We’ve all heard it: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Say what ?! Nobody in his right mind plans to fail. Not intentionally, anyway. But many of us do fail to plan. We fail to set goals, map out what we want to accomplish in life, and strategize how we’ll go about doing it.
If you don’t shoot for something in life, then you’re not living life to its fullest. Or to put it another way, if you don’t aim for something, then you’ll be … well, aimless! — just shuffling along with no purpose and no hope. Soon you’ll start to shrivel spiritually, emotionally, and even physically.
The writer of Proverbs 29:18 teaches us that “Where there is no vision, the people perish”; so don’t keep living aimlessly. Take aim.
Once you do take aim, everything else boils down to strategy, your plan of attack. Think of a war. Great wars are won with smaller victories won in battles. Your goals will be achieved in much the same way, through the small victories and accomplishments that move you closer to winning your bigger dreams.
And indeed, achieving a truly big dream is much like waging a war, to overcome the obstacles imposed by time, resources, circumstances, and even people who don’t want to see you succeed (for various reasons). You need a plan!
Having a plan means having a strategy: a course of action; the necessary steps you’re going to take to reach your goals. For instance, getting organized (along with the other steps we’ve discussed) will enable you to live more efficiently, maximizing your valuable time, moving further along the road to fulfilling your dreams. Following a plan involves sticking to a schedule and having a routine, disciplining yourself to stay on task — to stay the course.
Keep in mind, however, that occasionally we’ll encounter roadblocks and detours: there are situations in life which are totally out of our control; and no matter how well we plan, things won’t always work out as we hoped. To paraphrase the poet Robert Burns, The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry!
When life happens, be flexible and go with the flow. Don’t allow these “interruptions” to frustrate you. Refuse to get bent out of shape. Remember, “[God] will keep in perfect peace all who trust in [Him], all whose thoughts are fixed on [Him]!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT) But afterwards, take the necessary steps to get back on track with your plans.
A big key to success is developing the discipline to return to your scheduled routine and/or outlined goals as soon as the crisis, challenge, issue or interruption is over. Part of the beauty of having a plan is being able to pick up where you left off — because you’ve mapped out your course (objectives, schedule, etc.)
As previously discussed, our Heavenly Father is a God of order, and He wants His followers to be a people of order: organized, so they can make the most of their time; having a plan, so they can fulfill the destiny to which He’s called them, as they fulfill their hopes and dreams. God is therefore actively involved in the plans we make — and He should be. He not only helps us to execute the plan, but He also guides us in formulating it! As King David wrote, “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” (Psalm 37:23 NLT)
Have a plan. Stick to the plan. But don’t be obsessed with the plan. The Lord expects us to maintain a balance. He does not want us to become obsessed with our goals and dreams; slaves marching to the ticking of a time-clock; robots blindly following the “programming” of our own intricate plans — while stepping all over the rules, people, and the desires and dictates of God.
We must never put our personal goals and ambitions before the will of God. And we must never put our plans above the needs of those around us. Living a godly and orderly life means carefully balancing our dreams and creative pursuits — the stuff that’s important to us — with spiritual issues and matters, which are important to the Creator of the Universe. If we do neglect the spiritual things, in a mad dash to reach our goals, we’ll regret it at the end. We might make it to the top, but we won’t find peace and fulfillment once we get there: “[For] what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” (Mark 8:36 NLT)
What’s the good of achieving your goals if during the process you sacrifice (upon the “alter of success”) your relationship with God? Relationships, both with loved ones and with the Lord, are what make life worthwhile. So what’s the point of reaching the top only to find yourself alone when (and if) you get there? With whom will you share your hard-won victory?Chances are, even YOU won’t be able to enjoy your accomplishments — because YOU (the wonderful person you once were) will probably no longer exist.
Like so many Hollywood celebrities who climbed to the top of the heap by turning their backs on God, sacrificing their principles, and stepping over people, you could find yourself alone and feeling hollow inside.
Or, you can avoid this haunting scenario by maintaining the proper balance: pursuing your dreams while putting the Lord first; and following a plan without forsaking friends and family.
Make your plans, but follow your dreams in God’s way. You’ll eventually find success, and when you do, you’ll still have your honor, self-respect, inner peace, and loving people with whom you can share your triumphs. Most important of all, you’ll have the approval of your Heavenly Father, who will someday speak these affirming words: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21 NIV)
Actually, we can “hear” these words everyday, as we keep our priorities straight and put God first in our lives in all things. We can also sense His pleasure when we use our time wisely (by being organized and having a plan), and with each and every tiny step forward in the pursuit of our dreams.
“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity….” (Proverbs 21:5 NLT)