Foolproof the Vision Board: 4 Tips to Increase the Likelihood of Reaching our 2019 Goals

Several days ago, my friend reached out to invite several of us to a Vision Board Party. Familiar with the idea from numerous social media posts on my timeline, I wanted to immediately say yes, but felt a tugging to slow down with my response. I responded with "I don't have any vision yet so I'm not sure" LOL. I was being honest though. A little more discourse happened, and then I elaborated, "I will probably need to be prayerful and maybe fast to make sure my vision is God's vision for my life." As a person who's equal parts Dreamer and Planner, my Achille's heel is that, with the right intentions, I often have lofty dreams with the foresight to carry them out flawlessly, yet they may or may not be something God authorized me to do.

Don't get me wrong- this is, by no means, a "Vision Board Bashing" post. In fact, I ended the conversation accepting the invitation, affirming that I will "just focus my vision board on what I plan to do in January and February based on where I went off track in these last few months in 2018."
Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets, so one may easily read it (Habakkuk 2:2).
Having and following the right vision for your life is tantamount to few other decisions in your life. The following 4 guidelines, in sequential order, are what I'm using to set and stay on track in this season.

1. Pray for direction from God. 

The entire Israelite community left ... moving from one place to the next according to the Lord’s command (Exodus 17:1)

This verse was perfectly nestled in my Advent bible study today. What resonates is the idea that the Israelites had left one place (Egypt) and were headed to the Promised Land, but they were in the wilderness, having to endure a process of unlearning old habits and mindsets in exchange for dependence and trust in God. This verse expresses that their movements toward the place they envisioned arriving at were based on God's leading. 

If you know me, you know that I am a Planner, by nature, but this year, God has taught me to hold tighter to His hand while having a looser grip on my own plans. I can admit- I have failed more moments than I've succeeded. When I plan everything out, however; I become rigid, inflexible, and easily disappointed when things don't go my way. This often can be more of a setback than if I spend more time seeking God's direction daily and taking the small steps He reveals, understanding that He sees the big picture in ways that I never will. 

If we're not careful, we will fall into a trap of subconsciously setting goals for ourselves based on secular mindsets or what we've consumed through "reality tv" or family's preferences or  social media or whatever else influences us. Yes- having XYZ accomplished by 30 seems like a great idea, but in retrospect, what if there's something God wants to develop in you by you NOT reaching point X or Z until 32? (Preaching that to myself). Don't miss out on the tools God is trying to add to your toolbox through a development process solely because you're hastily setting goals and setting timelines independent of Him. You never know what, from this season, you'll need in the next. That's why you have to be discerning in setting God-given vision, even if what He's telling you seems unfamiliar or illogical.In Exodus 13 (verse below), God intentionally did not send the Israelites on a familiar escape route from their enemies because He knew at the first sign of danger, if they were on a route that was familiar and comfortable, they would prematurely abort the process He had for them. Thousands of years later- we are the exact same.

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them along the road to the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearby; for God said, "The people will change their minds and return to Egypt if they face war (Exodus 13:17)
So before you get that glitter or glue out for your vision board, have you stopped to ask God where He wants you focused in 2019? Don't become your own barrier to success by adopting goals that God never intended for you to step toward. (CC: I Can't Even Handle What I'm Begging God For)

2. Reflect and use the action steps that have helped you be most successful in reaching goals before.

If we're honest, metaphorically speaking, sometimes we know the play and God throws us the ball, but we fumble it. Most times, failure to achieve a goal that God has given me isn't because I lacked clarity on what God wanted me to do; it's that I failed to take the right and consistent action steps to reach the destination.

This year, my recommendation, for you AND me is to take some time to ponder...

  • What goals did I set in 2018 that I actually achieved? What were the daily, weekly, and/or monthly decisions I made that contributed to that success?
  • What goals did I set in 2018 and NOT achieve? What decisions contributed to that lack of success?
  • What internal or external distractions make obtaining your goals difficult? What might you do to counteract those inclinations to be distracted?
  • What adjustments to your daily, weekly, or monthly schedule might be necessary to prioritize reaching the goals God wants you to set?

3. Commit in community. 

This year, I lost 8 lbs (coupled with the proud development of Popeye-like arm muscles) in 3 months. What did I do? Get into community by having accountability partners. My friend, Tabitha and I went to the gym 3-4x a week, and the days I didn't want to go (which was often), she yelled at me via text and made me get my tail to the gym. I'm grateful for it! Also, my mom and I started meal prepping and counting calories together. All of this to say- statistically, you are about 65%-95% more likely to reach goals in life when you "commit in community.

This is why creating a Vision Board with others can be so powerful. Gather with your trusted friends and share what God has instructed each of you to do this year. Share your answers to the above point #2. Ask for accountability and let it be reciprocal. Each of my friends in my circle knows my flaws just as much as my strengths. They know I procrastinate, overcommit, am inconsistent, and when I'm most likely to make emotional, impulsive decisions. I give them free reign to tell me about myself, refocus me, etc., and that's a mutual responsibility.

Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed (Proverbs 15:22).

4. Establish times to check in, reflect, and refine your steps and progress. 
Assessing 2018, for me, I started off poorly January-April, was most on target from April- August, and then fell off after September. All of that to say, it's naive for me to think that setting a goal in January will actually be achieved without consistently taking time to check in, reflect, and refine my action steps. Seriously, I can't even accomplish my daily to do lists LOL. I am notorious for having an idea, putting it into action for a few days, and then getting distracted and unintentionally abandoning it. Typically, the Lord prompts me to check in but by the time I actually intentionally check in, so much time has been lost. Seriously- I have items from early 2017 that I need to do in 2019 because I have been distracted from them.

What parameters might better support you in following through with the goals you're setting now?

  • Set your vision board in MULTIPLE places. This may mean having one large board in a place you visit regularly, but keeping post it reminders on mirrors, your phone's lock screen, car dashboards, office desks, etc. The more you see your vision, the less you're able to forget about it. Set time periods to change out your post its so you're reflecting and refreshing the vision
  • Have a dedicated accountability partner. Sit down and establish a partnership agreement. What role and responsibilities do you need your partner to have in your life? What will be the frequency of your check ins about your goals (Recommendation: weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly)? What will be the method of check ins? (Text? audio call? video call? face-to-face?)
  • Schedule quarterly check ins NOW. My phone calendar saves my life LOL. I am quick to put recurring events on my calendar. RIGHT NOW, set a "Reflect and/or Refine Progress Towards the Vision" event for the 1st of every month (or however frequent you desire). Make sure to set the event to repeat AND give an alert.

    PS- Have you ever tried a habit tracking app like "Done"? It lets you set goals, determine the frequency you want reminders, and keeps up with how you're doing. I've used it for a week and managed to finally start waking up early and going to bed earlier because of it.

For 2019, my goals aren't necessarily any different from 2018 or 2017. In summer of 2017, I made a "vision board" (yellow post its) with 7 items I heard God tell me to focus on. For the last year and a half, I have begun some, abandoned some, added distractors, and repeat. This year, I'm beginning by revisiting those 7 assignments God has purposed me to do, in this season, and using each of the tips above to ensure another year doesn't pass where I've spend time OUTSIDE of the vision and purpose God has put me on earth to accomplish.

What vision are you carrying into or refining in 2019?

God, we love you! You created us and desired a relationship with us. We are on earth to glorify you through our existence and being as gratitude for your redemption in our lives. We don't just owe you some of us or some of our goals and ambitions, we owe you ALL of ourselves. There is so much that can get in our way and distract us from walking in purpose, but I pray that won't be the case for 2019. God, I ask for clarity in purpose for every reader. Discernment so that they can set goals in alignment with your will for their lives and not their hand-concocted plan of success devoid of You. God, we know that where there's no anointing from You, we forfeit a grace and covering over our steps, so keep us focused and clinging to You. We love you. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.