It was five years ago when my husband dove headlong into planning and preparing for a new year, and he was hooked.
I chuckled more than once as I watched him; surrounded by books, spending hours enthusiastically reading, going through a planning course, and filling out a corresponding planner with goals. Whenever he would catch me chuckling at him he would say, “You should do this, too!” I would quickly respond, “Nope, I’m good. This is your thing.” He is naturally a dreamer, and I am not. But a year later I found myself sitting next to him, notebook in hand, watching the same year-planning course with a lot of trepidation and a sliver of excitement.
Now, I truly love order and structure and systems; having boxes to work inside of helps me feel safe and effective. So you would think that planning and goal-setting would naturally be exciting for me. But, it’s not. It makes me nervous. And it was only recently that I was able to put words as to why. Simply said:
I am afraid of having another un-accomplished task staring me in the face as evidence that I am a failure.
Finding my worth in what I do or in how well I do it has always been a weak point for me. Although I would tell you that I believe my worth is found in Christ, I too often subconsciously default to fleshly thinking. I find myself discouraged and full of guilt when the laundry falls behind, when a flaw is found in my writing, when I have a parenting blunder, or when my husband tells me the food doesn’t have quite enough salt. But amazingly, the very thing I thought would cause more condemnation—namely goal-planning—has actually been used as a tool by God to begin transforming my mindset toward work, goals, taking risks, falling short, getting better, and not being afraid of an unfinished task.
How so? I’ll do my very best to tell you.
God-Centered Planning Brings Success
Proverbs 16:3 says,
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
As I’ve embarked on this yearly planning journey these past four years, I’ve learned more and more that wise, humble, diligent planning honors the Lord. When we do our work with the desire for God to be glorified, we will work with more excitement, more intentionality, and more joy regardless of the outcome.
Does this mean that we will always succeed in accomplishing what we set out to do? No. Often the unexpected happens, or we realize we misjudged an aspect of our planning, or God simply closes a door. But whether we end up finishing as expected or things change along the way, we will have gone so much farther than if we wander aimlessly and just “hope” to achieve something.
I know some of us might feel a little bit gun-shy to make goals after this past year of craziness. It can be tempting to wonder what the point of planning is if everything is just going to get thrown out the window. However, when we are already in the mode of seeking to plan for God’s glory, He will help us adjust along the way to whatever curve balls come. Again, it isn’t ultimately about the outcome of our planning, but the desire to live intentionally for the glory of God. Nothing done out of love for and obedience to Him will be in vain.
Having Vision Brings Life
Proverbs 29:18a says,
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (KJV)
If you look at the verse in other translations, it’s quite clear it means a spiritual vision. When we have a clear vision for living for God and furthering His kingdom on earth, we will be diligent in living that out. In times when the practicals of living out that vision are unclear, we are pressed to seek the Lord more urgently which is always a good thing. And, not only will we have vision for the “big” things in life, but we will also have a vision for the daily faithfulness we are called to as believers according to Scripture.
As a wife and mom, having a Christ-centered vision keeps my work of homemaking, discipling and caring for my children, being a faithful helper to my husband, and loving those who come through our doors purposeful. It helps get me back on track when I become lax. It reminds me that the everyday moments of life build on one another, and are all a part of impacting this world for God’s glory. So, whether it’s a goal of revamping my household chore schedule or having a reading list, or working on getting my girls in dance class, all of it can aid in my ultimate vision of living intentionally for my Savior.
Acknowledging Weakness Brings Strength
I’ve always had a hard time allowing others to see my weaknesses, which ultimately comes down to pride. But it’s stressful and exhausting to try to hide areas of needed growth. And, when I do stare an area of weakness in the face, it often feels impossible to go about changing it, so I cop out and just say, “It is what it is.” When this mindset is allowed to remain, it trickles over into every aspect of life, from my spiritual growth to my relationships to my work and beyond.
James 4:6 says,
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
I have learned that there is so much freedom in humbling myself, acknowledging my weaknesses (first to the Lord, then to others), and allowing myself to be both taught and grown. God gives us grace to receive instruction and take steps toward needed change when we are humble before Him. Humility brings freedom and joy that pride never can.
In this learning process 2 Corinthians 12:9 has become one of my favorite verses.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Our weakness is the perfect place for Christ’s power to be displayed. And I’ve been learning that rather than being afraid for others to see my weakness, it becomes an opportunity to tell of His goodness, His faithfulness, and His mercy as He grows and changes me. It puts Him on the throne of my life and puts my ego in its rightful place: at His feet. This is what brings true and lasting freedom. The fear of failing loses some of its sting as I remember that there will always be abundant grace for me as I am living in repentance, being sanctified until the day I reach eternity.
Now, your process of living intentionally and planning for what is ahead will look differently than mine. We are created in beautifully unique ways with minds that are wired a bit differently, so I don’t want to give you super specific methods on how you should go about planning for the New Year. However, I wanted to share a few simple ideas that are very helpful, and can be done very easily.
- Write down your goals. It’s been shown that we are far more likely to remember something when we write it down (see link to article below). Write them in a place you are likely to see them on a regular basis, whether it’s a notebook or planner, or maybe on a whiteboard. It doesn’t need to be very many – you can start with one or two that are the most important for you. It could be a habit (i.e. spending time in God’s Word every day) or it could be a specific project you want to accomplish (i.e. organize a closet). But this way they will be kept at the forefront of your mind, and you can begin to break those down and take small steps toward those things that are important to you.
- Share your goals with someone. If you are married, your spouse is a great person to share with. Or, for you it might be a good friend who is also working toward some goals, and you can cheer one another on in the process. It could also be a mentor who you know will hold you accountable in a loving way (especially with habit goals). Whatever your situation, ask God to show you will help you live intentionally for His glory.
- Consider investing in a planner. There are a myriad of options out there, with various structures that fit different personalities or goal-types. My husband and I have been using the Full Focus Planner for quite some time, and love it. I’m also using the Cultivate Power Sheets this year along with it. Take some time to do your research and figure out what might be a good fit for you.
I also have some friends who prefer to use a plain notebook to jot things down that they need to remember or accomplish. It’s not one-size-fits-all, and there is freedom to try new things until you find something that works well for you.
Finally, I want to leave you with a few words of encouragement.
- Commit your upcoming year to the Lord, and allow Him to lead you.
- Ask Him to show you what living intentionally looks like in your specific circumstances.
- Don’t be afraid to admit where you need growth, and ask God to show you how best to allow Him to grow and change you.
- And most importantly, seek God with all your heart. Make Him your number one goal. A truly, eternally intentional life comes from making Jesus our aim, our pursuit, and our passion.
I am cheering you on, friend, as you step into this new year.
If this post encouraged you, would you consider sharing it so it can reach more women? Many thanks!