I have always been a person with a to-do list. But there were many days when I became a slave to my lists. Things don’t always happen as planned and I would feel like a failure if I wasn’t able to cross out all the tasks that I allocated to a specific day. It got more gruelling when I had to work full-time, make sure that my children got to school and all the activities that they were committed to and somehow find time to live my life.
I remember a period when I refused to make the lists, it felt as if I was in survival mode and the last thing that I needed was a piece of paper telling me that I didn’t add up to the perfect model that I created in my diary.
I learned critical lessons during that specific time in my life – I had to organise my thoughts, sift out the important stuff and commit to doing them; I had to learn to let go of unhealthy expectations. I had to become more specific and to be realistic in what I can (and can’t) achieve in one day. I realised that I could delegate some tasks to my children. It is impossible to dream about a great future if you are struggling to make ends meet in your current reality. I started scheduling my tasks, breaking them up into smaller, more manageable bits to make sure that I would reach my goals. I learned the valuable discipline to never put off anything for tomorrow that can be done today. This period in my life showed me that we can do more than we think we are capable of if we manage our time well.
There were days when I wanted to give up, where I felt so overwhelmed and resentful that my thoughts discouraged me and made me waste time on wishful thinking.
But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded. (2 Chronicles 15:7)
I learned that I had to be content in the season that I found myself in. I needed to plant myself and live each day to the fullest. I needed to trust God to lead me through the desert.
Enlarge the place of your tent, let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. (Isaiah 54:2)
Years later, just before my 50th birthday, I realised that God used the desert to prepare me, to strengthen me for what He had in store for me. There was a crucial moment when I thought that my life was over, I toggled with the idea that I had to make peace with the fact that I had served my purpose here on earth; I raised my children and that was that. But then came the awareness that I was still alive, healthy and might have a huge chunk of life left. Although it seemed foreign in the beginning, I allowed myself to start dreaming again. To go to the outskirts of my imagination and to set goals again.
God’s work in my life changed me so much, I wasn’t bound by the limitations of my previous life. I knew that I could accomplish something meaningful because I witnessed God’s work in my heart over the years. I also realised that goal-setting was a spiritual discipline. We serve a God of order and He sets goals. God created the universe with an end goal in mind. Scripture is filled with the importance of planning and setting goals.
I do not run without a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something – not just the air. (1 Corinthians 9:26)
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:28)
Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house. (Proverbs 24:27)
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. (Psalm 33:11)
I felt an exciting freedom, a new beginning was looming and I had the opportunity to start fresh. Before I started planning my future, I examined my position – what was my spiritual condition? After finding the answer, I had to define my purpose, what is standing in my way? How many constraints do I face? When doubt and fear set in I went back to my journals to find prophetic words that were spoken over my life. I took my eyes away from my circumstances and my inability to hope and I stood on God’s promises. I realised that I was blessed with many talents and I wanted to be sure that I used all of them, I wanted to be a good and faithful servant – but I needed God desperately. I fully depended on Him to help me set my goals.
And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits the appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”(Proverbs 24:27)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. (Psalm 20:4)
Any enterprise built by wise planning becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts. (Proverbs 24:3-4)
A goal without a plan is just a wish. – Larry Elder.
Fear can keep us captive and keep us from reaching our goals. If there is no clarity, we will procrastinate, and that often leads to empty resolutions. If our goals are vague it is only a wish and nothing will come of it. If our goals are unrealistic or senseless in our current reality, we will set ourselves up to fail. If we do not discipline ourselves to keep working at our tasks, we will never reach our goals.
I once read a beautiful quote that inspired me to set deadlines to my goals … “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” There are days (like when I have to write these articles) that I feel completely without any inspiration to do the work, but the fact that I have a deadline forces me to be active, to set goals, to do the research and to finally sit down and do the work. I always revert back to the question, what does God want for my life? If He has a plan for me, surely I should make these plans my own!
Nothing is impossible for God. He is faithful, if I believe that I am in His will, I can succeed. I had to make my peace with God’s timing; many of my goals were not reached because the timing was off. I keep on reminding myself that I am in His hands, that He is forming my life day by day. I will commit to doing the work, I will face my disappointments and mishaps, but I will not give up.
I am encouraged by God’s Word. His will and His character is unfailing. If I do the planning and the work and I commit my life to Him, if I trust His timing and in His support through the tough days I will succeed. I had to crucify my selfish ambitions and crooked motives to become humble and trusting. God is motivating me daily through the work of the Holy Spirit to keep on.
I trust you feel inspired to set outrageous goals for 2017! I hope they scare you a little … but excite you a LOT!