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  • Writer's pictureJen Stone-Sexton

5 Goal Setting Steps to Achieve Results

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Do you have goals you want to accomplish but aren't sure how to take the first step? Check out these 5 Goal Setting Steps to help you achieve results!

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Don’t you sit down and estimate the cost, to see if you have enough capital to complete it? If you don’t, then when you have laid the foundation but can’t finish, all the onlookers start making fun of you and say,

‘This is the man who began to build but couldn’t finish.’

Luke 14:28-30

The New Year is like getting a fresh start. The possibility exists for the next chapter of your story to be one of transformation, delight and self-discovery. If you have not done so already, I encourage you to carve out some quiet time for yourself to dream. What are your hopes for the future? What yearnings in your heart are trying to get your attention? The ones you have kept tucked away – or denied – until the time seems right? What if now is your time? “Someday” does not exist. All we have is today. What feeds your soul land brings you joy? What do you really want? Ask the questions and dare to dream.

“Dreams give birth to change.” 1

In order for your dreams to become reality, you need a roadmap for beginning and steps you’ll take along the way. The New Year is an opportune time to set goals. A goal without a plan though is only a wish. Goals combined with implemented action steps are what make your dreams a reality. Clearly mapped out goals are a bridge between where you are and where you want to be.

There is a saying that goes, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” In other words, without a clear direction we can find ourselves drifting. When we look back many decisions, months, or years later, we often ask, “How did I get here? Drifting is dangerous because we can find ourselves in places or situations we never intended to be. Drifting does not lead us to God’s best. It leads us away from Him and His best for us.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 (CBJ)

Our daily habits determine our direction. Our daily habits develop our character. And our daily habits reflect our priorities. Daily habits set with intention and goals we want to reach can make all the difference between growing and moving forward or getting stuck in a rut. A great definition of a rut by Earl Nightingale is, “a grave with the ends knocked out.”

{my graphics are inspirational gifts for you}

In Luke 14, Jesus tells us clearly and poignantly to consider the cost. Consider the cost of following Him. Consider the cost of living for ourselves and ultimately rejecting Him. Consider the cost of building a tower – a house – a habit – a conscious – a character - a relationship – a career – a ministry – a life. In order to consider the cost, we need not only facts and figures, as well as faith, we need to have a plan that is mapped out.

Goals consist of a plan that is mapped out. In order to grow we must be intentional. Intentional with our time, energy, attitudes, resources, finances, habits, priorities, and purpose. Having specific goals gives us clarity and direction as well as a time-frame for realization. Goals can be set in every area of our lives. Goals can be small ones within each day, week, and month in order to achieve bigger ones over longer periods of time. Goals help us focus on what is important instead of drifting into dangerous water.

Here are 5 Goal Setting Steps to help you achieve results:

Step 1 – Develop an Eternal Perspective.

When we live with the mindset of an eternal perspective, then we realize that our thoughts, attitudes, words, decisions, actions, habits and goals matter. Each of us will give a personal account of our lives to God. We are not just living for ourselves, but unto The Lord. Eternity exists beyond this one life we are given to live here on earth. Paul says in Romans 14:10-12 (NASB):

But as for you, why do you judge your brother or sister?

Or you as well, why do you regard your brother or sister with contempt?

For we will all appear before the judgment seat of God. For it is written:

“As I live, says the Lord, to Me every knee will bow, And every tongue will give praise to God.”

So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

In addition, as adopted sons and daughters of God, we each have a God-given purpose for our lives, spiritual gifts to build up and encourage others, and a specific calling. “God has specifically designed a place of service to fit our personality, gifts, and abilities. He also equips and strengthens us to be able to meet the challenges of that calling. The believer’s responsibility is to obey with joy.” Dr. Charles Stanley says in a message about the challenge to end well.2 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

I like how The Message version reads:

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. Ephesians 2:7-10 (MSG)

Step 2 – Invite God into the Process

From a young age, I have been a goal setter, type A personality and ambitious achiever. For much of my life goals were determined based on how much I wanted something. Whether that was health and fitness, a diploma, job, level of income, or career. I would make a decision to go after something, spend time, effort, and energy to achieve it. As I was in the fast lane looking forward, I’d glance in the rear-view mirror and ask God to bless my decision or efforts. I’m also one who would try to assemble an item or figure out something new and then consult the instructions when my efforts didn’t produce the desired results. I’d roll my eyes and laughingly say, “When all else fails, read the instructions!”

Experience and age have taught me that I save time and energy by consulting the instructions first. God’s Word is our instruction manual for life. Everything we need to know to live successfully is provided for us through His Word. I’ve learned to seek Him first and then set the goals. I’ve learned to invite Him into the work that I do every day. As a loving Father, He wants the best for me and for you. God alone is sovereign, and He alone knows what is ahead and can guide and direct our plans and goals.

Your Word is lamp for my feet and a light on my path.

Psalm 119:105 (CJB)

{my graphics are inspirational gifts for you}

Whatever it is you want to achieve, your decision to invest time in God’s Word and getting to know Him more intimately through His Word, prayer, and listening to His voice, will be one of the greatest investments you could ever make.

Step 3 – Cultivate Faithfulness.

Faithfulness and consistency are different sides of the same coin. They go together and you don’t have one without the other. As a fruit of the Spirit, faithfulness is cultivated in the rich soil of a heart fully surrendered to Jesus Christ. (Galatians 5:22-23) Fruit grows from the branches as a result of the source – a healthy tree deeply rooted. The fruit of the Spirit is evidenced in our lives as we are connected to and grow in the power source of that fruit, which is Jesus Christ. What makes faithfulness sustainable is being in close fellowship with God.

Someone who is trustworthy in a small matter is also trustworthy in large ones, and someone who is dishonest in a small matter is also dishonest in large ones.” Luke 16:10 (CJB)

When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required. Luke 12:48b (NLT). The Message puts it this way, “Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!

Jesus is clear in the verses above and in the parable of the talents in Luke 19:12-26 that if we are faithful in little we will be faithful in much. Oftentimes in our instant culture we want the much while overlooking the little. How we do What we do matters. How we do things when no one is watching matters. What we do when no one is looking matters. How you cook the meal, fold the laundry, bandage the skinned knee, read the bedtime story, speak to your spouse, hold your child, show affection, make the bed, maintain organization, finish the project, do your work, cut the grass, arrange the flowers, invest your money, balance the books, take care of aging parents, meet with a friend, serve with your gifts…it all matters.

There is a saying that goes, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” I didn’t particularly like that saying when I first heard it. Over time, though, this statement has proven true many times over and it has helped me become aware of areas I needed to grow in, instead of fooling myself. If there is one area you are not faithful in, there will other areas where that tendency is revealed. If there is one area you are inconsistent in, there will be other areas where inconsistency shows up.

As a Life Coach, one of the subjects that often comes up with clients is consistency, especially when we are talking about goals and developing new habits. Clients often get frustrated when they determine to have a new habit then struggle to implement it or keep up with it due to life’s interruptions. Habits are not developed out of force of will. Habits are developed with consistency.

For example, let’s say you’ve decided that you want to incorporate healthy movement into your life this year by walking 30 minutes a day 5 days a week. First you make the commitment and decide to follow through, no matter what. No matter the weather, the distractions, the demands on your time, or that you don’t “feel like it.” Typically we make up rules in our head, such as “I have to walk on Monday, Wednesday, Friday” or “I’ll start at the beginning of a new month” or “those 30 minutes have to be one chunk of time.” However, 30 minutes could be split into two 15-minute chunks of time. Or three 10-minute chunks of time. What if you put forth effort, but you only get a 30-minute walk in 3 days instead of 5? Instead of feeling like you have fallen short of the goal, look for progress. It takes at least 21 days to develop a new habit. The consistency is more important than the duration of time when developing new habits. Let me say that again:

Consistency is more important than the duration of time when developing new habits. If you want results, cultivate faithfulness and consistency.

Step 4 – Map out a Plan.

The next step is the goal-setting process. I have found it helpful to set goals in these seven major areas: Faith, Family, Fitness, Finances, Friendships, Focus and Future. For example:

Faith could include daily habits for spiritual growth, corporate worship, service, or learning about your spiritual gifts and ways to express them in your life and relationships.

Family could include marriage, parenting, and relationships with siblings, parents, or other family members, as well as how you want to spend your time together as a family or projects you might want to undertake together.

Fitness could include mental such as your thoughts and attitudes, emotional such as your responses, words, and boundaries, spiritual such as time with The Lord, and physical such as the food you eat and the exercise you engage in.

Finances could include your work, income, budget, giving, savings, investments, travel, vacations, etc.

Friendships could include investing time in established friendships, developing new ones, and perhaps letting go of toxic ones.

Focus could include specific areas you want to focus on this year. What top 3 things do you want to make changes in? These would be your focus goals.

Future could include your long-range goals in any area.

Once you have determined your goals in these areas, the next step is mapping out a plan to reach your determined goal. The acronym S.M.A.R.T. is helpful to use in giving legs and feet to your plan.

Ø Specific - simple, sensible, significant.

Ø Measurable - how you will know that you have accomplished this goal, a tangible result?

Ø Attainable - something you are capable of doing.

Ø Relevant - how important is this goal to you and to your success?

Ø Time bound - time-based, time/cost limited.

Keep in mind that we often overestimate what we can accomplish in one year, and underestimate what we can accomplish in three years. As you write out your goals you are getting clear on what is important to you and what you really want. Be aware that while you are working toward your goal, the time-frame may change. Be willing to adjust accordingly. While you may have many goals in each area, choose the top three that you want to focus on first. Once you have accomplished your goal or incorporated a new habit successfully, then choose another one to three to focus on.

As you are mapping out your plan be willing to be flexible. As you are considering your schedule, seek to build margin into your life, instead of packing it full. Full of activity, noise, commitments, work, entertainment and distractions. By building margin in your life you create space to hear God speak to you. God longs to walk with you every moment of the day. He longs to show you His love, and to lead and guide you in the best way. It is difficult to hear God’s voice in all the noise. Listening requires us to slow our pace, carve out some moments of solitude, and create space hear His voice.

Direct my footsteps according to Your Word; let no sin rule over me.

Psalm 119:133

Step 5 – Harness the Power of Accountability.

Ask for help and accountability. This is a key step to realizing your goals. Yet it is one that most people tend to ignore or think they just don’t need. We think we can figure it out on our own, muscle our way through, muster enough self-discipline to keep our new commitments, habits or routines. By ignoring the power of accountability we sabotage our own success. Even Jesus was accountable to The Father.

You have not because you ask not.

James 4:2

Everyone who is serious about learning something new, improving, advancing and growing personally or professionally, harnesses the power of accountability. In fitness, health, music, sports, business, and life, coaches and mentors exist to provide support to individuals who want to grow in any area.

{my graphics are inspirational gifts for you}

By implementing these 5 Goal Setting Steps of Developing an Eternal Perspective, Inviting God into the Process, Cultivating Faithfulness, Mapping Out a Plan and Harnessing the Power of Accountability you will be on your way to achieving the results you desire.

If you would like guidance with mapping out your goals, accountability to keep you on track, and support with overcoming the obstacles to accomplishing them, I would love to come alongside you through results based coaching. To learn more, you can schedule HERE for a no-obligation Create a Life You Love Discovery Session.

Click HERE for Your Free Flourish Guide!

Editor's Note:

This blog is by Freedom to Flourish Life Coaching Founder and Christian Life Coach, Jen Stone-Sexton. She is currently accepting new clients. You can learn more about Jen here.

Jennifer C. Stone-Sexton © 2023 Freedom to Flourish, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

All graphics created by Morgan Howard or Jen Stone-Sexton © 2023 Freedom to Flourish, LLC.

Our Graphics are downloadable gifts for You to enjoy!



1 - Sarah Ban Breathnach © 1995, Simple Abundance, January 1. (New York, Warner Books, Inc.,) 2 Dr. Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministries, Inc., In Touch devotional, December 2022.

Photo Credits:

Cover and Photo 1 by A. L. on Unsplash | MAP Photo 2 by Oxana V on Unsplash | Photo 3 by Ben White on Unsplash | Photo 4 by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash | Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash


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