth living.
Despite our best intentions, our day planners will likely remain overly busy and our goals will occasionally lack intention. Some days we’ll feel so stressed that we don’t know what step to take next. Yet we can take comfort in knowing that God is right beside us, hands poised over his great big day planner of our lives, ready to swoop in with suggestions whenever we’re ready to give his way a try.