Diving deeper into the topic of “dreams and goals,” we wanted to know why most of us find it so hard to stick to the plan! 4word woman Bridget Mburu shared from the heart about setting goals, at any point in your life, and being open to The Plan when you discover it.
4word: Why do you think so many people struggle with setting goals and working toward dreams?
Bridget: The Internet is full of articles on “how to set goals”, such as the SMART method. So I’m convinced that we struggle, not necessarily because we don’t know how to write down a step by step plan, but because even the best laid plans will encounter various headwinds – intangible mental, emotional, spiritual, psychological challenges that are difficult to navigate.
The Bible, in the Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:3-9), talks about the condition of the soil (not the seed itself), which means our physical, mental, emotional, psychological, spiritual health. In other words, what is your foundation – what are your beliefs, perspectives, influences – what is the noise you are listening to in your life? If for example you set a goal to lose weight and create a plan around it but have an unhealthy self-image or poor relationship with food, the chances are high that you may either struggle to achieve your goal or you may achieve it but struggle to maintain it. If a sweet tooth is one of your vices, address how you are going to manage that first because it is sure to cause you to stumble no matter how many pushups you do at the gym.
Other reasons are:
- We don’t know where to start or how to navigate the process, the obstacles, and the challenges, so we become discouraged, tempted to give up, distracted.
- We are using our own strength, striving and struggling and getting discouraged instead of tapping into God’s grace (empowerment) and fully trusting Him.
- Relying only on our five senses: We pursue our dreams according to the natural – what we can see, hear, smell, feel, our gut – versus by faith.
- Having no support system (mentors, coaches, personal board of directors).
- Fear, the big four-letter word which can manifest itself in dreaming “small,” setting goals which are “small” and seeing ourselves as “small.”
- We focus on the destination and not the journey, thus forgetting to have fun in the process and to give ourselves the grace to “fail.”
4word: When you were graduating college, did you feel like you had everything planned out? Or was it a little more of an uncertain time?
Bridget: Goodness, no! I settled on an undergraduate degree because I had to graduate, not because I knew what field to study. And then when I graduated, I knew conceptually that I wanted to change the world but had no idea what that meant let alone how to go about it! I looked into my future and saw…NOTHING. Darkness. Talk about scary! I recall the anguished prayers for direction!
One day I went to church and went forward for prayer after the service. Well, this sweet elderly gentleman came beaming towards me to pray for me and to be honest I looked around frantically for someone younger and even tried to sidestep his outstretched hands because I was convinced there was no way this gentleman could possibly understand the anxiety I was feeling – he clearly hadn’t just graduated! Anyway, after I told him about this crisis I was experiencing, he patted my hand and beamed a smile that seemed to say, “Oh, that’s an easy one!” and then said “Go with God’s flow.” Well, I was furious! I wanted, no needed, step by step concrete directions. Well, it’s taken me many years to realize that that gentleman was exactly right.Why would I not trust that God will open the right doors at the right time?
Another lesson I’ve learned is, if you don’t know what to do or where to start, stop working against the grain. This means that if your interest is in treating animals, then look for opportunities in that field. Too many of us think our interests are not realistic or financially sustainable or that they are too “fun” to be work. God orders our steps, so pay attention to where He leads and “go with the flow.”
4word: In your experience, how should we approach finding “The Plan” for our lives?
Bridget: I believe that the foremost foundational thing, before we do anything else, is that we need to make sure that God is at the head and center of all our dreams and plans.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise early, to retire late, to eat the bread of anxious labors— for He gives [blessings] to His beloved even in his sleep.” Psalm 127:1-2 (AMP)
God not only created us; He also put in us the gifts, talents, personality, abilities, and everything we need to accomplish what He put us here to do – not for our sake, but for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Apart from God’s plan and purpose, we become shells of ourselves. God not only knows what we are capable of, what’s in us, but also how much time we have on this earth to accomplish it and what resources He has already made available to enable us to accomplish our purpose. So why would we not consult Him and submit to His leading in setting our goals?
It’s also important to obey and heed what God says. Immediately. I mean, look at Peter – just going about his day, doing the unglamorous task of casting nets to catch fish, when Jesus found him, called him and he immediately followed Jesus. Peter probably would have never thought in a million years that he would be following Jesus, the Messiah, and that he would become a “fisher of men”. See, Peter could immediately follow Jesus because he knew something many of us struggle to realize, which is that God sees more than is externally visible. He knows us intimately, and he looks in our hearts, souls, and spirits when he charges us with an assignment.
4word: As we follow our unique paths, how can we keep ourselves from wishing for the “greener grass” those around us might have?
Bridget: I’ve heard it said that the grass is only green where it’s watered. So if we are not watering the grass where we are, serving faithfully where we are, we are deluding ourselves in thinking that if we had the green grass that others seem to have, that we’d take care of it and it’d stay green. The Bible is very clear that when we are faithful with a little, God will make us ruler over much (Matt 25:23).
Remember that God is with you and blessing you right where you are: You know what’s hilarious and perhaps many will not admit? The reality is that WE all have something that others look at and wish they had. I guarantee you that regardless of how much you think others “have it” and that you don’t, there is someone somewhere who thinks you have something that they don’t have. Imagine that!
Pray for a renewed mind to see as God sees: What became clear to me as I grappled with insecurity from comparison was that I needed to surrender to God to do a deep work in my soul. I tried giving thanks for what I could acknowledge I was blessed with; I tried recalling scripture that affirmed God’s love for me and how everything he created was “good.” But this insecurity was wedged deep in my soul. So I did what we all do when we are desperate: I prayed…and God answered in two ways:
Remember that God will absolutely fulfil His plan and purpose for your life: I read the story of Hagar in Gen 16 & 21, this servant girl who birthed Ishmael as a result of Sarai’s unbelief, only to be cast out later when she disrespected Sarai. After being banished, Hagar was wandering around the wilderness, with no food, no family except for her infant son, no hope for the future, waiting to die, but the bible says God SAW her! God showed up in her desperate, humble situation and not only provided for her physical practical needs, he also prophesied over her son’s future and continued to provide for them in the wilderness. And Gen 16:13, has a shout-worthy revelation that talks about how Hagai in turn SAW God. So in the midst of her wilderness experience, dealing with lack and the very real prospect of death, God saw her and she in turn saw him! Whoo! May we SEE God and not our circumstances, our limitations, our as-yet unfulfilled dreams, our setbacks, our failures. God, help us to see you and not the perceived “greener grass” of others.
Know that God sees you and has a way out of your current challenge: And here’s another nugget that’s tucked in Gen 27:38. The descendants of Ishmael, Hagar’s son, bought Joseph from his brothers at the very moment when Joseph’s brothers had thrown him in a pit and were determined to kill him! Look at God’s timing and provision! First he rescues Ishmael, and then he rescues Joseph through Ishmael’s descendants – both from certain premature death. They both had dreams and destinies yet to be fulfilled, so even when things seemed irrevocably desperate, God showed up and provided and rescued them. God is going to ensure that your dreams and destiny survive and flourish beyond your current or future desperate situation.
Mind your own business: In John 21:21-22 (NLT), Jesus invites Peter to “follow him” and Peter decided to focus on John instead, asking “what about him?” And this is what happens next: “Jesus replied, If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” In other words, mind your own business. You do you – focus on your own dreams, goals, calling, purpose. Stop worrying about and commentating on and comparing other people’s lives – other people’s callings, goals, dreams are God’s and their business, and if and when he wants you to invest in someone else’s life, he will tell you. In the meantime, you follow him!
4word: What would your advice be to anyone looking to set goals for themselves this year (and beyond)?
Bridget: God is very strategic and He doesn’t do things adhoc. He has a plan and His vantage point is so high and He is all knowing and wise and wants to bless us because He loves us and to advance His kingdom. Numbers 23:19 (NLT) reminds us that “God is not a man, so he does not lie…Has he ever promised and not carried it through?”
Therefore, for this year, approach your dreams and goals with the following principles in mind:
- Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in setting goals and plans (or if you don’t have a goal to set, ask Him to show you one.)
- Stay faithful even when the outcome is not what you expected. Get clear about what your true intentions and expectations are, versus what you think they are.
- Don’t wait for (or expect) others’ validation of your dream or plan.
- Learn from previous mistakes, recalculate and get back on track. Know that God can handle our mistakes and He is able to use even our mistakes for good.
- Commit to the process and be patient.
- Be flexible and don’t fear interruptions to your plan.
- Get a mentor, coach, personal board of directors, sponsor, or other accountability and support system.
- Run your race (Heb 12:1 & 1 Cor 9:24), not Irene’s or John’s race. Be disciplined and focused in running yours. What’s going on with their lives is cool, but so is what’s going on with yours. I’ve noticed that when I started accepting my race and not be distracted by others’ races, I started discovering the potential and glory in it.
- Be content. It’s a great cure for dis-ease. Contentment is like exhaling. There is such a grace we gift ourselves when we truly acknowledge how significant our lives are and see the value that God sees.
- Don’t be in denial about a goal or plan that’s not working or try to spiritualize it in order to not deal with it.
- Have fun. Choose to enjoy your life as it is now.
Wouldn’t it be nice to set your 2018 dreams and goals according to The Plan for your life? We’re so thankful to Bridget for using her personal experience to help guide other women in the workplace toward the perfect set of New Year’s goals for their lives!
When I’m not posting words on my website here, https://www.heirsid.com, I can be found reading, enjoying various genres of music, or discussing world events pretending I can bring world peace. I’m an eclectic foodie who loves food from different cultures: Indian sweets and well, everything Indian food, Ethiopian Wot, Greek moussaka, Kenyan chapatis, French pastries (all that butter!), Peruvian meats, and even going to high tea. I think in Heaven I’ll be in charge of the food, reading, and music selection. My other interests and passions are hiking, acting, singing heartily, texting family and friends, and doing virtually all my shopping online (thank you Amazon and Uber Eats!).