a life goals list and prayer
Living on Purpose

A Life Goals List & Prayer

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I’ve written before how The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson had a big impact on my prayer life. In fact, I wrote about it twice – here and here. But this book also introduced me to the concept of having a life goals list.

goals plus prayer equals adventure

The modern life goals list was likely invented by John Goddard who wrote a list of 127 life goals at the young age of 15 – in 1940. They were amazing goals and he achieved almost all of them before his death. I first learned about him in The Circle Maker.

Since I first read The Circle Maker, I have toyed with the idea of making my own Life Goals List but put it off. I was too old. Too out of shape. Too poor. Too busy. And so on.

But I finally got honest with myself and examined the idea of whether a Life Goals List is a good idea – and what should go on my list. Because everyone’s list is different.

What is a Life Goals List?

Simply defined, a life goals list is a list of long-term personal goals you want to achieve. Sometimes this list is categorized, sometimes it focuses on just one or two areas of life. There is not just one way to make a life goals list.

When John Goddard first made his list in 1940, he titled it “My Life List.” I have chosen to call mine “My Life Goals List” for two reasons. First, ‘life list’ is a common term used by bird-watchers to keep a list of all the birds they see during their lifetime. If you Google ‘life list’ you will get a lot of bird-watching results!

a life goals list and prayer

Second, by adding the word goals it provides me a mental signal that this isn’t just some fairy-tale wish list. Instead, it is a list of things that I’d really love to accomplish. A list of things that energize my thoughts and provide me with the motivation I need to work on achieving these items.

Prayer and Your Life Goals List

What does a life goals list have to do with prayer? I love the way Mark Batterson describes it in The Circle Maker: goals are “the cause and effect of praying hard.” In other words, more prayer leads to more big goals added to your life goals list. And more big goals lead to more praying because you know you’ll never reach those goals without God’s help.

More prayer leads to more big goals added to your life goals list. And more big goals lead to more praying because you know you’ll never reach those goals without God’s help. Click To Tweet

I’ve written about Biblical principles of goal-setting before, so I won’t go into it much here. But it is important to note that having goals is not unbiblical! Some people think that planning for the future means you’re not trusting God. But God Himself is a planner! He planned your salvation from before the foundation of the earth (Ephesians 1:4).

Planning is not only Biblical, but it is also downright smart! God put you on earth and leaves you here for a reason. You have a purpose. As you pray about the future and make your goals and lists, God Himself will put His desires in your heart. The more you pray, the more confidence you can have that the goals you are most passionate about achieving were placed there by the God who loves you and knows you better than you know yourself.

The more you pray, the more confidence you can have that the goals you are most passionate about achieving were placed there by the God who loves you and knows you better than you know yourself. Click To Tweet

How Do You Make a Life Goals List?

You can use whatever method works for you to create your life goal list. But you should always start with prayer. And end with prayer. And prayer in the middle. Basically – pray a lot while creating your list!

Once you’re prayed up – start with brainstorming. Make a list of anything you can think of that you might enjoy doing. No editing. No shaking your head. No saying “not that.” List everything. Write by hand or on a computer – whichever is easier.

looking ahead

When you run out of ideas, start thinking in categories. What life goals would you like to have in your career, your family, your friendships, your travels, your finances, your living situation, your education, your health? Keep brainstorming until the ideas stop completely.

If you need a jumpstart in thinking big, search for ‘bucket list’ or ‘life list’ to see what other people have as life goals. Don’t copy just because something sounds good. But feel free to copy if an item lights a fire in your heart.

Once you’ve made your list, choose your first goal and start working towards it.

Tips for Creating a Life Goals List

  • Dream big, audacious goals. It’s better to aim too high than too low.
  • Be specific. Don’t say “I want to travel more.” Instead, say “I want to take a 4-week trip through Italy.”
  • Focus on things you can do by yourself if necessary. You will probably have ‘negative Nancy’s’ in your life. Ignore them and do what you can to take that 4-week trip through Italy, even if you have to go alone!
  • You can work on achieving more than one goal at a time. While saving for your Italy trip, you can be working on the manuscript for your best-seller.
  • Remember, this list is for your entire life – so don’t be overwhelmed (unless you’re 95 and still have 250 items on the list!).
  • But also remember, your life will change many times. Do what you can, when you can. “I’ll do it later” often means you never do it.
  • Post your list where you’ll see it frequently – at least once every day. Go a step farther and share it with your family and friends.
  • Give yourself permission to add or subtract to your list whenever you want. We all change and sometimes our desires change. Don’t fight it.
  • But also, don’t give up on an idea too easily. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you should get rid of it.
  • Do your best to make sure everything on your list is exciting and energizing for you. Cut out everything that does not light a fire in you – like you wish you could do it NOW if not yesterday!
  • If you’re not a ‘young whipper-snapper’ anymore – feel free to include the items you’ve already accomplished. Seeing what you’ve already done with your life can be highly motivating! But only list the things you’ve done that were important to you – things that you would add to your life goal list as ‘to-do’ if you had not already done them.

My Life Goals List

I organized my Life Goals List into 5 categories. The categories I used were Family & Relationships, Career & Financial, Ministry, Personal & Health, and Travel & Experiences. I ended up with 59 items.

I won’t share my entire list with you (I doubt it would be helpful), but I will list a few items in each category as examples. If you want more ideas, just search for ‘bucket list ideas’ or ‘life goals ideas.’

Family & Relationships

bring your life into focus
  • Have a big bash for our 50th anniversary.
  • Travel with my husband someplace new every year.
  • Have a girl’s weekend with my mom and sister.

Career & Financial

  • Pay off our mortgage before I turn 65.
  • Pay cash for any new vehicles.
  • Write 10 books.

Ministry

  • Participate regularly in an accountability group.
  • Go on at least 1 mission trip every year (post-COVID)
  • Pay for 1 teen or college student to go on a mission trip every year

Personal & Health

  • Weigh 110 pounds
  • Become a proficient gardener
  • Learn to take excellent photographs with a DSLR camera

Travel & Experiences

  • Stay at an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean
  • Go to Disney World
  • Snorkel or scuba at least once a year

Now you know what a life goals list is. You’ve seen some items from my list. You’ve learned the connection between prayer and a life goals list. For more Biblical insight, you may have even checked out this post.

So now what? Will you just move one to the next item on your daily to-do list?

Or will you take the time to pray for a big vision of what God can do in and through you? Then write down your own list? Start working towards checking off your first item on that list?

A good place to start is with the 20 Must-Have Items for Your Life Goals List. It is available in the Treasure Trove of Faith Freebies.

What will you do with the life God has given you?

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