Family Works

Setting goals

Rob Coombs ID. Min. Ph.D.
Posted 8/27/17

Every fall, universities open their doors to hundreds of life travelers. Many come with visions of greatness, certain their journey through life will bring fame and fortune. Others come with …

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Family Works

Setting goals


Every fall, universities open their doors to hundreds of life travelers. Many come with visions of greatness, certain their journey through life will bring fame and fortune. Others come with insecurities, questioning if they have what it takes to make the journey at all. Still others come because their friends are here, or better yet, because their parents are not. Of course, some just want to have fun.

Usually by midterm of the first semester, students arrive at a Y in the road. In one direction lies the lure of the easy road which entices many. Hanging out with friends, having a good time, living for the moment is just too appealing.

In the other direction lies the daunting challenge of the hard road. There are papers that need two or three more revisions, chapters to be read, projects to prepare, and yet another test that demands mastery of a subject area. Making the choice to throw on one’s rather heavy backpack and travel the intimidating hard road is far from easy, especially when one’s friends are playfully calling from the easy road.

Susan was one student who was not to be swayed, despite the many voices seeking to entice her. She always arrived at class a few minutes early with her study guide in hand. Her participation in class indicated that she was throughly prepared, having read her assigned readings and even given thought to the implications of what she had studied. She listened intently in class and contributed with thoughtful insights.

When I commented that she appeared to have rather easily chosen the hard road, she smiled and commented, “It’s my dad.” Reading the questioning look on my face, she continued. “You see, my dad taught me that if I was tempted to choose the easy road in life, then my life would turn out hard. But, if I choose the hard road, my life would turn out easy. It’s worth the effort. I want a good life.”

She picked up her books and left. I stood there thinking about her father’s wisdom. He was right. Facing the rather intimidating challenges of college isn’t easy. If it was, I guess more than 24 percent of Americans would have a college degree. But they don’t. It’s a hard road, but for the students who are willing to travel this hard road, earning a college degree will become the single greatest predictor of life satisfaction by the ripe old age of 50. Understanding this, I have encouraged many.

For years, I have wondered why some listen and some don’t. Sometimes even our brightest and most talented don’t succeed in college. Sometimes those who have every excuse not to, do.

I believe whether or not any of us realize our dreams has everything to do with our level of commitment, a commitment that translates into action.

Some understand the difference between ideally dreaming and actually doing what is needed to actualize their dreams, and they translate these dreams into concrete, achievable goals.

I am told that if a person only thinks about a goal in his head, there is only about a 20 percent chance he will ever achieve that goal. If he takes his thoughts to the next level and writes down his goal, his chance of meeting that goal increases to 60 percent. And, if he tells someone significant, his chance of meeting his goal actually increases to 80 percent.

Nothing — not anything — is impossible for those who have the courage, the stamina, the motivation, the faith and the determination to actualize their dreams.

The real question is, are you willing to do what it takes to reach your goals?

Rob Coombs is a professor with a doctor of ministry degree and a doctor of philosophy with an emphasis in Family Systems.


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