One of the hardest things for me as a writer is to figure out how to pursue goals without obsessing over them.
Do you ever have that problem? Maybe you’re trying to lose weight. But you find yourself constantly obsessing over calories or points or how much exercise you’re getting.
Or maybe you’re working on your marriage. But you’re steaming mad at your spouse whenever he doesn’t cooperate with your marriage improvement plans.
Or maybe you’re just trying to get your to-do list done each day. And heaven help the person who gets in the way of your list!
If this is you, there is hope! Jesus gives us some good advice in Matthew 11:28-30:
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Here are 5 tips on how to pursue goals without obsessing over them that I learned from Matthew 11:28-30:
How to Pursue Goals Without Obsessing Over Them
1. Find out what’s making you obsessed.
In this passage, Jesus is addressing a specific group of people: those who are weary and heavy-laden. That’s different than the group who is out there achieving all of their goals, seemingly without effort.
He’s addressing us: the ones who are struggling. The question we want to ask ourselves is, “Why are we struggling? Why so heavy-laden?” Chances are good that the reason we’re so heavy-hearted (and obsessed) is because we’re making the goal a lot more important than God wants us to make it.
The next question we need to ask is, “What just happened that triggered the obsession?” Did you have a bad weigh-in? A fight with your spouse? A disappointment with work?
Once you discover what triggered the day’s obsession, go ahead with the next step.
2. Go to Jesus whenever you find yourself obsessing.
Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden.” He doesn’t say, “Come to the refrigerator,” or “Come to Facebook,” Or “Come to Pinterest.”
Why do we need to come to Jesus?
Because He is the only one who can help us let go of the obsession.
So what are we supposed to do when we come to Jesus? Well, you know what we like to do … right? We like to cry out, “Jesus, fix this!! Help me lose this weight! Help me have a better marriage! Help me reach this goal!”
There’s nothing wrong with those requests. But when they come in the middle of a goal-induced frenzy, they’re often asked with impure motives–we want our goals more than we want God.
So what we really need to do is forget the requests, come to God, and just rest in Him. Remember who He is. Remember what’s important. Remember how much we love Him.
And just rest. It’s an incredible blessing to be able to rest in Him. Forget the world. Forget our goals. Forget our problems. Just soak in His love.
Jesus says He’ll give us rest. He doesn’t say He’ll give us a perfect life, a perfect relationship, or a perfect body. But rest is far better than any of those things.
4. Keep pursuing your goals, but do it with God.
So what’s next? Does that mean we need to stop pursuing our goals because we’re making them too important? Not necessarily. Certainly, that might be an option. But it’s also possible that God might want us to keep pursuing our goals, but to do it with Him.
Jesus tells us to learn from Him. Then He goes on to give us that beautiful image of the two of us pulling the wagon together, side by side. He’s the head oxen. We’re His trainee.
We’re not sitting in the back of the wagon, watching Him do all the work. We’re walking with Him. That’s not always easy, but it’s a whole lot easier than trying to pull the wagon all by ourselves!
As we walk with Him, we’ll have to be keep remembering to take this last step whenever we need it.
5. Let go of any burdens He doesn’t want you to carry.
This is a biggie. So often when we pursue goals, we take on a burden God doesn’t want us to carry. We somehow let those goals get so intertwined with our identity that if we fail at the goal, we feel like we’re also failures at life.
This isn’t true. We’re not defined by what we do, but by who we are in Christ. And in Christ, we’re God’s children. Beautifully and wonderfully made. Greatly loved. Valuable. And that’s whether we reach the goal or not.
His burden is light: Walk with Him.
Our burden is incredibly heavy: Be successful! Don’t disappoint anyone! Be the best! Earn respect!! Don’t make anyone mad!! Don’t fail!
Those burdens weigh us down because they’re self-focused goals. And when we try to fill ourselves up with all of those things, we never get enough to satisfy us.
We’ll be far better off if let go of our burdens and focus on Him: Loving Him. Enjoying Him. And learning from Him.
God can use the goal-pursuing process for our growth and also for the good of ourselves and others.
But in order for that to happen, we need to keep God first and hold the goal with open hands. Shall we try to do that together as we head into the new year?
If you’d like help with your goals …
Check out these blog posts:
New Podcast Coming!
Also wanted to let you guys know that I’m still working on the new weight loss podcast which I hope to have ready by the end of this month or early February. I’ll also continue to put out episodes on the Christian Habits Podcast but will take a break from that for a little while – maybe 2 or 3 months to focus on this new one. Hope you are all having a wonderful new year, working on your goals, but not obsessing about them!