In Luke 14:28, Jesus talks about planning and setting goals. He says, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”
The goal setting and planning process is very exciting as we imagine how our life would be once we have achieved our goal. The growth we are after and the result of the same creates a sense of excitement in our minds.
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:28
The reality of pursuing the goal however is very different as there is real pain involved when you change your old ways and learn something new. The pain is even worse if the goal you are after is way out of your comfort zone.
When faced with reality, the excitement you felt when setting the goal or the life you imagined once the goal was complete does not motivate you anymore. The result seems so far away so it becomes really easy to make excuses. You may say “today is my cheat day” or try to defend yourself by saying, “I’ve worked hard these few days and I deserve it.” You could come up with some other reason that is valid in that moment.
As humans we all have the same issue. We all struggle with the pain that exists once we start taking actions on our goals. How do some among us fare better than the most of us? Do they do something different from the majority?
King David gives us a solution in Psalm 34:12. He asks a question, “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days?” I am certain your answer is yes. In verse 14, he has the answer, “Turn from evil and do good.” Doing “good” is the goal you are after. We all set goals and move forward and then when we face the reality of pain many of us back off or let go of our goals and find reasons to justify our decision.
“Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days?… “Turn from evil and do good.” Psalm 34:12, 14
King David offers a two-step solution. “turn from evil” and then “do good”. What David is saying is while you plan what it is that you will go after, you also need to recognize what current habit will you leave behind. If you decide to eat healthy then you need to also consider the unhealthy items that you will not eat. If you decide to add a new habit say exercising, then you need to also think about where will the time for exercising come from: your tv time? Your social media time? You must realize everything is an exchange. You are giving up something to go after something else.
In most of the cases, the goal you are after is the change you seek. Realizing that change is not filling a void but rather replacing some habit that already exists will help you make better decisions in the moment where you are tempted to quit.
While pursuing a new goal, you are making a change in your routine. You are planning to replace something that you normally do with something that you have now planned to do. For example, if you decide to exercise instead of watching the television then you are deciding to move away from the routine i.e., watching tv to your new goal exercising.
When you quantify both the “evil” and the “good” in your goal you know what it is that you will give up in order to gain the result you are after with your new goal. When you face pain, as in our example earlier you are thinking about watching tv today instead of exercising, you can then realize that you are turning to “evil” instead of the “good.”
In Matthew 13:44, Jesus talks about this idea of exchange. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” In order to possess the treasure that is hidden in the field (“good”) the man went and sold(“evil”) all that he had.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Matthew 13:44
In the earlier example, you can also see how you brain works. Your brain loves routine and therefore will come up with reasons and excuses to return to the routine. The pain of change is real, there is no escaping it. Recognizing what you will leave and what you will gain in its stead will help you stick to the goal and repeat the decision each time you are tempted to abandon the “good” you are after.