Short-term goals are crucial for life

Sunday, May 20, 2012

From the beginning you are asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" That's a long-term goal. Most people don't know the answer, and you must reach many short-term goals before the ultimate one is attained anyway. How important are short-term goals?

Short-term goals are necessary at any age or time in someone's life. Babies begin by learning to eat, then walk and talk. Then there's potty training. All those goals have to be mastered before the child moves on to bigger things. Then children learn to look forward to various pleasures. One is Christmas. They can't wait for Christmas so that Santa Claus will visit and bring gifts. They later learn the true meaning and value of the holiday.

Goals keep people looking toward the future while living in the present. They provide a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It's necessary that everybody has aims to look forward to that brings them joy. Meeting a friend for lunch can be a short-term goal. One prepares for and eagerly awaits the times when he can meet his friend.

Jane never realized how important having a purpose was to a teenager. Her daughter, Sarah, asked Jane if she could go to the beach with friends. Jane knew little about the friends' families so she told Sarah no. Jane was particular about who her daughter hung out with, and she wanted to make sure that she ran with a good class of people. To Jane, a good class of people meant those who possessed good morals, were honest and believed that values were important.

After hearing Jane's negative response, Sarah became angry and asked a friend's relatives to pick her up in her automobile, and out the door she went. Jane angrily hollered as she left, "You're not going to Texas with us on our vacation." Jane didn't actually mean what she yelled, but Sarah believed her and stayed gone from home about a week. When Sarah finally returned from her escapade, she told her mother that she would not have stayed away if Jane had not threatened to bar her from the family trip. It was a hard lesson to learn but Jane realized how much going on the trip had meant to Sarah. Although one doesn't always recognize it, such short-term goals can amount to more than one can imagine, if one passionately desires the goal.

Although plans are interrupted quite often for most, you still must plan and look forward to an upcoming event or action. This can be as simple as learning to walk again for someone who's crippled or keeping a meal down for someone who's been ill. For those seldom able to leave their home, going to the grocery store can be an exciting adventure. Michael Wickett tells people that, "Life does not come to us, it comes from us."

Squashing someone's dream can become problematic. You may crush their desire to live. Short-term and long-term goals provide nourishment. You're never too old or too young to strive for a purpose.

Setting goals gives direction to life. Scripture supports goal setting, both long-term and short-term. A long-term goal is suggested when Paul speaks to the Philippians. "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14) Numerous short-term goals are necessary to accomplish that end. Luke 13:32 states: And he said to them, "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course." There was a plan of action in the passage -- a series of short-term goals.

Remember, "The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss." (Thomas Carlyle).

Keep on pushing.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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