Unforeseen Circumstances

Where Goals and Life Collide

About six years ago, I had a great plan for my life.  Lots of goals, big dreams for my work life, and everything was on track.  I thought.  What actually happened in the year that followed was nothing like what I had dreamed.  I had what seemed like an incredible vision for my future, but I learned quickly that not everything on my roadmap was under my control.  Fast forward to 2019, and I am facing a similar situation where one key goal is now completely derailed by things I could have never seen coming.

This is exactly why I should never bother setting goals in the first place!  After all, we can’t control the future.  Right?

I won’t go into details about my specific situation, but have you ever felt this way?  We finally work up the courage to set a goal, to write a vision, then BAM!  That thing we call “life” comes around the corner and punches your shiny new goal in the face.  Bloody-nose goal.

It’s like dog training.  If you want a behavior to repeat, reward the behavior immediately.  If we want it to stop, punish the behavior immediately.  Many times, for many people, it seems that “life” sends an immediate punishment for having a big dream and starting to pursue it.  We take our first bold action, followed by an immediate setback.  Bad dog.  Stop dreaming.

This is the critical moment!  You see, I believe that it is totally normal to have that immediate punch in the nose.  You rarely waltz to a huge breakthrough without being tested.  Life will yield the reward, but not before you prove to life you’re serious.

Six years ago when I faced a major setback, I went almost two years where I opted out of goal-setting entirely.  For folks who only know me recently, that may seem hard to believe.  I lost confidence in my understanding of God’s will for my life.  My vision needed a tune-up.  I’m blessed to have loving family and friends who supported me during a time of seeking and prayer.  It was a humble reminder that I am not in control.

Here is what I know now to be true.  Goals are about who I become in the process.  Vision is about inspiration and creativity propelling my life forward each day.  Nobody ever said my plans, just because I planned them, are guaranteed to come true.  In fact it’s quite the opposite; often the don’t come true!  Circumstances will never go just the way I want them to.

So how are we to respond?  What’s the answer? To goal, or not to goal?  Is that even the question?

I’m faced with a situation today where a key goal is being derailed by forces outside my control.  Here is how I see things differently as a result of my past experiences.

  • The specific goal is no longer possible, but the heart behind the goal is still totally possible.  Remind myself of the purpose, and re-focus myself with a new goal within what I can control.
  • Take this chance to punch fear and disappointment in the face, and dream bigger than ever.  This is no reason to shy away from the vision and dreams God has placed in my heart!
  • Expect setbacks and challenges.  God placed dreams in our hearts and minds, but didn’t promise the path would be free of trials and tribulations.
  • Expect victory as well, when you keep pressing forward with persistence!
  • Separate your identity from your goal.  Who we are is not about what we have.
  • Dream in the future, but live in the present.

Remember this sentiment from Napoleon Hill if you are discouraged by a recent collision between life and your dreams:

“Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage.”

Stop thinking our goals are lost when circumstances get ugly, and start wondering what amazing twist God has in our story that will become an incredible advantage.  Let your vision pull you through the unexpected, tough times.  I’m right there with you.

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