Welcome to a new month! Okay, so I’m a few days late, but can you believe that we are already one month into the New Year? I guess that means it’s not so new anymore.
How has January been for you?
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like January has been a little crazy and February is shaping up to be a little crazy as well! In my local community (maybe most of the U.S.?), we have dealt with the worst winter in many years with multiple snow days nearly every week! My kids haven’t been to a full week of daycare since sometime in December. I had high hopes that this week would be better but the meteorologist tells me that the snow will be returning within the hour. On top of all the snow we’ve had my son’s illnesses and surgery, some major deadlines and catch up to take care of at work, I’ve started another round of small group meetings with my church group. And the taxes need to be done, the car needs maintenance, and hey look, Valentine’s day is next week, there are dates to be planned, cards to decorate, and class parties to purchase supplies for.
We start the year with big hopes and dreams for our New Year and yet life doesn’t even let us catch our breath. You may have hopes of losing weight, starting a new project, being a “better wife”, reading more books, spending more time with the kids, keeping up with the housework, quitting that bad habit, serving healthier meals to your family, or becoming a rock star at work. And yet, here it is February already and if anything, things have gotten worse instead of better. There may be plenty of excuses and valid reasons, but the reality is 2014 is aiming to be just the same as 2013.
I’m one of those people who really likes to see forward progress. I want each passing year to be better than the last, not in a superficial way with more stuff or more money or more adventures. But I want to see improvement in things that matter. I believe that God is always calling us higher and deeper, our journey of life should continue to move upward toward Him. My Christian faith calls me to keep striving, keep improving, and keep growing.
At the start of the New Year, you may have created a vision and some goals for 2014. Now would be a great time to read back through those lists to remind yourself what you’re hoping to achieve this year. Ask yourself some questions:
Are these goals actually achievable in my life right now? – We certainly want to push ourselves, but sometimes in the excitement of the New Year we might push the bar a little too high. It’s okay to adjust to something a little more realistic.
Are these plans still important to me? – This early in the year, your ideas probably haven’t shifted too much, but sometimes life throws a curve ball and what you thought was really important, just doesn’t make the list anymore. Your passions and interests may have shifted to something else. You may have learned something about yourself or the subject of your goal that makes you less interested in continuing down the path you were headed. Changing directions is acceptable, even if it’s a complete 180.
Is there something else I need to add? – Lowering expectations and changing directions is often the result of a new interest or a new goal. If you need to add something to the list, there is still a whole lot of year left to accomplish new things.
Make It Visible
If you don’t have your goals written down, that is step number one. However, I have my goals written down (or typed out in Evernote). I can access my goals anytime, anywhere through my computer, iPhone, Kindle, or even someone else’s device. The problem is I actually have to think about thinking about my goals to stumble across them. Out of sight, out of mind plays a big role here.
I have big goals for the year that I break down into smaller goals each month. It helps me make progress toward my big goals. I’ve decided that after reviewing and creating these monthly goals in Evernote, I will jot down the basics of my goals on an old fashioned 3×5 card to keep on my desk. I’m at my desk every single day, so I’ll have plenty of opportunity to keep my goals in my sight, in my mind and stay focused on achieving them.
Find some place that you can store your goals that you can guarantee you will see everyday (or most days). It may be your wallet, your bathroom mirror, your kitchen sink, your desk, your car, just find a place that you can spend a few moments reading through your goals to keep them front and center in your focus.
Make Room for Grace
Let me make you a guarantee. You are going to fail. Not every day. Not for every goal. But there will be a day when you don’t meet your goals. There will be a day when life makes a sharp left turn and you end up bruised on the side of the road. There will be a time when you get sick, get busy, the snowstorm shuts down the entire city, the house demands extra repairs, the kids get on your last nerve, or the car behind you forgets to stop. Goals will need to be sidelined, restructured, and postponed. Results won’t be as expected. All your hard work will feel like it was for nothing.
On these days, it is important to know that “His mercies are new every morning.” For this moment, you can cry, yell, and throw up your hands, but tomorrow when you wake, look at that old 3×5 card of goals, take a deep breath, and put one foot in front of the other. “Press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called you.”
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?
Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.
No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others,
I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27