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targets and goals

It seems like much of our world is built around goals. Goal-setting is widely accepted as the gateway to success. Want to get somewhere in your career? Set a goal. Want to lose weight? Better set a goal. Looking to become a more avid reader? Try setting a goal. Can we even do anything without first setting a goal?

As helpful as goals can be (and they truly can be), I remember resonating a lot with some advice I heard from Kendra Adachi (AKA The Lazy Genius). She said, "Set targets, not goals." Her reasoning was that when we set goals, we often make them a pass/fail kind of thing. If we don't 100% reach our goal, then we've failed. I guess she figured a lot of us are harder on ourselves than we need to be.

Her refreshing idea was instead to picture a dartboard and give yourself permission to celebrate even if (gasp) you don't hit the bullseye. If the bullseye represents a goal, then the entire dartboard would represent a target, and suddenly you're not just trying to hit that impossibly small circle in the middle; instead you are giving it your best shot and seeing if you can simply get your dart somewhere on the board.

There is so much less pressure with this approach! Whatever you're working at today, what would happen if you gave yourself a target rather than a goal? Maybe you didn't get every single dish washed, but can you celebrate getting the dishwasher loaded and running? Does that at least put you on the board?

Now of course there are situations in which goals are a bit more important. If I'm having surgery, I would certainly hope my surgeon is quite clear on the goal and is not going to be content with "just getting on the board". Hopefully we can all recognize that setting targets isn't about being as lazy as possible. It's about letting go of that pressure we sometimes put on ourselves to do it all perfectly. Pressure that often leads us to a paralyzing kind of despair when we fall short.

Let's take this concept one step further though. Have you ever felt like you couldn't even bring yourself to set a target, let alone a goal? Maybe you're too exhausted to think clearly. Maybe you're lacking the creative spark to come up with a good target. Or maybe you're so overwhelmed by the vast number of possibilities for targets that you can't seem to narrow it down to decide on one.

In other words, what happens when you don't have a target?

I suppose I'm asking this question because it's one I'm currently living in. Sometimes I write my way to an answer, and it seems like it would be great if that happened in this case. It would be great to figure out what to do when I feel severely lacking in direction and purpose.

In times like these, perhaps I need to remind myself that it's not necessarily going to be helpful - or even possible - for me to strong-arm my way into setting a target. But I'm reminded of a couple Scriptures that might help me move forward. One is these words of Jesus in Matthew 11: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." It seems like I have to start there. I have to start with simply coming to Jesus and saying this is where I'm at.

I know about the places in Scripture that call us to set goals - like Paul's words about running with perseverance and pressing on toward the goal. But I also realize that if I try to do these things on my own strength, I'm not sure that it's going to work. I'm not even sure if me trying to force myself to "set a target" is what was intended in those Scriptures.

But when I read Jesus' invitation - "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened... take My yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart" - I feel more like I know what to do. Come. Just as I am. No need to set a goal or a target first. Just come.

Then I remember another gentle urging, the one in the beginning of Romans 12:

"Therefore... in view of God's mercy, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." So, let's not conform to the pattern of this world - that goal-setting, target-setting pattern. Instead, let's renew our minds. How? By coming to Jesus. By bringing our whole selves to Him, just as we are.

It doesn't do us or anyone else any good for us to pray while pretending we have the gumption to set a big target or goal - or even a small one. Like I once heard Richard Foster say, "we must pray as we are, not as we're not."

The next time you're struggling to set yourself any kind of a goal or even a target, start by coming just as you are, and then let Jesus guide your steps from there. Bring your whole self to Him, and do whatever the next right thing is He gives you to do. As we keep coming back to Jesus, we can trust that He will give us the goals and targets we need when we need them.

"Welcome Home" by Deborah Nell. See more of her art at


Pray with me...

... Father, give strength and rest to all in the ACSD community who are weary

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. Psalm 29:11

... Jesus, draw all of us, and especially the ACSD students, to come to You often

Come near to God and He will come near to you. James 4:8

... Holy Spirit, give wisdom to all the ACSD leaders and help them set targets and goals that align with Your will

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5


Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at

~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator

Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory

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