What’s the Goal of the Goal?

Yesterday, I touched on failed New Year’s resolutions and how I’m pressing on with my own resolve to blog here every weekday throughout January even after deliberately skipping a day this week. Because, as I pointed out, even though I set a goal to blog daily, my true goal wasn’t to blog every day — it was to develop a more consistent blogging habit. Posting daily was just my methodology.

Thinking about that, I started to wonder how many people’s failed resolutions are failing simply because they’re putting too much emphasis on methodologies and not on the actual purpose — the true goal of the goal, as it were.

Maybe you resolved this year to eat Paleo, or Keto, or whatever’s currently popular, or you resolved to work out every day, and your resolve to do those things has already petered out and so you’re declaring them failures. But what’s your true purpose behind making those changes? Is it to eat Keto for the sake of eating Keto or to work out for the sake of working out? No — I’m betting your true goal is to move more, eat less junk, and improve your health. The diet and workout plan you chose are simply methodologies to achieve that goal. If those methodologies aren’t working for you, that’s not a failure — it just means you need a new methodology. Or maybe you just need a break. Taking a break from the pursuit of your true goal is permissible. It’s only a failure if you allow it to be.

Before the holidays started, I decided I wanted to memorize the entire Sermon on the Mount (or, as my pastor likes to call it, the Teaching on the Hill) from the Gospel of Matthew. I set a daily goal of committing one verse a day to memory. I made it through the first 18 verses before my momentum petered out, and I haven’t memorized any new verses from that passage since.

I could call it a failure and give up on my project to memorize the whole sermon. Or, I could remember my true goal — to hide God’s word in my heart so I’ll always have it with me — and pick back up where I left off.

This applies to writing, as well. If I judged my success or failure on whether I hit some arbitrary word quota each day, I’d never finish a novel. But since finishing the novel is the actual goal, I always get back after it at some point — sometimes after months of no forward progress. Still, the novels get written. And that’s the main thing.

Are you making the mistake of focusing on methodology instead of purpose? What’s the true goal behind your goal? Figure that out, and it will be a lot easier to stick with it for the long haul. And if you feel like sharing, leave a comment to tell us about it.