Every year around this time I make end of the year goal-setting and personal evaluation a part of my new years eve festivities. (for last year see 2013). These are 3-4 goals I set for myself, family, education, and my organization each year and then look at them at the end of the year to see how I have done. Some of these goals I can achieve on my own (exercise, study, prayer) but others require the cooperation and involvement of others. Honestly, I rarely achieve fully more than 50% of these goals. But that has always been ok with me.
2014 was a different story. Again I set goals for myself, family, education, and organization. But in 2014 I achieved very few of them, less than 20%. Personally, I didn't blog as much as I would like and my exercise regime stayed good but weight loss and metric improvements in performance weren't achieved. Trinity didn't grow to 200 in worship as I had hoped and our small group ministry replicated itself but did not multiply.
This honesty is important. It also doesn't mean I was incompetent. I do exercise regularly and maintained my fitness levels (which is becoming more difficult as I am in my "late" 30's). Our family life was good and we had wonderful trips together and with extended family. Some important lessons were learned as well about emotional distance and space. In my call. Trinity experienced another year of growth although not what I had dreamed of. We celebrated 50 years of our children's center with wonderful events and a new playground. We moved confirmation back to Wednesday nights increasing youth involvement and activity. God has blessed us with abundant resources of time and talent as well as financial gifts. We have achieved our 3 year goal in our capital campaign and will celebrate retiring that debt this January.
But the fact remains that the 10-12 total goals I set in these 3-4 areas were not largely achieved for 2014. So what of it? Do I look at 2014 as largely a failure of improvement? On reflection one could say so. However, I have realized a truth about goals. One that no doubt others have discovered but I had to find for myself.
This truth is that if you are desiring to achieve something big in a given set of time. That BIG thing (or BHAG in Jim Collin's terminology) is going to dominate everything. In 2014 I had a BHAG that I would pass all three sections of my comprehensive exams for the PhD in Leadership Studies I am pursuing at Dallas Baptist University. Those exams were at the end of August and their study dominated the first 8 months of this year and recovery from those exams as well as writing a dissertation prospectus dominated the final 4 months. That was the BHAG for 2014. I achieved it. But as a result, not a lot of other goals got reached.
I remember as a newly ordained pastor sitting in a synod assembly listening to my new Bishop recite the priorities for the synod. When he got to priority number 11 I had this sinking feeling in my gut. Right away I knew this was not a focused community clear on their mission and purpose but a loose confederation of competing ideas and priorities. Achieving anything large and meaningful together would be, and proved to be, quite hopeless. Many small things got done. Lots of good work happened. But there was no overriding sense of purpose or unity.
This is the lesson for me of 2014. If you are trying to achieve a once in a lifetime thing: a BHAG. Everything else is going to have to take a back seat. You still must do your job, be a parent, a spouse, a child. But you must also be realistic about what else you can achieve.
So for 2015. I have one big thing: write chapters for my dissertation.
Happy New Year!