On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!
How many times have we heard someone say, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail?” Well, in actuality, there is a lot of truth in that statement because not having a financial plan is the equivalent of throwing darts in the dark or basically leaving your financial future up to chance.
My experiences as an athlete and as a college basketball coach have enabled me to learn and develop skills that I have been able to use on the court and in real life situations. It was during my coaching years that I realized how the lack of a plan or being ill-prepared can be detrimental to your future. Knowing what play to call when you are down by two points with eight seconds to go in a double overtime game does not matter if you have not practiced (planned) a play to run for that very situation.
Perhaps the most important part of any type of plan is the goal-setting process. Our goals provide a mark to aim towards, or better yet, a direction to advance. They also bring about the structure that is necessary to plan successfully. When I was a college basketball player, every year I knew that our coach would call a team meeting prior to the season to make sure we were all mentally on the same page. As a team of players and coaches, we would write out our goals and the objectives that it took to reach each one. Our coach would then copy the goals and post them on our lockers so that we could see them and be reminded daily of what we were planning to do. It’s amazing how the basic tenets of goal-setting can be used in sports, academics, and with your finances. What’s even more amazing is how the Bible similarly used an example of an athlete in scripture to help me apply these same principles to my own life.
First, you have to have a goal to work toward. Having no goal is like walking in the dark with a blindfold on. It’s not possible to see in the dark even when your eyes are not covered, but when you don’t have any directions or plans to get out of the dark, then you choose to cover your own eyes (blindfolded) and you choose to continue to wander aimlessly. We have to follow the example the Apostle Paul set for us in 1 Corinthians 9:26, “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air.” Second, your goal(s) must embody the principle of sowing and reaping. Simply put, you will get out of something what you put into it.
I like the way the Message version of 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 communicates this principle: “I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”
And last, your goal(s) should always put you in a position to be successful. 1 Corinthians 9:24b tells us to “Run in such a way that you may win.” What is the purpose of setting a goal if you do not have plans to attain it in the first place? Why set a goal if you don’t expect to be successful?”