The month of planning; of making new goals; developing new game plans.
Words like "planning" and "scheduling" and "routine" are the equivalent of fingernails on a blackboard to me. I have friends whose eyes light up with excitement and anticipation when such words are uttered but not me. I cringe and get knots in my stomach and begin to feel like I'm being enclosed in a vacuum with no air to breathe! Everything inside of me screams,
Let Me OUT!
Let Me BREATHE!
But experience and life has taught me that I can't go through my days willy-nilly (as much as I would like to!) without some idea of where I am heading or what I need to attend to.
Proverbs 21:5a The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage.....
And experience has also taught me that I need a little bit of wiggle room or else I do suffocate (or at least feel like I am).
Proverbs 21:5b ....but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.
So I DO make some goals at the beginning of each year to guide me throughout the next 12 months. I use John 2:52 as my guide, something our wise mentors taught us some 30 years ago.
And Jesus increased
in wisdom and stature
and in favor with God
and with men.
The idea is that if Jesus, the Son of God, grew in these areas of His life they warrant some attention in my life, too.
Something to keep me mentally alert or sharp.
Something to expand my knowledge base.
For example, in the past I have made goals of taking a quilting class or reading a certain number of books.
Something to improve or maintain my physical body.
For example...you know the drill...eat better, exercise more, take my vitamins, etc, etc, etc.
Favor with men (people)--Social
Something that improves my relationships with
For example, I have made goals to invite friends for dinner or prepare freezer meals to have something ready to share with a family in need of some encouragement.
Favor with God--Spiritual
Something to deepen my relationship with God
For example, I have made goals to develop a better Scripture memory verse plan or have my devotional time before I allow myself to turn on the computer.
Okay, so like I said, planning and goal making and me don't always see eye to eye. This has not always been a joyous experience for me. I have approached goal setting with the mind set that I just need to buckle down and try harder and force myself to trudge through it.
I have decided at times that this just isn't my bent and chucked the whole exercise.
So through much trial and fail I have come to the point that I set down goals but keep them brief. No more do I write down 52 things I intend to accomplish the next year even though each one might be admirable and beneficial to helping me increase in the four areas I mentioned. I have honed my list down to ONE in each category. Maybe I am an under achiever but I prefer to call myself a realist. It's not like I'm not doing anything else in my life to become wiser or get in better shape or improve my relationships with people and with God. My goals just become my bench marks to determine if anything has happened in the past year.
Do I have complete success? NO! In fact I scored less than 50% success rate last year. But even the misses were beneficial. My lack of accomplishment in some areas made me evaluate what went "wrong", made me understand better why God puts so much emphasis on perseverance, pressing on. It showed me how incapable I am in doing anything apart from God. I was made aware again of how much of a role accountability with another plays in reaching the goal. I was humbled (always a good thing!). And the best thing I learned from my "failures" last year is that progress isn't necessarily measured by crossing the finish line. Imperfect progress, as author Lysa TerKeurst calls it, is still progress. I'm still moving forward, maybe by baby steps rather than giant leaps, but it's forward.
I am convinced that God is not a God of disappointment but of hope. I have determined not to allow this process to disappoint me but to find hope in the truth that God is completing in me the process He started. (Philippians 1:6) Even though I didn't fulfill all my goals last year I know they moved me down the road at least a little. I made some imperfect progress.
And that is better than no progress at all.
So be encouraged all you fellow willy-nilly-ers.