Carrots and Sticks

June 11, 2012
By Ryan Ervin
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
    but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. ~ Proverbs 21:5

I was never a goal-setter.  I lived my first 24 years wondering what life had in store for me next. Then… I married my wife, who is the consummate goal-setter. She even had this thing called a “budget.” I’d always thought that was a cuss word, or something to shout at before a good fight.

The truth is, though, that everyone can benefit from learning to set goals. We all need a carrot at the end of a stick to define the win and keep us moving. Like stretching a rubber-band, setting great goals puts a healthy tension in our life by pulling us forward.
Here are three reasons goal-setting is a valuable discipline.
  1. Setting goals helps us decide what not to do. In the history of the world, there has never been the amount of options that there is today. Mac or PC, Coke or Pepsi. Career, school, spouse. Just count the number of mayonnaise options you have the next time you’re in the grocery store. Setting a good goal for yourself eliminates a bunch of the options and clears the path.
  2. Setting goals is unifying. Once a good goal is in play, it’s unifying. It aligns your personal resources (time, energy, money, etc.) and it aligns a team. Once my wife and I agree on a budget, we’re aligned. It’s saying, “This is what we want to do with the money we’ll get,” and then we make it happen. She helps me, and I help her.
  3. Setting goals helps us call something a “win.” Did you meet your goal? (This should be a “yes” or “no” answer.) If “no,” is that okay? Why didn’t you meet it? If “yes,” yay! At what cost? Is that okay? My wife and I are on the Dave Ramsey Plan, and we recently paid off our car. Yay!
I’m a recent goal-setter. It’s a disease, really, but worst of all, it’s contagious. I’ve even started using a Life Plan, which breaks goals down into different areas of our life. Areas like family, career, physical health, and so on. I love this, since it aligns so well with Scripture the most important commandment.
When my wife and I first got married, Nicole said we need to come up with a two-year plan. My instant reaction was “What?! How are we supposed to know what the future holds? We can’t tell God what to do!” Well, we did, and it was an amazing process for us. Planning is exceedingly biblical.  God plans too.

Here is a very simple exercise to end with. What do you want to do in
6 hours
6 days
6 weeks
6 months
6 years

I’d love to hear your experience with planning. Please share your thoughts, struggles and successes in the comment section!


  1. Here is a link to my friend Sam’s quick video on setting goals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tyRq7Jn78E

  2. Pepsi.

    • Derek, you bring up a great point. Struggling on planning for Pepsi is problematic.

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