8 steps towards becoming an academic


Then I said to them, ‘You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come; let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.” Nehemiah 2: 17

A goal worth pursuing is not a goal that you can be easily talked out of. It is a goal that rests deep within you and you cannot let it go. Your focus becomes so intense on achieving your goal that you will not allow current circumstances and what others say hinder you. You will focus on your goals with laser beam attention because you understand that accomplishing them is part of your becoming the person God desires you to be.

Nehemiah developed a consuming desire to accomplish his goal of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. When he heard that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and God’s people were living in distress he felt such compassion that it caused him to weep and mourn for days. He knew something had to be done so he sought God in prayer for direction. His prayer was of a man of action not a sideline critic. He does not pray, “God give this goal to someone else,” or “God you need to do something about this issue.”Instead, his prayer is “God use me to make something happen,” (Nehemiah 1:4-11).

When you commit yourself to your vision and express it in achievable goals, you provide yourself with the motivation of where you are going and how you anticipate getting there. Are you passionate about achieving your goals? Nehemiah had a passionate and uncompromising heart to go after the goal that God had given him. He didn’t allow anyone or anything to compromise his goal of rebuilding Jerusalem’s broken down walls. My desire is to help you develop and implement a solid goals plan that will help bring your vision into fruition.

Our Twelve Simple Steps to Achieving Your Goals will help you write and implement an achievable goals plan. We will take a practical look from the Book of Nehemiah on how to set and achieve your desired goals.

1. Spend quality time seeking God for your goals

Before Nehemiah started rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, he spent four months in prayer seeking God’s directions. He committed to spending the quality time needed to hear what and how he was to proceed with his goal and who he would need to ask help from. He prayed, “Let your ear now be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant…” (Nehemiah 1:6).

I advise you to get alone in a quiet place by yourself away from the distractions of life and begin to seek God’s face. Put away your mobile devices, shut down the computer and turn off the television. Tell your family and friends this is your set time for seeking God’s face to hear His directions and you do not want to be disturbed. Do you have a daily appointment with God to seek Him for your life’s direction?

2. Define your goals in writing


I believe that during Nehemiah’s four months of praying to God about rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem he developed a detailed written goals plan that helped him clarify what he needed from the king and the steps he needed to take to put his plan into action. “And a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress for the wall of the city…And the king granted them.” (Nehemiah 2:8)

It is very important that you take your Bible, pen, paper and your Goals Matter! Planning Sheets with you during your quiet time. When you begin to define your goals in writing make sure they are SMART: Specific – Measurable – Actionable – Reinforcing -Trackable.

You want to record in detail what God is revealing to you because you are fooling yourself if you think you can remember everything He reveals to you. We tend to forget things. Write down your goals! Written goals will bring clarity to your life. When you document your goals you create a road map to focus your directions. You will begin to see clearly what you need to do and how you need to do it.

3. Create measures for success

Now that you have defined your goals the next step is to create ways to measure your progress. When Nehemiah’s goal was defined he set a targeted time with the king when he would return. “Then the king said to me, the queen sitting beside him, “How long will your journey be, and when will you return? So it pleased the king to send me, and I gave him a definite time.” (Nehemiah 2:6) It’s not enough to say I have a goal, but you need to have a way to measure your progress. Your measures for success can be defined by:

-1. Term (length of time)
· Short Term (within a year)
· Medium Term (within three years)
· Long Term (over three years)
-2. The Life Area- spiritual, relational, physical, social, financial, mental or professional.
-3. Dates- Start date, target completion date and actual completion date.

I believe when you add these measurables to your goals it brings a greater energy and excitement to achieve them. If you don’t meet your measurables please don’t give up, you may have to make some readjustments or changes. You may have to quit doing something one way and try doing it another way.

4. Define possible opportunities for success

One of the keys to stay motivated in achieving your goals is to define your opportunities for success. Nehemiah knew that rebuilding the walls would put the children of Israel in a more stable condition. The walls represented power, protection and peace for the city of Jerusalem and the people that lived there. The walls were desperately needed to provide protection for the people and the Temple from the enemies attack.

Without the rebuilt walls the city would remain defenseless against its enemies. Nehemiah was committed and consumed with accomplishing this goal because he understood the awesome opportunities that were possible for the success of rebuilding the walls.

One technique that I found very helpful to focus my goals planning was to list several opportunities for success in accomplishing a particular goal. I personally like to list three to four opportunities. Let’s use the example of a goal of losing 20 lbs. in four months.

Here are a few things I would list as possible opportunities for success: I will physically feel better, I will be more confident, I will have to buy a new wardrobe and I would be able to participate in more physical activities. You can list as many opportunities for success as you desire. Your list will become a huge part of your motivation to achieve your goals when times of discontentment, discouragement and doubt come.

5. Identify obstacles to success

Now that you have spent time seeking God for your goals, you have written them down, set measures to success and defined possible opportunities for success everything should be smooth sailing, right? Wrong! Obstacles will come to attempt to detour your goals. You will be able to identify some of the obstacles in the beginning, but some will come out of nowhere.

As soon as Nehemiah and the people began to rebuild the wall the opposition came..”Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews. ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Can they finish in a day?”(Nehemiah 4:1-3).

You may feel fearful of going after your goals because you know that opposition will come. You may think your life will be easier if you stay in your comfort zone, but opposition will come if you stay in your comfort zone or not. So you might as well do what you need to do to accomplish your goals.

When you are growing and moving towards your goals, God will equip and empower you to deal with any obstacles. Nehemiah was able to overcome his opposition by remaining focused on his main goal of rebuilding the walls. He didn’t allow the naysayers and doubters to stop his goal pursuit. He identified the obstacles, prayed and kept moving forward.

I suggest that you identify at least three obstacles that you feel may try to prevent you from achieving your goals. List the potential obstacles that you have identified for each of your goals on your Goals Matter! Planning Sheet and begin your journey of overcoming them to successfully achieve your goals.”

6. Breakdown goals into manageable action steps.

Nehemiah understood that rebuilding Jerusalem’s broken walls would be a big project. He knew in order to achieve this goal he had to break down the larger goal of rebuilding the walls into smaller manageable action steps. One of the first things he did when he arrived in Jerusalem was to go out at night to survey the totality of the project.

After carefully studying the severity of the broken down walls and the burned gates, Nehemiah developed a comprehensive action plan. His approach was to divide the work of rebuilding the walls into forty sections. Then he would assign the appropriate people to each section. Breaking down the larger goal into more manageable sections would make the job easier to monitor and complete (Nehemiah 2:11-16).

When you have a large goal that you want to accomplish, the best thing to do is break your large goal into smaller more manageable action steps. If you focus on the enormity of the large goal it can become too overwhelming.

If you try to do the large goal all at once it can lead to certain frustration and quick burn out. If you take the large goal and break it down into smaller measurable action steps you set yourself up for success because you make your large goal more obtainable. It is much easier to bust a large stone with several small strikes than one big hit.

If you have a large goal you want to accomplish our Goals Matter! Planning Sheets have a section where you can list at least ten smaller steps with a begin date, target completion date and an actual completion date. Taking the time to break your goal into smaller manageable steps will put you on the right road to your goals success.

7. Identify people, resources or skills needed.

Nehemiah asked the king for specific resources that he would need in his wall rebuilding project. He asked the king for letters to give to the governors for passage through their provinces (Nehemiah 2:7-8). He also asked for a letter to give to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest so that he would supply them with the timber they would need to rebuild the walls and his house. Nehemiah plainly identified what he would need in order to bring his vision to pass.

Not only did he identify the resources he would need; he also identified the people he would need to make this vision happen. Nehemiah knew that he couldn’t carry out this big vision alone; he would need to solicit the help of the entire Jewish community. He didn’t go to a select group, but he involved everyone in the wall rebuilding project. He requested the help of the Priest, nobles, officials and others from the community (Nehemiah 2:17-18).

What resources or skills do you have or need to acquire to accomplish your goals? Who are the people you will need on your team to help you achieve your goals? You may have to take a class or do an in depth self-study on a particular subject to educate yourself on a new skill or re-educate yourself on an old skill that you will need.

Trust me; you are going to need help from others. Don’t be ashamed or too prideful to ask for help. You can’t do it alone. You will need the support, encouragement and someone to share ideas with. Identify and acquire the resources, skills and/or people you will need and go to work.

8. Demonstrate a progressive attitude.

Nehemiah was continuously met with opposition as he moved forward in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He was constantly being threatened, but with every threat from the enemy Nehemiah combated them with prayer and a progressive attitude to continue to move forward. Their enemies said, “They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them and put a stop to their work” (Nehemiah 4:11).

Nehemiah did not back down, he stationed men behind the wall and people in families with swords, spears and bows (Nehemiah 4:13). He constantly reminded the workers of their ultimate goal by encouraging them to not be afraid of their enemies, but remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and that He will give them victory.

What occupies your thought life can have a tremendous influence on your attitude. What you think and say will play an integral part in your ability to achieve your life goals. You must have a progressive attitude that moves you forward in spite of the opposition and barriers that are present. I believe what you feed your mind will eventually come out in your talk and actions.

How you think will determine who you are and what you do. When you catch yourself thinking defeated thoughts or speaking negative words immediately replace them with positive words and empowering thoughts. If you don’t, your defeated thoughts and negative words will over shadow any attempt to have a positive progressive attitude. I believe the ultimate way you get your thoughts in order is to have them aligned with God’s Word.

9. Take action.

Nehemiah didn’t just talk or wish about accomplishing his goal. He took action throughout the entire process. When he heard about the broken down walls of Jerusalem he prayed to God; next he asked the king for his help and resources, he surveyed the walls and devised a plan, he organized the people to rebuild the walls, he stood up to those who were against their goal and they rebuilt the walls in record time.

What actions have you taken to turn your goals into reality? Once you have a written goals plan it is time to take action. It is your responsibility to make daily decisions to do something to move forward. You can’t wait for the right deal, the right people to support you or the right situation to happen before you take action on your goals.

You could have written the most captivating, compelling and challenging goal possible, but if you don’t take a course of action to implement your plan, your goal will remain just a wonderful dream. Once you have a desired goal, you can use our Goals Matter! Planning Sheets to properly set your goal in detail and then take immediate action.

10. Monitor your goals regularly.

I believe Nehemiah monitored the progress of the wall rebuilding project daily. He probably had the leaders of each section give him daily reports of their progress and the actions of their opposition. Nehemiah had to keep a hand on the heartbeat of rebuilding the walls to make sure they were progressing in the right direction towards its completion.

As you move forward with your goals, you will need to periodically monitor them. It is important to know where you stand in your goals progress in order to make any necessary adjustments or changes. You may find that you need to go right instead of going left or you may have to extend the time of when you can complete an action step or the overall goal. You may discover that a goal you may set needs to be eliminated because it no longer aligns with your overall life’s vision.

Monitoring your goals regularly will give you the view of where you are and whether or not you are on the right course to completing your goal. Goals Matter! Planning Sheets gives you a great document to regularly monitor where you are on your goals progress.

11. Reward yourself.

During Jerusalem’s wall rebuilding project there were many things that were accomplished. The people learned to work together as a team, they were able to overcome intense opposition, they learned about the power of prayer and they stopped oppressing their own people. All of these were great rewards for coming together as a team to accomplish a common goal. I believe their greatest reward came when they completed rebuilding the walls in a record time of fifty-two days (Nehemiah 6:15).

I don’t want to make achieving your goals all work. You have heard the saying, “all work and no play makes you dull”. During the process of reaching your goals you need to implement rewards that follow key steps in your action plan. This will enforce your desire to move forward to the next step on your way to accomplishing your big goal. Please make your goal achievement a fun and exciting process.

Now don’t overdo it with rewards because you still have an overall goal to reach. Your minor victories deserve applause! You can establish bigger rewards as you accomplish more steps to your overall larger goal. This recognition will enforce where you are going and provides an incentive to get the job done.

12. Keep moving forward.

Nehemiah committed himself to rebuilding the broken down walls of Jerusalem. Nothing or no one was going to stop him. He kept the vision moving forward in spite of opposition from people who didn’t want to see the walls rebuilt (Nehemiah 4:1-3). He kept moving forward when they were threatened to be killed if they continued with the rebuilding project (Nehemiah 4:11-12). He kept the vision in front of them when internal schisms, inequalities and injustices could have derailed them(Nehemiah 5:1-13).

Throughout the impossible goal, Nehemiah displayed an uncanny ability to overcome obstacles and opposition to stay focused on his ultimate goal. Because he kept moving forward, the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt in record time and he brought about a spiritual awakening among the people of Judah. Nehemiah gives three motivators to help you keep moving forward in your goals progress.

1) Commit to your path for achieving your goals regardless of set-backs, opposition, obstacles or failures.
2) Continually surround yourself with people that will encourage your forward movement.
3) Consistency over time will allow you to achieve your goals more quickly.

“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” John Wooden

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