December, despite the best of intentions, can seem like a mad rush. As hard as we try to remember the “reason for the season,” to keep Christ in Christmas, it seems the month always flies by like a dash to the finish line of some hare-brained race of socializing, eating and celebrating. Before we know it, Christmas is in the rear-view mirror, we are packing up the decorations and about to embark on a new year.
Taking time to reflect on the blessings and lessons of the past year and thinking about what lies ahead seems like a nice idea, but can often become an afterthought at best, or totally go by the wayside amidst holiday plans and celebrations.
Today, I challenge you to change that. Amidst the rush of these last few weeks of 2014, or in the early days of 2015, take some time. Stop, sit down. Think, reflect, pray. What was challenging about 2014? What blessings did you receive? What lessons did you learn? What do you want to change heading into the New Year? What will you do differently? What will you keep doing? What goals can you set?
Goal setting was a familiar practice for me growing up. My very organized, driven, analytical mother had our entire family filling out goal sheets for the year that were divided into 5 or 6 questions or categories, from the time we were very young, right up until high school. It was a great idea, but one that, as I grew older, never quite became my own, and even grew to resent a bit.
As is often the way with kids (foolish, and not willing to accept wisdom from their parents), instead of adapting the process and making it my own, I discarded it almost entirely as a way of distancing myself from something that was “mom’s thing” (love you Mom!). As New Year’s rolled around, I would make a half-hearted attempt at typing some goals in a Word document; then promptly forget about them until December.
But, as I grew older, learned more about life and myself, I realized that I needed something more to guide me. I can achieve greater success with something to work towards.
And so, last year, as I reflected on the year before me and what lay ahead, I took the initiative to set my own goals. But I did things a bit differently. No more organized sheets of questions (sorry Mom) or any specific quotas to fill. I simply devoted time to thought and prayer about where I was at, and where I wanted to be in a year. I intentionally didn’t make too many goals for myself, not wanting to feel overwhelmed or like a failure if I didn’t achieve them all.
I also added my own “Hilary” spin to the process, picking a couple Bible verses for the year (I couldn’t settle on just one), and even a word for 2014. I am finding of late that’s often how God speaks to me, giving me just a word or two to focus on, that can apply to so many areas of my life. I started the year with a single word, but God spoke to me two more words that I added to my list in the spring.
After finishing the process, I put all the goals, verses, and words in a note on my phone so I could consult them and pray over them often (I will confess that I was better at this in the early half of the year). I also shared my goals with a couple close friends.
As we are on the brink of another New Year, I am excited to review last year’s list. Not to grade myself on “how I did,” but to see where I’m at. Am I happy with my progress? Would I revise these goals at all? How will they carry me forward into 2015 and what new goals can I add?
Personally, I’m looking forward to 2015. I believe God has big things ahead for me this year. But, as always, and as I have shared on the FV blog before, God wants me to take the first step. And that’s why I’m sharing with you about goal setting. God gives us dreams and desires, and I believe it’s important to think and pray about them, but most importantly, to write them down so we know what we are chasing, what we are running towards.
So pour yourself a cup of tea. Sit down next to your Christmas tree. Think back on the year that was. Look forward to the year ahead. Pray over the successes, failures, wins and losses. Ask God what He has for you in 2015. Write it down. And prepare to be amazed.
P.S. If you see me around FV over the next few weeks, feel free to stop me to chat. Ask about my 2014 list and what I’m thinking of for 2015. But be prepared: I just might do the same for you!