A Goal, a Plan, and Some Help

It’s a big day for me today.  Today begins my first day of a 12-week training schedule leading up to my second half marathon!  I ran a 2:08:39 in my first half, and this time my audacious goal is to break the 2-hour barrier.  I need to shave 40 seconds a mile off of my pace from January, so I need to get training!  Those 40 seconds are not magically going to run away and hide; I know that it is going to take a lot of hard work (and hopefully 5 less pounds to lug around) to make it.

The first step to making a goal happen is writing it down.  Done, and you’re my witness.

It takes more than a goal to be successful, though.  The world is filled with people who set goals that they never achieve.  Whether they are New Year’s Resolutions or financial goals or what have you, the world is littered with discarded goals and the frustration that comes with them.  It takes a plan to get from where you are to where you are going, and some help along the way.  Plan your work and work your plan.  Get help in planning from those who know the ropes, and bring others alongside to help you work your plan when it gets tough.  This is true not only in running, but in life.

For my training, that means a running schedule and some mentorship.  I got a running schedule from Runner’s World (the “Smart Coach Training Program” box is great…just plug a few details in and viola!) and then tweaked it to my particular schedule needs and past results.  I know where I stand today in my running, so I wrote a plan to hopefully get me from where I am to a 9:10 half marathon pace.  Now I have a written plan for the next twelve weeks.  That two hour Personal Record (PR in runner’s lingo) will only come if I hit the road consistently and with purpose.  I also sent the plan to my two amazing running coaches (my beautiful, marathon-veteran wife and my sister-in-law, who not only is a marathon veteran but also broke 2 hours in a half while 8 months pregnant with my nephew!).  I know that I need some feedback to make sure that my plan is workable and will get me to my goal.

The second step to making a goal happen is planning the work.  Done.  Now all that is left to do is to work my plan.  That’s simple, which is not at all the same thing as being easy!

For life, many goals are not so concrete as “I want to run a two-hour half marathon.”  I think that every one of us should have as a goal to be completely committed to Christ, as Paul shows us in Galatians 2:20:

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

That’s a great goal, but it’ll never happen without a plan!  How can we live a life that is completely devoted to Christ like this?  Well there are plenty of steps along the path; if you’ve walked this path in the past you can certainly sketch the basics like I did in my running plan.  If not, consider adding some “parts” to the plan:

  • Get into the Word of God daily.  Having a daily plan of Bible reading is crucial for spiritual growth.  Men, if you’ve got no ideas you can join our online men’s Bible study Yahoo group.
  • Make prayer a daily part of life.  And not just over meals, but asking Him to make you new every day.
  • Get into community.  Get to church, and don’t just attend.  Serve, learn, grow, and get to know people.  Make friends with others in your church who are growing in their walk and invite them into your life!

Once you have a plan, check it with some godly mentors.  Don’t have a mentor?  Get one!  Seek out godly people who have walked the walk for awhile, and tuck in under their wing.  As the author of Proverbs says at Proverbs 15:22:

Without consultation, plans are frustrated,
But with many counselors they succeed.

Get some counsel on your goals, plan your work, and work your plan.  Want to be a better Christian?  How about a better husband or father?  A better wife?  Maybe money is tight and you want to be a better money manager.  Then set a goal, plan your work, check your plan, and work your plan.  Perhaps you need to build some physical health as a spiritual discipline.  (I was a bowl of goo coming out of seminary…)  Set a goal, plan, check, and get after it!  Whatever the situation, the only wrong answer is to sit there and do nothing.  So get after it!  And just so we are clear, make sure that you’re bringing God into every step of the process, lest James smack you upside the head:

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”
14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.
17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Give the Lord His place as Master, set goals that honor Him, plan your work, check your plan, and work your plan.

See you at the finish line on June 6th in San Diego. 🙂

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