SIDEBAR: 10 Steps to Setting Life Goals

by Mark Batterson

In his book, How Life Imitates Chess, world chess champion GarryKasparov shares lessons from chess that apply to life. One of the most significant is: “A Grandmaster makes the best moves because they are based on what he wants the board to look like 10 or 20 moves in the future.” That’s a great picture of what goal setting is all about. It is setting goals here and now that are motivated by a clear picture of what you want your life to be like 10 or 20 years from now.

How do I get started?

I recommend that you schedule a personal retreat. Buy a new journal. Print out Ten Steps To Setting Life Goals at And start goal setting.

I made my first life goal list in my late twenties. I was on a church retreat and goal setting was one of the exercises. I think my original list consisted of 25 goals scratched into a retreat notebook. Over the years, that original list has morphed into 100-plus life goals. And for the record, I am still editing my life goal list. A life goal list is always in rough draft form because you are always adding new goals and tweaking old ones.

Why are goals important?

You will never accomplish the goals you do not set. It is that simple. Does it not seem like poor stewardship that most people spend more time planning their summer vacation than they do planning their life? Without goals, we stop living out of imagination and we start living out of memory. Without goals, we stop creating the future and start repeating the past. Without goals, we stop living out of design and we start living out of default. I certainly do not want to overspiritualize goal setting because you can set goals that are selfish in nature and you would be better off spiritually if you did not accomplish them. But I also believe goals can be an expression of faith if you set them the right way. After all, Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is being sure of what we hope for. In other words, faith is a clear picture of the goal you are trying to achieve. And if God conceives that goal, then He who began a good work will carry it to completion. And accomplishing that goal is one way we glorify God.

Ten Steps to Goal-Setting:

  1. Start with prayer
  2. Check your motives
  3. Get ideas from others
  4. Think in categories
  5. Be specific
  6. Write down your goals
  7. Include others
  8. Celebrate along the way
  9. Think long
  10. Keep dreaming God-sized dreams

To download Ten Steps To Setting Life Goals and check out my life goal list, visit