I am crazy. Really crazy.
It’s a slight exaggeration, but this morning I sure feel like it. My sleepy little fingers and tired eyes are writing this at 5:15am in the Boston Airport. There’s a half eaten chicken, egg & tomato scramble (I know, I know – “ew”) to my right, snow drifts coming down outside and 80′s rock songs on the airport radio. Is this real life?
Normal people are in bed. Or would be listening to their iPods or getting a latte.
Time has become like gold to me over the past few weeks, and I’ve had such a minimal amount of it at my disposal lately that I wanted to spend it sharing something my heart’s been leaping to write since I knew what it was.
In my last post, I wrote about my progress through the first steps of Lara Casey’s 2013 Goal Setting series. Her approach to goal planning is unique. Most folks, myself included, start at the finish line when thinking about what they want to accomplish in a year. We start with the results. “This year, I’m going to be a better X, weigh Y pounds, make Z more friends…” But this approach the “why” behind each goal, which is the framework you need to hold fast to your plans when about 95% of the January resolution-setters have trashed or forgotten the list they made on the first of the month and the busyness of life, temptation to fall into old habits and to be comfortable with not changing things makes the goin’ tough. And it WILL inevitably get tough, because change is hard!
That’s what I love about the Making Things Happen approach. It’s not just about the goals, it’s about a holistic, heart wrenching, honest reflection of your heart, passions and life path, and how it’s affecting you, those you love dearly, and those you affect daily.
This “bigger picture” approach to planning ensures that your goals and vision will stick like glue because writing them is the LAST step in a series of self-evaluations and honest answers to reflective questions that get to the heart of why you do what you do, what you’re skills and passions and dreams are, what’s working and not working in your life, who you want to be in 50 years, what you can leave behind and what you can change for the better. I covered my journey through steps 1-5 in my last post, but the full spectrum of the series follows this structure:
Step 1: Write down what DID work in 2012
Step 2: Write down what DIDN’T work in 2012
Step 3: Create an inspiration board for 2013 on Pinterest (Here’s my board)
Step 4: Write down 3 lessons you learned from what DID work
Step 5: Write down 3 lessons you learned from what DIDN’T work
Step 6: Write down your 2013 Vision
Step 7: What are you saying NO to in 2013 that doesn’t align with you vision?
Step 8: What are you saying YES to in 2013 that aligns with your vision?
Step 9: Review everything you’ve written – add to it, refine it, review it.
Step 10: WRITE your 2013 GOALS; be specific, write WHY it’s important to you, your life journey and those you love.
So. This weekend’s trip to Boston was a deep breath. I took a less touristy approach than my October visit which meant lots of time exploring hidden bookshops’ used theology shelves (oh my joy!), side streets and many mugs of coffee in independent cafes. All in all a lot of quiet, thinking time.
Finishing this goal setting series has been on my heart and in my prayers for weeks. Sunday morning I woke up to snow and I grasped the opportunity to, in a pretty picturesque setting, snuggle up to a blonde roast on the second floor of the Harvard Square Starbucks, tune in to some inspirational music, finish the last of the reflective steps, put my 2013 vision to paper, and write out my goals for this year.
Again, my steps 1-5, are here.
The final steps 6-10 including my vision and goals are below:
6. My 2013 Vision:
Stable. Selfless giver. Graceful & humble. Student of others, the Word and the Spirit. Hardworking. Radiant with God’s joy. My vision is to be a strong, stable, loving & loved servant of God.
7. What I’m saying NO to – what won’t help me realize that vision
- Handling anxiety, stress, worry, emotions and difficult situations impulsively
- The fear of being vulnerable/opening up
- Morning mood swings or lashing out when I’m tired
- Being afraid of all things financial
- Impulsive eating, impulsive purchases
- Negative self-talk, not showing myself grace or giving myself credit
- Ending the day reflecting on the negative
8. What I’m saying YES to – what will propel me forward towards that vision
- Consistent community and fellowship
- Less time spent journaling, more time reading the bible
- Solitude and quiet in the AM – especially my commute
- More ACTIVE listening
- Learning more about strength training, fitness and body science
- Learning more about hormones, nutritional science and clean eating
- 7-8 hours of sleep nightly
- Less social media during the work day and on weekends
- Do “less” at work – take on fewer projects and execute with excellence
- Creative freelancing
- Tithing, seeking financial advice, bargain shopping
- Meal prep
- Consolidation and organization – Google Reader, Lists, Bookmarks, G-Calendar – you are my friends!
And…drumroll please…..Step 10: MY GOALS (and the all important “Whys” behind them)
(disclaimer: these are subject to grow and change…and that’s okay!)
1) I want to learn to manage my finances with Godly wisdom, because the money is not mine. I want tithing to become my second nature and giving above and beyond – where its real sacrifice – to be satisfying to me. I want to start to knock significant chunks away at paying off my college loans, and begin investing in my future husband and family by saving more and spending less. I want to learn to live within and under my means because, frankly, I don’t need much. I want to establish the principle NOW, while I’m young, that money is not and will never be my master.
2) I want to do more creative freelance including digital marketing/UX/branding, social media, and personal branding consulting, and copywriting. Because I LOVE strategy. I love writing, and I want to build a personal portfolio across a few different verticals of personal interest including non-profit, fitness and health, beauty/lifestyle, and small business.
3) I want to do more life/goal planning/fitness and nutrition coaching for women. Learning about these things was a huge piece of 2012 for me, and I feel that I’ve gained enough knowledge to share and lead other women to live better, fuller, healthier lives and to get an approach to food and exercise that is balanced, makes them stronger, and births a confidence and energy that permeates beyond the gym into their entire lives.
4) I want to build my blog at NatalieSink.com and transition it from being a “professional” site that hosts only my resume and portfolio to a fully integrated space where I’ll blog about my faith, topics that interest me, and professional things, too, because my vision for this year requires streamlining my ENTIRE life so that there is no division between my faith, work, passions, free time, relationships and personal interests. I think a non-divided, integrated Christian life is SO biblical and how God intended it – I learned that in a book called Total Truth last summer. It’s also been on my heart to write more…I’m more confident now writing for the public and sharing my heart because of the blessing of confirmation through men and women that what I write resonates with and encourages them, and I want to use this skill to lead others towards goodness in their faith, personal lives, relationships, dreams and professional skills.
5) I want to continue to embrace stability of the mind. Learning to control my mind and let thoughts and truth lead, rather than emotions, was the THEME of 2012…but I know I haven’t learned the lesson in full…it is a lifelong lesson. I want to get better at recognizing lies and beating them actively with God’s truth, so this will mean memorizing more verses and more time in the Word so that it’s fresh in my mind.
6) I want to completely master the impulsiveness of anxiety and worry. People cope in various ways – this is my way as of late. Many women deal with this issue, I think – turning to food, shopping or whatever other habit to get their minds off the root issue and avoid dealing with boredom, conflict, tasks, stress. Impulsiveness is NOT a fruit of the Holy Spirit – but self-control is, and moments of solitude and silence go far. I want to be master worry and anxious moments when they come because impulsiveness does not honor God but being still, quiet, resting, praying, sinking into Truth all do.
7) I want to keep building up my weight training and cardio schedule to 4 x week and keep learning about weight exercises and building because I want to have a body that endures healthfully for a long, long time. I want to have strong muscles and bones when I’m 80. Because I want to be a physically strong wife one day, and a physically strong mother. In the past two months I’ve found that heavy lifting builds more than physical strength – it gives me a strength and confidence that goes with me outside of the gym and permeates my work ethic, personal relationships, character, etc.
8) I want church and church community to be a priority, and I want to learn more about the importance of biblical fellowship and community through a book or bible study because I desperately need to be challenged and grow in this area. Because biblical community pulls me toward the light and walking with other Christians enables me to learn and know God at a more rapid pace and more fully than I can on my own, and because that’s how God designed it – for us to walk through life together. I want to learn to be more vulnerable and less independent.
9) I want to focus on intentional, Christ-centered relationships with my family. I want our conversations to be more than the day to day…I want them to be about the real, meaty challenges of life, our hearts, our faith and to ultimately be leading each one another actively towards Christ. Somehow with family it’s easy to grow lax about learning and walking together. I want to do this because they’ll be in my life forever, and I treasure them and want to be able to say from year to year that our relationships are better than before and more founded on God.
10) I want to learn to play the guitar and to sing more often, because I LOVE it whenever I do and it helps me relieve stress. It’s also a form of worship for me and it brings me a lot of peace and solitude.
11) I want to focus on pouring into others and serving each and every week. This could be anything – through a heart to heart talk at bible study, helping a college student hunt for an internship or review their resume, a volunteer activity at church, or just calling someone I haven’t spoken with in a while to check in. Because God calls us to be servants, He calls us to be outward focused and to consider others better than ourselves. Because no Christian is excused from this…because it is the Spirit-filled life. Because whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did and Jesus served always. Because as a 20-something professional it’s SO EASY to be focused on #1, and I want to adopt a more outward focused life and thought patterns.
12) I want to write and share my testimony with women who need to hear it because God gives us trials so that we can develop perseverance and make us complete; because opening up about my struggles and how God moved in my life honors Him and opens the eyes of others.
13) I want to read more about the pro-life movement, pray consistently about my calling in relation to abortion. I have a specific heart for post-abortive mothers and the grief, guilt and struggle they go through, and I want to clarify how God’s asking me to do something for Him in regard to this this year.
14) I want to STUDY THE BIBLE. Really, really know it. In depth. I want to devote more time to this than anything else. I want to become a student of the Word – not of CS Lewis, EM Bounds, Tim Keller or JD Greear. Those are secondary. I want to KNOW Gods Word and have it on my heart. This will mean journaling less, listing less, reading amazing theology books a little less, and spending more time with just me and my bible in a quiet room. Because the Word is TRUTH, it is my Sword in hard times, it is hope and joy, it is guidance, it is filled with encouragement, it is refreshment and my “food” – I need LOTS of it daily.
15) I want to COOK a LOT! I want to work all the way through 1-2 really amazing, whole foods, clean eating cookbooks this year so that one day I can get to the point where I can just throw something together and know it’ll taste amazing because when I have a family, I want to be able to feed them awesome, good things for their bodies in the most efficient way AND to be able to host dinner parties and events and make my home somewhere where people are welcome.
Ah, it’s so, so wonderful to have these WRITTEN. I feel good about them – really good. They’re the solid, justified product of hours of reflection, uncomfortable honesty and deep thought. I’d idealized having these done at the beginning of January, but it’s actually been a blessing in disguise to sit on these ideas for the past 6 weeks because a lot has changed between now and New Years’ Eve that’s affected my vision of me and my life this year and long-term.
If you like this process and are encouraged by it, I’d highly recommend that you visit Lara’s blog and work through them yourself. It’s NOT too late! You can start these at any time. At the bottom of the post at THIS LINK is a full list of all the posts included in the Making Things Happen Goal Setting series.
I realize that, to some, the whole idea of a “vision” and “goals” and “dreams” seems too calculated and planned. I run into this conversation a lot with Christians, especially, who categorize this type of activity as “overplanning life” and a direct slap in the face of God because it means you’re not trusting that He’ll “work it out” or believing in His sovereignty. I completely disagree. In my experience idleness doesn’t produce anything that honors the Lord. There’s a difference in being quiet and waiting on His direction and simply being lazy.
Lara puts it well: “I believe that to get what we want, we have to ask for the right thing aligned with God’s will and ultimately He says Yes or No, but He wants us to take that leap of faith to make it happen. He gave you the power to choose and to act. Asking for our dreams- realizing our full potential – takes guts. It takes clarity. It takes accepting the fact that you are not in control…but that does not give you a license to rest on your laurels and wait for things to happen to you. It takes a leap of faith.”
And I’ll add to that that I believe that every person has been given unique talents, skills, personality traits, desires and passions that position them to do and be something incredible, and I believe that God honors and blesses us when we chase and ask Him to fulfill our dreams and desires IN HIS WILL. There is a black and white difference between asking the Lord to place you in a high paying, authoritative job so that you can spend your earnings out on self-fulfilling pleasures and feel really great about yourself. But I do believe that to the person who asks the Lord to honor his or her work towards becoming better at whatever they’re gifted at and using their skills and talents to honor Him in that profession will be blessed (NOT just financially, although, yes, God includes blessings of fruit in His promises), IF that path is IN HIS WILL. But that’s is just the thing – you have to MOVE and ASK and KNOCK to find out.
I’ll be candid and say that I do believe that the Lord can and will enlighten us with a specific, clear visions or paths at times in our lives. But I’ve found through experience that most of the time His guidance comes along the journey as we’re moving forward, asking for His will and chasing our dreams to fulfill the desires He gives us.
That’s why I’m writing a vision and goals this year. Because I want to do life well and to make change happen in my heart and in the lives of others – the goals I listed will NOT be easy. I fiddled with my pen before I wrote a couple of them because I knew that writing them in ink would subscribe myself to challenges and being uncomfortable. But I know it will be worth it. Clear vision produces a peace in my heart because everything is streamlined. James 1:8 says “the double minded man is unstable in ALL his ways” – streamlining all my yearly goals with a vision of who I believe the Lord is calling me to be gives me peace about the year ahead and assurance that God will bless my aspirations whether I fail or succeed.
I wrote these goals because I want to be the BEST me I can be – the woman God has destined me to be. First for the Lord and His Kingdom. Second for my family. Third for my close friends and those I affect on a daily basis.
I’d really encourage you to grab this year by the reigns, make it your best one yet – and best does NOT mean without challenge, trial or difficult moments – best means forward progress, personal growth in Godly character, more love and fruits of the Spirit, and more JOY overall in your heart and in the hearts of those you affect. To me, best means knowing myself and the Lord better, and living a fuller life…and to me, that makes goal planning so worth it!
As a shameless side and last note, if you or someone you know is interested in My Step 2 or 3 (see above), please feel FREE to email or leave a comment! firstname.lastname@example.org