So you want something to change. Maybe you need more money, want to reach a business goal, or just long for better health or relationships. Can you see yourself as though you’ve already achieved it? Can you feel how you expect to feel when it’s accomplished?
These are some of the first steps to powerful and effective goal-achievement, but one of the next steps is to set a date. While this step isn’t absolutely necessary, there are a few reasons why you might want to assign a date to your goal.
Reasons to Set a Date
- It makes you think more seriously about actually making it happen, putting it in “real time” instead of leaving it forever in “fantasy-mode”.
- It keeps you focused, and helps you avoid distractions that would derail you. After all, you have a deadline now, so you’d better get working on it.
- It increases your odds for accomplishing it, because a goal without a plan is just a wish.
- When your goal (and date) is set in a certain way, you receive unseen help with getting it done.
How to Choose a Date
Choosing a date for your goal can sometimes be one of the hardest parts of goal achievement. It forces you to think. It requires you to make a quality decision, to get serious about your objective, and to think it through with enough detail to determine an estimation of how long you believe it will take to complete it. All of these factors help you effectively achieve goals and they can be accomplished without setting a date, but if setting a date makes you do all of these things, then maybe you can see why the practice comes so highly recommended.
What if you Get it Wrong?
- What if you pick a date that’s too soon?
- What if you set it too far out, but it doesn’t really need to take that long?
- What if it doesn’t happen on the date you choose?
A goal date is like a due date. When a woman is pregnant, she (or her healthcare provider) checks the data and determines when the baby is due. It’s simply a best guess based on known factors. By the same token, when setting a goal, you simply pick a date based on the known factors: far enough away to be legitimately possible, but close enough that it creates an urgency to prepare for it.
Don’t get too worked up about choosing the right date, just give it your best guess and then firmly anchor your intentions to accomplishing the goal by that date. Remember, the real benefit is that the date keeps you on task. It keeps you from getting too distracted by competing interests.
How Long Should it Take?
The good news is that your goal, like a seed, has a finite gestation period. When planted properly and nourished adequately, goals and seeds both mature and bear fruit. There are natural laws that govern the growth and maturation of all things, including goals. Although science has completely catalogued the gestation periods for all seeds in nature, we don’t know the gestation period that corresponds with all the different goals, or idea-seeds. So when you set a date, you’re really just making a prediction of how long you expect it to take for the goal seed to mature.
On a side note, I believe in miracles. I believe that things can happen much more quickly by that rare kind of faith that I talk about so much, seemingly defying the more commonly understood laws of nature. These things happen within the structure of other natural laws that perhaps we just don’t yet understand. But I am convinced that nothing happens outside of governing laws. Since we don’t know or understand all of the laws by which God governs the Universe, we can do our best to understand and live by as much of the knowledge as we’ve received. And so the objective here is to simply do our part to make sure that we, at least, are not the limiting factor in what God can accomplish in our life. Yes, He can do all things, but how much we get to participate in those wonderful things depends squarely on our application of the laws and principles we’ve been privileged enough to understand.
Getting it Wrong Doesn’t Change the Outcome
Okay, so you set a goal and put a date to it. Are you going to be wrong sometimes? Of course you will. How often do mothers deliver their babies exactly on their due date? Does it even matter if the doctor’s prediction was not accurate? Not at all. The baby still comes! Having a date in mind simply keeps the mother on task in her preparations. The outcome doesn’t change just because the anticipated bundle doesn’t arrive on the due date. She doesn’t lament, “I guess I’m not going to have a baby.” NO, if she goes overdue, she becomes even more convinced that it will happen at any moment.
If you set a date for the completion of your goal, and it doesn’t happen by then, don’t think of the goal-setting process as a failure. It was working just fine. In fact, even in that moment it’s still working—the goal just happens to be overdue, according to your calculations. So you picked the wrong due date. So what? It doesn’t mean you aren’t still expecting!
A Critical Moment
It’s actually your choice of thoughts in that moment—when it didn’t happen—which are the thoughts that matter most. It’s in that moment, depending on your thoughts, that your goal will continue to develop like a Polaroid, or it will fade back into the nothingness where it began. As you continue to believe and work toward the goal, all that you need continues to gather toward you and develop until one day it’s finally achieved. To learn more about how this works, read Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help with Your Money Matters (FREE).
So hold on to the dream especially when it doesn’t show up on time. Doing so keeps it coming, and if it was important enough to shoot for in the first place, it’s important enough to keep believing in it. In hindsight, after you’ve finally achieved it, you’ll realize that it truly was better late than never.
Think of it this way: if it doesn’t arrive “on time”, then it probably just wasn’t done cooking. And that’s okay. You don’t want your goal to arrive half-baked anyway. Let it finish completely. When it misses your “due date”, get more excited, (not less), knowing that it’s even closer to being done than ever, and it’s only a matter of time. Keep preparing for its arrival. Be grateful, because when it does arrive, it will be even better than if it had arrived early.
So set some goals. Follow your dreams, and be patient with the process. Change takes time, but the time it takes is worth the wait. As my Dad taught me long ago, God doesn’t always deliver when you want Him to, but He’s never late.
To learn more, click here. Originally published August 14, 2006