By Tabitha Caplinger
I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I used to sit and think of how I wanted to improve in the New Year. It’d be like staring at the blank page of a new chapter and wanting to make sure it was better than the last. Maybe I’d wonder if this was the chapter where I would get healthier. Maybe it’s the chapter where I’d save more money. Maybe it would be the chapter where I’d get more organized. My mind would go through the possibilities with a desire to do something but I could never decide what one thing was important enough to warrant becoming the focus of my time, attention and energy.
Is doing more pilates more important than paying off debt? Is cleaning out the clutter worth more than cutting back on sugar? (For the record, the sugar thing is pure conjecture. My body runs on sugar. I wouldn’t survive without it.) Is it really about one thing?
A few years ago I began to shift my perspective on this whole resolution thing. My focus became living on purpose. My goal was to live more intentionally in every area of my life. Intentional became my buzz word.
In·ten·tion·al (inˈten(t)SH(ə)n(ə)l/) adj
1: done on purpose; deliberate.”intentional wrongdoing and harm”
2: synonyms: deliberate, calculated, conscious, intended, planned, meant, studied, knowing, willful, purposeful, purposive, done on purpose, premeditated, preplanned, preconceived; rarewitting “intentional contamination of our food supply is a real threat”
Too often we lack intentionality in our lives. Oh, we have schedules and to-do lists, but are the things that fill our day really moving us from where we are to where God wants us to be? I think we do a lot of stuff, but how much of it has us just running in place rather than making any real forward progress?
The key to getting out of the rut and on track with getting WHERE God wants you to be and becoming WHO God wants you to be is intentionality.
This isn’t about perfection. This is about managing our time so it doesn’t manage us. This is about investing our time and energy rather than just spending it. This is about purposely pursuing our dreams. This year could be the year things shift for you. How?
Start by asking some self-assessment questions:
- Who do I want to BE this year? (More generous, more patient, more loving?)
- Where do I need to GROW this year? (My relationship with God? Emotional maturity?)
- What do I want to DO this year? (Pursue a dream? Go on an adventure?)
(Pro-tip: If you are anything like me you are gonna come up with a lot of answers to those questions. That is really awesome, but don’t try to do all the things right away. Pick one answer for each question to focus on first, then add in more as you are able.)
Next, take those answers and start thinking of the how, how am I going to BE, GROW and DO? Make plans, real plans not wishes. The difference between a wish and a dream is a plan, and a plan that succeeds is one that is intentional.
I like to create S.M.A.R.T. goals. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is one that is SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, RELEVANT and TIME-BASED. What does all that mean? It means instead of saying you are going to lose weight this year, you say you are going to lose 20 pounds by Memorial day and figuring out how you are going to make that happen. Instead of saying this is the year you get closer to God, you say you are going to work on getting closer to God by spending 30 minutes in personal devotion three days a week. See the difference?
(Pro-tip: If the BE, GROW, DO seems hard to grasp, think of setting goals this way; set a relational goal, a spiritual goal, and a physical/health goal.)
One final reminder, as you take time today, this week, this month, to get a vision for yourself for 2020 (vision? 20/20? See what I did there? LOL) be sure to include Jesus in the conversation. Self-assessment can be a vital spiritual discipline but only if we are asking Him the questions too. Keep asking His opinion on the subject as you turn dreams into goals.
Proverbs 16:9 in the Message tells us, “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.” Ultimately, we live on purpose by yielding to His purpose for us. Our first intention should be to know Him more and in so doing we better know ourselves.
So, call it a resolution, a dream a goal…choose to take a step this year in the direction of Jesus and His plans for you.