Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. Philippians 3:13
I do a lot of running. I have run several marathons, several half-marathons, and countless other shorter races. I don’t have a running partner to practice with, so I run against myself. It is almost a detriment because I can never just go out and enjoy a casual run. I have to time myself on every run, and I have to beat the clock the next time I go out running. My mission is to beat my previous time. However, if beating my previous times is the only thing I had in mind, I would probably never accomplish that. I have to break my larger goal down into several smaller goals. I have to say, “I want to be at this point by 28:00, I want to be at this point at 36:15,” etc. That is how I am able to accomplish the formidable task of beating my previous practice time. If I set small marks and reach them, then my overall goal will be reached as well.
Many young people get discouraged because they can never attain their spiritual goals. The problem is that they have one lofty goal set with no plausible way to reach it. They say things like, “My aim is to be a good Christian,” but they become frustrated when it feels like it never happens. Break it down into smaller, reachable goals. Say things like, “This week I will read my Bible every day,” or “I will spend fifteen minutes in prayer four times this week.” If you want to stop listening to the wrong kind of music, then set a smaller objective of finding three good, godly songs a week until it has completely replaced your former music. If you break it down into attainable goals, then it will not be long before you are reaching the bigger, tougher goals. If your goal is to do well in school, then you can set smaller goals of getting two A’s this week or studying for thirty minutes each night. You will soon notice your grades begin to climb, and you will find that you are succeeding in your primary goal of doing well in school.
It is important to know what your overall objective is, but you may become overwhelmed in trying to reach it if you don’t give yourself small steps to achieve along the way. The other advantage you gain by following this approach is the ability to see your progress. It becomes an encouragement when you can see that your efforts are paying off. Set your aim high, but achieve them physically or spiritually by giving yourself smaller goals you can easily attain.