Reaching Goals and Holding Them Loosely
Well, you are ten days into the New Year. You are likely nearing (if not already approached) the point where you are no longer energized to continue these resolutions or changes. Some of us have already bombed our commitment to give up sugar, coffee, or bread. Some of us, even after buying new workout gear, can barely drag ourselves from the couch to the gym. A few of you made commitments to read Scripture or pray daily and may be going strong. Others of us are already a bit discouraged. I am guilty of setting unrealistic goals and then getting frustrated when I don’t meet them. My experience tells me to limit myself to 3-5 concrete goals and then schedule them into your life. Desire more exercise? Make an appointment with yourself on Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 6:30 a.m. Desire increased biblical knowledge? Schedule yourself to read Scripture and resource books Tuesday and Thursday at 9:00 a.m. Making room for these changes in our routines at specific times prioritizes them in our life.
Then, hold onto your goals loosely. Wait. What? Yes. I can have a rigid personality. In order to be fully present in my life, I need to be able to adjust and adapt to unexpected circumstance. That means knowing when to adjust my expectations or timeline. Not all obstacles should derail us from our goals. However, transformation comes with both intentional practices and responding to the unexpected. Caring for a loved one after an unexpected illness may not help you reach your goal of increased biblical knowledge. But it could teach you endlessly about vulnerability, compassion, service, and the value of one’s presence. Adjusting one’s financial goals after unexpected car trouble may not bring you closer to the magic number for your savings account. But it could teach you about simplicity, the value of coordination to be a one-car family, and the grace of relationships formed through carpooling.
I have learned over the years is that I need multiple opportunities throughout the year to reflect, evaluate, and clarify the direction of my life. The New Year, along with the beginning of a school year, are convenient times in my life but I recommend looking at the rhythm of your life and look for the natural breaks or cycles that you are already following. Maybe your life cycles around two busy stretches at work or you orient your life around the four seasons. These are natural opportunities for recalibrating your life. As we continually recalibrate our lives, we open ourselves up to the transforming work of God.