Resolutions are annoying.

Anyone can make them, and they rarely make a difference. Somewhere in the universe there’s an Interstellar-like Black Hole filled with failed New Year’s resolutions. Matthew McConaughey is knocking books off of bookshelves trying to shout at us, “These don’t work! Stop making them!”

Yet year after year, jerk writers (like myself?) step onto our online platforms to proclaim: this year is different!

Here’s the truth: resolutions fail because winning is too hard.

Has this ever been you?

I want to lose 50 pounds! (Quit when only a pound was lost in January.)

I want to eat right all year! (Quit when Sonic had half-price milkshakes.)

I want to write the great American novel! (Quit when the chapters got too hard to write.)

I want to build my business this year! (Quit when the business wasn’t profitable in the first month.)

For those of us in church, our goals are different:

Higher attendance, more baptisms, better giving, increased volunteer participation, etc. We cross our fingers and hope that if we make our church services “better” these resolutions will come to pass.

We set high benchmarks because culture tells us to shoot for the moon, but even if we miss we’ll land among the stars. Our reality informs us that Earth’s gravity is a lot harder to escape than a pithy poem might suggest–and so we quit.

Here’s the secret: construct your goals like a staircase, not an elevator.

Most resolutions lose steam by February because we want to set the goal, press a button, and shoot straight to the end. While no one thinks they’ll lose 50 pounds overnight or that church attendance will swell by 30% in a week, we expect the journey to be automatic–like riding an elevator to success.

Success is never automatic.

Defining your goals should look like a staircase. Yes, have a huge goal for 2016, but create smaller goals in-between. What’s the first step to take in reaching the huge goal? What’s next after that? And after that?

A series of small wins will give you the momentum you need to reach the top.

When I was in high school, I visited the Great Sand Dune National Park in Colorado. Before we arrived, our church group stopped at a convenience store to buy bottled water and Gatorade. It was a really hot summer, and so I bought the biggest bottle of Gatorade I could find. This national park is insane. You’re driving along small highways through beautiful Rocky Mountain passes until all of a sudden: BAM! You’re in the middle of a desert. The hundreds of square miles of dry, sandy dunes are visibly surrounded by snow-capped mountains and evergreen forests. It’s like a reverse-oasis in the middle of a mountain range.

As we pulled into the parking lot, it became really obvious: there’s no point in trying to go very far into the park. The hundreds of guests who were there were pretty much camped out at the bottom of the first large dune. Only a handful of people were climbing the monstrous pile of sand. From the parking lot it seemed silly. Sure it was tall, but not too tall. Sure it was hot, but I was from Texas and I was used to heat.

But as I passed the throngs of snot-nosed sand castle builders and started my own journey up the first large sand dune, I got a rude awakening. My feet were sinking into the sand and pulling me back down the dune almost as quickly as I could pick them up again. Progress was eternally slow. My original goal had seemed so simple: climb to the top of the first large dune. The reality was something else entirely. I really wanted to quit, and join the preschoolers digging with dollar store tools.

I had to revise my plan. I wasn’t going to quit. I was going to get to the top.

The one glimmer of joy in the climb were the small sips of purple Gatorade. So I changed my tactic: throw the Gatorade bottle a few feet up the dune. Get to the bottle, get a sip. Throw the bottle up the dune. Get to the bottle, get a sip. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

My goal, now, wasn’t focused on getting to the top of the dune… it was getting to the Gatorade for a blessed sip on a scorching day.

I reached the top before I knew it.

From there, the view was incredible. Acres and acres of dunes that looked like the Sahara in the middle of America. Surrounding me were the luscious and majestic Rocky Mountains. Crystal clear blue skies with soft, white clouds drew a stark contrast to the harsher landscapes below. And a soft breeze making that celebratory sip of Gatorade that much more refreshing.

Mission accomplished.

Then the real pay-off happened: rolling down that sucker like a mad man. I’ve never had so much fun in my life. Sure, I was shaking sand out of my shoes for weeks… but it was worth it.

Our ministry goals must work the same way. Define the series of small wins that exist between now and your huge goal. The repeated pattern of winning will give you the confidence and momentum that you need to get to the next level and achieve what you’re really after: results.

The process of setting goals in ministry is critical. It’s the difference between intentionally growing in 2016 or leaving things to chance.

But setting goals can be hard. What are the right goals? What are those small wins between your present and your goal? How do you get your staff or volunteer team on board? What are the critical actions you need to take to get high-impact results?

Get the help you need.

Check out my Ministry Goals 2016 Coaching Program: 30 Days from Resolutions to Results.

In it I help you pick the right goals, from a doable plan with an empowered team to take the critical actions and get measurable results in 30 days–guaranteed. That’s right–if you don’t start seeing initial results within 30 days, I don’t make a penny.*

What do you get?

  • Two weekly coaching sessions
  • Daily email motivations and coaching prompts
  • Weekly videos and downloadable resources with detailed, step-by-step guidance on accomplishing your goals
  • A model (that fits any ministry) that will launch you into your most successful year of ministry
  • Lifetime access to videos and materials so you can set and reach goals year after year

What does it cost?

  • The coaching program costs only $10/day for 30 days**

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* Benchmark results are defined in first week. First results will be met by the end of 30 days or you’ll receive a full refund. Refunds cannot be issued after 45 days.
**Coaching Program is billed up-front at a cost of $300.