If you've been on Instagram during these past two weeks, you know there is no shortage of posts about goal setting, word of the year and new year resolutions. While I am one who loves to plan, challenge myself and set benchmarks for the year ahead, I have also discovered that forcing myself to come up with a set goals by the very beginning of the new year is more burdensome than life-giving. So instead of getting pressured to have some list by the first week of January, I instead take my time and approach it differently.
Intentionality is key.
The months of November and December are eventful months for us. Aside from the fact that this is when all the festivities happen, we recognize it as the season we intentionally spend a generous amount of time being with family and friends. As for the business, it's a period of major preparations and implementations. We gear up for selling season and execute plans we prepared for the past months.
These hectic final two months of the year doesn't allow me the time to sit still for an extended period to reflect and plan for the year ahead. Squeezing in a day or two before the year ends doesn't seem to be enough time to figure out what I'd like to accomplish the next 12 months.
Reflection takes time.
I am not a naturally "reflective" person. If left on auto-pilot, I'm inclined to just do, do, do. I can live off of checked task boxes. But it is so healthy for my soul to pause and look back even on just the last 24 hours and reflect on why I do what I do. It gives meaning and purpose which in turn gives life and inspiration to my next steps.
I find this even more important and insightful when looking back at the year that has passed. We can get so focused on the everyday routines and tasks. It's necessary to take a few steps back to be able to see the big picture. This is usually how I see how the Lord has been working and get a good gauge on where He's leading us next.
Approach it prayerfully.
Ephesians 2:10 is what would pretty much sum this point up for me. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Before we even had plans of planning anything for our future, God's already had it written. Starting with a posture acknowledging this truth already takes off a lot of pressure in coming up with a list and more so in fulfilling them. When our approach is seeking His plan versus laying out our own, it becomes worship.
So here's what I found to work best for me. I dedicate the entire month of January to SEEK. Giving myself a whole month makes room for reflection, worship and intentionality. Practically, this means that one day, I go through my photos from the last year and look back on events that have happened, places I've visited, or the people I've met and then just write a gratitude list. Another day I would read back on my journal and be reminded of what the Lord has spoken into my life and evaluate how I've responded to those. Or it may just be a day where I dream and list down desires and aspirations. As I go through each day, my heart is set on seeking the Lord through prayer and His Word. I am more sensitive and receptive to His voice. And since I don't have to do it in just a day or two, I can be more relaxed and creative.
At our church, we do a 21-day fast every January. I take full advantage of the energy that comes with praying and seeking God as a community. Fasting allows me to hear from God more clearly when I deny myself of usual pleasures for the purpose of listening for His voice. If you would like to do this as well, here's a guide we're using this year. Feel free to use it and even invite a few other friends to join you.
If you desire for this year to be God's year in your life, I encourage you to dedicate this first month of the year to seeking His voice, slowing down and allowing Jesus to speak His plans into your heart. A blessed 2019 to us all!
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