Formulating Specific Goals

Formulating Specific Goals

Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do.
–Ephesians 5:15 PHILLIPS

After you identify your specific purpose–your reason for living, why God created you–then you develop objectives that will help you meet that overall purpose. The final step is to formulate your goals. Goals are the vehicles by which we transform our objectives into reality. Now this is where a lot of people get mixed up, and quite frankly it’s the reason so many people live aimless lives. They don’t have clearly defined goals.

A goal is a desired accomplishment that is easily measured by time and performance. For example, I might say, “I want to know the Bible better.” That’s an objective, but it’s not a goal. A goal would be specific: “I want to read one chapter of the Bible every day beginning today.” Or maybe you would say, “I want to be thinner.” That’s not a goal; that’s an objective. A goal would be a specific accomplishment: “I want to lose five pounds by April 30.” Anytime you’re formulating a goal, remember that a goal answers three questions:

  1. What do I want to happen? (accomplishment)
  2. How will I know it happened? (measurement)
  3. When do I want this to happen? (starting date or completion date)

Why are we talking about goals? There is no more effective way to be a disciple of Jesus Christ than by discovering His unique purpose for your life and living out that purpose. That is why God left us here: to fulfill His unique purpose for us. I love the way Ephesians 5:15-17 reads in the J. B. Phillips paraphrase: “Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. Don’t be vague but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God.” The apostle Paul was saying, “Know your purpose.”

In his book “The Deeper Life,” Daniel Henderson wrote, “I’ve heard it said many times you’re not really ready to live until you know what you want written on your tombstone.” If you were to die today, would those who know you the best at your funeral be able to stand up and say, “This is the purpose for which he or she lived”? Is it clear to you why you’re here?

When this life comes to an end, will you look back and conclude that you have lived well and significantly? The great tragedy in life is not death; the great tragedy in life is life without purpose.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Purpose over Aimlessness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

Daniel Henderson, “The Deeper Life” (Ada, MI: Bethany House, 2014), 65.

Scripture quotations marked PHILLIPS are taken from The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips copyright © 1960, 1972 J. B. Phillips. Administered by The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England. Used by permission.