Another Look at Goals and Plans

Goals and Plans

Each of us engages in setting goals and planning each and every day. We just might not recognize it, that’s all.

Can you answer the following questions?

What do you want? Where do you want to go? How will you get there? What will you need along the way? How much will it cost? Who will help you? Do you know how? What else do you lack? What do you already have? Do you care about any of this? Will you pay the price? Given two choices of action, which one should you choose? What will you do, today, to get you closer? How will you know you have arrived? Are you closer or farther away? What are the signs you are missing the mark? Should you re-set the mark, or re-double your efforts?

The answers will, of course, vary between individuals, and in relation to the magnitude of the vision that motivates us. However, in order to manage or provide stewardship of our scarce resources – time, money, energy, talent, motivation – answering them to the best of our ability will bring a clarity and energy to each day that might be missing otherwise.

Mission or Vision

We begin with a framework of belief or a vision or mission that we use as a measure, a plumb line to our everyday ideas.

However, the vision and the mission are really too broad to be of much help in the routines of day-to-day work.


So, from the vision and the mission come goals or objectives, or targets or destinations. These fix the vision with a concrete picture or description. This is a picture seen through a glass, darkly. It will not be as we expect it to be. But it will help us along the way as we work day by day.

A goal is a target — a destination — an expectation — a measure of faith — a challenge of faith — a statement of desire — a statement of motivation. A goal is NOT a statement of fact or a prediction of the future, nor a rigid, mechanical, unalterable, inevitable control device. It is a guide to actions, a helper for planning, a measure of decisions and actions. Without a goal, it is difficult to make plans; it is difficult to make decisions of value.

I have used the example before of the targets in an archery range and a bunch of little boys and girls. The targets are not there for these children to hit bull’s eyes, but to keep the arrows all going “that way”.

But keep thinking about the ones who return to practice – who are captured by the thought of actually hitting the bull’s eye. In time, they will hit the target, and finally hit the bull’s eye. But because they are small, the target is close and the bow is weak. As they grow physically, soon there is no challenge in hitting bull’s eyes so close. They get a stronger bow, and move the target farther away, and keep practicing the skills that allowed them earlier success. Someone will become good enough to go to the Olympics and win a gold medal.

We aren’t out for gold medals. I believe goals are what will help us put to work what the Lord has put in our charge.

A goal is something we can see, touch, feel, and describe.

Therefore, a goal is SMART. This is an acronym for:

S pecific

M easurable

A ttainable

R elevant

T rackable


Can you see it in your mind? Can you describe it to someone else? Can you touch it, or feel it? Can you draw a picture of it? Can you see what is around it? Can you hear it? These are specifics. “Make some money” is not specific. “Make $100,000 in Net Profit by March 10th,” is specific.


Related to specific is the ability to measure it. How many? How much? What date? What pace? The above specific example has a number of measurable attributes. What are they?


There is a need to be realistic about a goal. We need to be able to believe in it. We need to be able to say… “It could happen.” This doesn’t mean that we put limits on what’s possible. It does, however, mean that we don’t set a target or goal so unrealistically un-achievable that even the most faithful prayer and petition can’t convince us that we believe in it.


Relevance keeps us from pursuing something that does not contribute to overall success. This means that it “fits.” Here is where we measure against our Mission and Vision.


This simply means that the measurables are available often enough that we can stay informed about our progress. Imagine setting a goal and not being able to see how well we are doing until the end, only to find out we were “that close” to making it… Daily, Weekly, Monthly collection and comparison of progress towards goals is important.

This also allows periodic comparisons of progress against a plan, and adjustments either to the plan or to the goal.

Within the Vision and the Mission are the Goals. From the Goals flow Plans.


Planning, I define simply, is deciding – today – what to do – tomorrow. A Plan is a series of pre-made decisions about how to accomplish a Goal. The Goal must exist before a Plan can be made. Once the goal is SMART, it is easy to make a Plan to reach the goal.

Begin at the end and work backwards. Divide the time into smaller and smaller chunks until you are able to see today. You will ultimately be able to answer the question “What do I need to do, today, to reach the goals I set?”

I recommend that your plan focuses on the Production or Action kind of Goals. Answer these questions:

How many customers will I need? How many do I have now? What is the demographic profile for my customer base? How will I identify prospects? How many prospects will I have to ask before I get a yes answer? How will I recruit them? How will I train them? How will I lead them? When do I get started?

I also recommend you start at the far end of your goals to get the big picture for your plans, and then re-focus on the coming Year, then the Quarter, then the Month, Week, finally the Day. Each day, in your quiet time, meditate on what to do this day to accomplish your goals.

Another illustration to help give light on this topic. Imagine yourself embarking on a vacation. You just start driving one day, and then you find yourself back at home. Did you have a good time???

Start again. Imagine you want to have an exciting two week vacation this October. Where do you want to go? Who will go with you? What means of transportation will you use? ? If you are driving, what route will you take? What stops will you make along the way? If you are flying, which airline will you use? Will you fly Coach, or First-Class? What kind of living accommodations will you require? Will you make reservations, or trust that there will be openings when you arrive? What will you eat? Will you take it with you, buy along the way, or eat in restaurants? How much will all of this cost? Do you have that much available today? How much will you have to save before you leave? How much is that each day? What will you have to give up to save that much money? What about alternative plans? What happens if it rains, or doesn’t rain? What do you do if there is a detour? What if you can’t save that much money, what would your second choice be?

You get the picture. Planning is not only smart, it is required.

We begin with the Goal – the Target – the Destination. We build Plans on the Goals – decisions today about what we will do tomorrow. As we work our plan, we are always evaluating progress so we can change plans, or readjust goals.

What kinds of Goals do you need to establish? What level of Planning do you need to do?

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