Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Goal Setting for the New Year

The end of the year always gets my "wheels a'turning." With all the talk of New Years' resolutions one can't help but ponder . . .

"What have I accomplished this year?"
"Have I matured?"
"Am I better at *fill-in-the-blank* than I was a year ago?"

And hopefully, for the most part, we all can give positive answers. But sometimes, it's also a time for some brutal honesty. I remember the end of 2005, the first year I actually made a concerted effort at some self-evaluation. I was pretty disappointed in myself. I realized I didn't seem any different than a year ago. I was coasting. There is a saying out there that goes
"If you aim for nothing, you are bound to hit it." That pretty much sums it up, eh? ;oP That was the first year I sat down and wrote up some goals for myself, spiritual goals, physical goals, projects I wanted to get done, and also goals for the kids.--how's my parenting, what do I need to improve on? I picked a word for the year "JOY." I think God knew I was serious about growing. Two months later I found out I had a brain tumor.

What does that have to do with goal setting, you ask? Well, growing, particularly the spiritual kind has a whole lot to do with the trials we persevere through. How easy it would have been to work on joy if my life was perfect--if Josh made millions of dollars, my kids were perfectly well-behaved, my house was my dream home and never messy. Who couldn't be joyful under those circumstances, right? It was a lot harder with a brain tumor. Growing comes about through struggle, discipline (you know, those FUN words that we all love so much). And so with seriousness I contemplate this last year and the new one quickly approaching.

Where am I at? I do see a different person than I saw three years ago. The process has been tedious. I fail quite miserably on a daily, ahem, hourly basis. And yet I anticipate the new year. I'm considering my "word" for this year, 2006 was JOY, 2007 was FAITHFULNESS, 2008 was STEADFASTNESS, 2009 . . . I'm looking over my routines (or lack thereof) and deciding what is working, and what is not. I'm making a plan. But I'm going to be honest--I love planning. I love brainstorming new ideas. I love writing up schedules, chore charts. I love the sales on organizing supplies that stores have in January. I love a new calendar or planner. It makes me a bit giddy. It is always the "making it happen" that I struggle with. Because let's face it, "making it happen" brings us back to that favorite word again--DISCIPLINE. Discipline is not fun. I'm good at making excuses for myself.

"I have four kids, I can't . . ."
"I deserve . . ."
"That's just too much work right now, some day . . ."
You know, stuff like that. I read somewhere that most often we spend too much time LISTENING to ourselves and not enough TELLING ourselves what to do. That would be my problem. (I mean, who out there really wants to get out of their cozy bed an hour earlier to exercise.)

And so I look to the new year. I wonder what lies ahead. I'm making new goals and adding to old ones, and hoping Lord-willing that one year from now there will be growth, maturity, and a general heading-in-the-right-direction.
Teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

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