#254: The Most Important Goal You Forgot to Set

Happy New Year! 2017 is in our rear-view mirror. 2018 lies ahead, all shiny and new, ready to be explored.

Goal Rest

It is the time of year when many of us obsessive-compulsives set new goals for ourselves. Our goals have us reaching higher, climbing faster, and going where no man has gone before. We set goals for our careers, our relationships, our physical fitness, and a plethora of other things.

But most of us forget to set one important goal. And this goal is critical. Because failing at this goal almost always causes us to fail at the career goals, the relationship goals, the fitness goals, and all the others.

Here’s How Things Usually Go

We spend a few minutes reflecting on the year just past. We determine to make the next year the best year ever by setting new goals that represent all our dreams and aspirations. Once the goals are memorialized in our new productivity planners, we put our heads down and get to work. We charge ahead. We give every goal 110% effort.

We reach higher. Climb faster. And go where no man has gone before.

And then suddenly, without warning, we’re lost. We’re exhausted and completed stressed out. Amidst a forest of competing demands, we can no longer see the goal off in the distance. We may not even remember why we set the goal in the first place!

We give up and commit to doing better with our goals next year! And all this happens by the end of January!

What happened?

We forgot to set the most important goal!

The Most Important Goal

When God finished the work of creation what did He do? He rested! This theme of rest occurs throughout the Scripture. God ordained special celebrations when His people were to abstain from all work to rest and worship Him. Even the land was allowed to rest a full year every seven years!

As we jump to the New Testament Jesus continues to underscore the importance of rest. Preaching to the crowds, Jesus said,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Who, these days, is not weary and burdened? Jesus invited all us who are weary and burdened to come to Him, and in Him, He promised rest for our souls.

Easy to say, quite a bit harder to live out in our daily lives. We don’t have rest training in school, and our employers certainly don’t offer weekend seminars on resting!

But if we want to be the people God designed us to be, we need to do what He has designed us to do.

I love the way author Gwen Smith defines the acronym R.E.S.T. in her article, “God’s Best Requires Rest.”

  • Reflect
  • Engage
  • Surrender
  • Trust


Gwen says, “When you reflect on God, you better reflect God.” The truth of the matter is, most of us are so busy we don’t spend much time outside of church reflecting on the magnificence of our Creator!


Engage with God on a personal level. Pray. Meditate on God’s Word. Paul said if we tell God about everything, then He will give us peace (Philippians 4:6-7).


Surrender your will to God’s will. Remember what Jesus said as He prayed in the Garden of Eden? He said, “…not my will but thy will be done (Luke 22:42)! On His way to the cross, Jesus remained completely surrendered to the Father’s will.


Trust God. Life can be messy, dangerous, disappointing, and terrifying. But we must trust God’s promise, “…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Establish Your R.E.S.T. Goal

Get out your planner, or wherever you have your goals written down, and add a R.E.S.T. goal.

And just to get you pointed in the right direction consider the following:

  • Daily: 30 minutes of rest. I know this one is hard. You’re not used to doing it. You tell yourself you don’t have time. But you need to make time! Take 30 minutes every day to rest. Go for a walk in a park or at the beach. Spend some time thinking about God’s grace in your life. Decompress from all the other stress in your life!
  • Weekly: Sabbath of rest. I checked, and Commandment number 4 is still in the Bible (Exodus 20:8). So, take one day a week and rest in the Lord. Keep the day Holy to the Lord. Don’t trade company email, major housework, or remodeling projects for rest. R.E.S.T. one day. It’s part of God’s plan for us.
  • Quarterly: Two days of rest. Plan a weekend away. No work. Shut off all your electronic devices. Take your Bible and maybe a notepad. Or maybe a good Christian book. Practice R.E.S.T.
  • Annually: A full week of rest. Schedule it. Make it happen. Go somewhere. Explore God’s magnificent creation. Go on walks. Get away from work and the stresses that surround you at home. Reflect. Engage. Surrender. Trust.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How do you practice R.E.S.T.? What ideas can you share that have worked for you?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?


Category: Personal Development | Priorities





#248: Gratitude is Way More Than an Attitude

It is Thanksgiving week here in America. A week in which many of us take a few days of vacation, come together with family, eat too much turkey and stuffing, and perhaps watch a football game on television.

Gratitude Attitude

But this is not how it always was.

Thanksgiving started back in 1621 when the Pilgrims gathered together to thank God for His provenance and blessing in their lives.

Our focus on Thanksgiving certainly has changed.

When I was younger, we used to celebrate Thanksgiving in schools with children dressed in handmade costumes reenacting that first Thanksgiving (including the prayers).

Television sitcoms portrayed families gathering around the Thanksgiving table and praying as they gave thanks to God.

Not to be left out, Hollywood produced full-length movies celebrating Thanksgiving. There was A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving.

Today, Thanksgiving is just another holiday sandwiched between Halloween and the real main retailer event, Christmas.

But is that all there is to it? Is it just a day where we permit ourselves to grab another helping of mashed potatoes and another piece of pumpkin pie before we curl up on the couch for a food coma nap?

Or is it time to shift our focus once again and spend time thanking God for what He has given us?

And if so, in what way should our gratitude toward God come to life?

I’d like to propose gratitude toward God is way more than an attitude.

Gratitude Is a Decision Coupled to an Action

When Jesus cured ten lepers of their disease, one of them turned back glorifying God (decision) and fell on his face giving thanks (action).

“Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him” (Luke 17:15-16).

Gratitude Draws Us Closer to God

James, writing to the Christians throughout the land admonished them saying God opposed the proud but gives grace to the humble.

“…God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Gratitude Is an Act of Humility

Continuing, James reminds Christians to be humble because God exalts the humble.

“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:10).

Gratitude is God’s Will for Us

Writing to the Thessalonians, Paul said giving thanks to God is God’s will for us.

“in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Yes, it is vital that we be thankful to God by expressing our gratitude to Him. But our gratitude is far more than an attitude. It is a decision coupled with action. It is an act of humility that draws us closer to God. And most important, gratitude is God’s will.

So, this Thanksgiving let’s celebrate God’s provenance and His blessings. Let’s not forget that our gratitude toward God is way more than an attitude!

Many Thanks to Pastor Chris Brown of North Coast Church in Vista whose sermon, “The Nine Guys Who Missed Thanksgiving” gave me the idea and foundation for this week’s blog.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What does Thanksgiving mean to you and your family? Is your gratitude to God more than an attitude of thanksgiving?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?


Category: Personal Development | Priorities

#202: Resolutions Are a Complete Waste of Time!

And So Are Most Goals...

Resolutions are a complete waste of time. And for that matter, so are most goals we set for ourselves!


If you’ve followed me for at least a year, this proclamation probably comes as a surprise since I’ve written about goals here and just last week here. Don’t worry; I am not against setting goals. I do it for myself every year and have for many years. But they have to be the right kind of goals!

Resolutions are a waste of time because of the 62% of American who set resolutions, 25% give up by the end of the first week! A full third of people give up in only two weeks!

Those that set goals are no better. A whopping 92% fail at whatever goal they set!

Why aren’t more of us more successful at achieving our goals? The answer, I think, is that we usually set the wrong kind of goals.

Michael Hyatt identified three kinds of goals: goals in the comfort zone, goals in the discomfort zone, and goals in the delusional zone.

1) Comfort zone goals are ones you know you can achieve. Nothing truly meaningful happens in the comfort zone. I bet some the goals people report achieving were right smack dab in the middle of the comfort zone.

2) Discomfort zone goals are goals that will stretch you. You may not know how you will achieve them, but achieving them will make a big impact in your life.

3) Delusional zone goals are the goals that are never going to happen, and you should know it! I have never played a round of golf scoring under 100, so a goal to play on the senior tour is downright delusional.

Goals that will make a difference in your life and mine are not the comfort zone or delusional zone goals. The big difference in our lives will always come from achieving discomfort zone goals. Life changing goals are somewhere between the comfort zone, “I got this” and the delusional zone, “You got to be smoking something.”

SMART Goals are the Best Goals

The SMART goal acronym has been around in business circles for a while, but if you are unfamiliar with it, it stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

  • Specific. A goal to “lose weight” is not specific. How will you know if you have succeeded? A goal to “Lose ten pounds” is specific.
  • Measurable. A goal to “lower my golf score” is not specific enough and it doesn’t quantify success. Is a lower score of one stroke success, or is a lower score by ten strokes success?
  • Achievable. A goal for me to play professional baseball is not achievable (anyone who saw me play high school ball would agree). A goal to “lose 100-lbs. in 30 days” is specific and measurable but it is not achievable.
  • Relevant. A goal that is relevant to me is one that will support the accomplishment of other goals, or at a minimum, not distract from your ability to achieve other important goals.
  • Time-bound. A goal with a deadline has a sense of urgency. Without a deadline, a goal could go on forever and never be accomplished.

Accountability and the Why of My 2017 Goals

Along with establishing SMART goals, another aspect of people who are more successful in achieving their goals is to have an accountability partner; someone or several people who can hold you accountable for your progress. Once I’ve established my 2017 goals, I will share them with a couple of people I trust who will hold me accountable for my progress.

The final aspect of successfully increasing the rate of goal success is to know your “why.” Your “why” ties you to your goal. I didn’t achieve my weight goal last year because I lost track of why I wanted to lose the weight. If you don’t know and internalize your “why” you are doomed. This year once I have written out my SMART goals I will include a statement that reinforces the “why” of each goal. This will help remind me of why I set each goal when I get into a slump and feel my motivation waning.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. If you set goals for yourself which zone are your goals in? Do you set SMART goals? Do you know the “why” of each goal?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

Category: Personal Development | Priorities

#201: Key Learning from My After-Action Review

There is a Chinese proverb that loosely translates, “You must look to where you have been to see where you are going.” The proverb is about a man seated in a rowboat who looks where he has been to row the boat to where he wants to go.

After-Action Review

I love this image of looking where you’ve been as a guide where you are going.

The military calls a review of the past an “After-Action Review” (AAR). The purpose of an AAR is to analyze what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better.

As the year ends, I began the After-Action Review for my 2016 goals.

Here are my original 6-goals for 2016

  1. Achieve weight goal of 200 lbs. by 6/30/16. OK, so I got close on this one. I finally settled in bouncing between 205 and 208-lbs for the last 6-months. I made it through Halloween’s candy fest, Thanksgiving, and Christmas without gaining weight, so that is a major win for me. Considering my exercise routine, I’m surprised more weight hasn’t come off, but my clothes all fit better, so I’m happy about that. My diet during the day is very clean and well-balanced. What kills me is the evening primetime “snacking hours.”
  2. Take one long and two mini-vacations by 12/31/16. Man, I really missed on this one! My plan was to convince my bride to take a spring and fall vacation, but I’m not as good a salesman as I thought. She and I got away for just one vacation, and that wasn’t until fall. I did manage to take time off work when my family came to visit on and off for about three weeks, but my real goal of getting away wasn’t met.
  3. Read through the Bible by 12/31/16. This was a no-brainer. I read through the Bible as I edited and expanded my Bible Study notes from last year. I completed the project by May, and my notes ended up at 908 pages. Can you call 908 pages “notes”? If you want to see what 908 pages of Bible study notes looks like visit my other website, http://biblestudydaily.org/ .
  4. Read ten books by 12/31/16. I killed this one! I finished reading 21 books through the course of the year, and I am so glad I did! I am convinced reading helps keep my mind sharp, it helps me be a better writer, and I got a ton of ideas for my blog topics.
  5. Attend 1-Day Business Breakthrough (Schedule TBD). This goal had to be modified. I never did hear about this conference being scheduled, so I opted for two other conferences. They were both outstanding! I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit in August, and the Faith@Work Summit in October. I’ll attend both of them again if at all possible.
  6. Develop Inspired Leadership Minute Video by 06/30/16. I nailed this one! My plan was to release one 2-3-minute video each week focused on a single Proverb from the Bible and how it relates to us as leaders. I batch produced these 13 at a time and hired an editor to produce the videos for me. They were released weekly during the July – September quarter. I did the same thing in September for the October-December quarter. I believe in the power of video, but I am not convinced I have found the right formula. I will take the first three months of 2017 off to evaluate and possibly develop a new format.

During the year, I made the decision to add one goal to my list:

  1. Create a Genesis – Revelation Chronological Bible Study by 12/31/16. This goal is a multi-part effort. I had to rearrange all 908 pages of my Bible Study notes into chronological order. Each day’s reading needed to be posted onto the http://biblestudydaily.org/ website and scheduled for release throughout the year. All the notes were rearranged in chronological order by July and uploaded to the website in December.

The Most Important Key Learning

Part of my frustration from 2015 was I set too many goals that required far too much time. I just couldn’t do it all. Plus, I don’t like saying “no,” and that caused me to say “yes” to a couple of projects that distracted me from my main goals.

Overall, I feel much better about the goals I achieved this year. I didn’t say “yes” to any new outside projects. I also had a much shorter list of goals in 2016. These two factors allowed me to be far more focused on the goals I did establish.

The final, and perhaps most important, piece of key learning this year is to understand the “why” of each goal. I answered the question, “Why is this goal important to me?” I found the closer I was connected to the “why” of a particular goal the more passionate I was in seeing it through to completion.

From this admission, you can probably ascertain that I was far less passionate about losing the last few pounds of weight than my other goals. I still want to work on losing more weight next year but it’s clear to be successful I will need to be more focused on my “why”!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you set annual goals for yourself? If so, how do you think about evaluating your progress?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?


Category: Personal Development | Priorities

#149: 3 Reasons I Failed Miserably at Achieving My Goals This Year

And 5 Things I'll Do Differently Next Year

True confession time, I failed miserably at achieving my goals for 2015.  As it turns out I am not alone.

Goal, Resolution, Goals

According to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology , 62% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions at least occasionally. How many are successful in achieving their resolution? A whopping, mid-blowing 8% succeed. That means 92% of people who make New Year’s Resolutions fail to achieve their goal!

To make matters worse, 24% make the same resolutions over and over every year and never succeed—they fail every time!! It’s the very definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different outcome!

As bad as that is, their research suggests that people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than people who don’t make explicit resolutions! You kind of feel bad for the people who don’t even make resolutions—they don’t have much of a chance to achieve their goals!

My Goals Report Card

Actually I didn’t fail completely, I did achieve some of my goals. I established nine goals for 2015. Here’s my report card:

  • I achieved my personal development goal of reading through the Bible.
  • I achieved my relational goal by taking three vacations with my family.
  • I’ve almost completed my goal to read 12 books. I actually finished 11 and am part way through two others.
  • I failed miserably at my goal of losing the last 8 pounds I needed to lose, and instead gained back weight I lost earlier, so now I have twice as far to go this year!
  • I didn’t achieve my goals to double website traffic, triple podcast traffic, or quadruple my blog subscribers, though I did make substantial progress on each.
  • I didn’t complete a new lead magnet for my website.
  • I cancelled one goal about developing products for sale on the website.

The analytical part of me doesn’t celebrate the victory of a goal completed as long as there are goals that didn’t get completed. I naturally look at the ‘fails’ to see what went wrong.

What went wrong

First, there is a lack of focus. Having nine goals across personal, relational, and vocational spheres was too much. I can’t focus on that many goals with competing demands at once.

Second, while the effort to achieve each individual goal was reasonable enough, the combined workload was beyond my capacity. My eyes, as grandma used to say, were bigger than my stomach.

Third, I made the mistake of taking on another piece of work early in the year without thinking about how it would impact my ability to achieve the goals I had already established. This extra work took several hours a day seven days a week all year long. Once the commitment was made this work superseded work on all my other goals.

What I’ll do differently this next year

  • As I consider each individual goal I will estimate the amount of time each will take so that I don’t exceed my capacity. I couldn’t have finished all the work in these nine goals if I had worked twice as many hours!
  • I will leave a significant margin in my work plan for unexpected opportunities. I had overbooked my capacity so much there was no margin.
  • I will limit the number of goals I establish to the ones that will make the biggest difference.
  • I will evaluate my progress more frequently, and make needed course corrections. This year I established my written goals, but didn’t look at them frequently enough to ensure I was staying on track.
  • I will be more disciplined in evaluating the opportunities that arise during the year. If they don’t align what God has called me to do the answer is an easy, “no.” If they don’t contribute to the completion of an existing goal, the answer again is “no.” Saying “yes” to good things that didn’t help me accomplish my goals is what got me into a deep hole this year that I couldn’t climb out of.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Do you establish written goals? If you are achieving your goals what are you doing that makes you successful? Do you have any other advice/tips to help me as I consider establishing goals for next year?


Category: Personal Development | Priorities


#093: Nine Keys to Fulfilling Christianity

I was in a neighborhood restaurant with my family recently when a framed poster caught my eye. It was from the Coca-Cola Company and pictured a Navy crewman serving his buddies Coca-Cola on board a destroyer during World War II. The caption read, “Any place, anytime, the pause that refreshes.”

Refreshed, Refreshes

As I stood there reading this phrase for the fourth time I suddenly realized that in our hectic, go-go lives we seldom take a break to refresh ourselves; to think about how we are living our lives, about our Christian walk, and whether we are centered in God’s will.

Of course, we could refresh ourselves “anyplace, anytime” but you know what happens; you get busy, and “anyplace, anytime” never happens.

We need to take a moment every once in a while to review ourselves in light of God’s unique plan for us, and make sure that we are still on track. So let’s take a moment now to “pause and refresh.” When you are done, if you want to learn more about developing a fulfilling, authentic relationship with God read Bill Hybels’ book, Honest To God? Becoming An Authentic Christian.

Continue Reading »

#081: Understanding our Primary Priority and Making Decisions

Each and every one of us is resource constrained. Even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are resource constrained—maybe not by money, but certainly by time. We each have the same 168 hours per week. Even Bill and Warren, with all their billions, can’t buy more time!

Priority, Colossians 1:10

No leader I know has a shortage of work that comes their way, and committing to one thing necessarily means you cannot do something else. The mere act of choosing what project to work on is an act of setting priorities.

Sometimes that choice is an easy one. One project is clearly better than another. But what do you do when several competing projects are before you and they are all good? You can’t do them all—you don’t have enough time! Now, how do you choose?

Thanks to Marcin K. from Poland for sending me this question about setting priorities! If you have a question you would like me to address in a future blog, you can write me at ron@ronkelleher.com.

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#044: Five Requirements to Finish the Race Well!

So the year is coming to a close, and as we are wont to do we consider the events of the year and judge it: do we want more of the same, or do we make resolutions for changes we intend to make in the year to come?

Finish Line

There is a Chinese proverb that roughly translates “you have to look back to see where you are going.” This makes sense to me because when I was little I used to borrow a neighbor’s rowboat and row around the small lake where we had a cabin. You direct a rowboat by looking back at where you’ve been while pointing the boat where you want to go.  Life is a lot like that. To know where we are going we look back at where we have been while pointing ourselves at where we want to go.

The difficulty for me is that when I am done I just want to move on. I have my new objectives established, my course is plotted, and I am on my way. I don’t really want to spend time looking back, and often I move forward with where I want to go, not necessarily taking God’s direction into account.  This is not a formula for “finishing the race well.”

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#036: Climbing the Success Ladder in 7 Easy Steps

College degree in hand, the fresh-faced young graduates, begin the quest and the upward climb towards career success.

Ladder, success

I know, I’ve seen it play out in many college classes where I have had the opportunity to guest lecture, and in the thousands of job interviews, I conducted while at Procter & Gamble. Everyone wants success. After all, who goes to college, and works hard enough to graduate who then says, “Yeah, I want a life at the bottom!” “Yes, a double helping of mediocrity please!”

The trouble comes when after a few months or years these young people see what the real world is really like, and suddenly they start to ask questions. What does success look like? How will I know when I have achieved it? What if I never achieve this dream of success? What if I do, and I don’t like it?

If you are in that group of young people just starting out here are seven steps you can take to help ensure that your climb up the ladder is a success.

If you are a bit older, wiser, and more experienced read on because these are things you can, and should be helping those younger folks understand as you mentor them toward the ladder of success.

Continue Reading »

#025: The Single Most Important Investment Priority

In our western culture it is easy for us to get caught up in the quest for more: more toys, bigger homes, nicer cars. You name it, we want the newest, nicest version of everything. But in the quest for more, do we lose sight of our priorities?

Investment Priorities

Jesus warned the disciples to be on guard against all kinds of greed, because he said, a man’s life is not measured by his possessions (Luke 12:15). He went on to tell the disciples the parable of the rich fool:

16  “The land of a rich man was very productive.
17  “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’
18  “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
19  ~’And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”‘
20  “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’
21  “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)

In this parable the rich man had two priorities: 1) accumulate as much wealth as he could, and 2) use his wealth for his future retirement plans. Now, to be clear there is nothing inherently wrong with wealth, or saving for retirement. What is at issue here is the man’s priority! He is focused exclusively on himself and his needs, while ignoring God (v. 21).

The parable of the rich man is focused on wealth, but Jesus’ warning may be applied more broadly. You have only a certain amount of time, energy, and other resources that God has entrusted to you for the purpose of investing into the Kingdom. The truth is you are resource constrained. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to invest your time, your talents, and your treasures with Kingdom priorities in mind.


Think about your top five priorities in life and at work. Consider to what extent these priorities are being driven by selfish desires, and which are Kingdom priorities.

19  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20  “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
21  for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21)

I’ve never seen a U-Haul behind a hearse. You can’t take your riches with you to heaven, but you can send them on ahead, by making Kingdom investments a priority!

Join the Conversation!

As always questions and comments are welcome. How are you doing with your priorities? What do you struggle with?


Category: Personal Development | Priorities