“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” (Edith Lovejoy Pierce)
The beginning of a new year ushers in feelings of excitement, and, as just mentioned, opportunity. I personally feel like I can conquer the world as I plan out my goals and strategize for the upcoming year. I, like many of you, do it annually. I set aside time in December and make lists upon lists upon lists of what I’m going to make happen. The lists always have three characteristics in common: ambitious, lofty, and prior to this year, unrealistic. Yes, unrealistic. I pile tasks on as if I have nothing else to devote my time to, but each one. That is neither realistic, nor advisable. And inevitably, I end up disappointed. So I’ve decided this year to set goals that are definitely ambitious, perhaps even lofty, yet within the realm of attainable, especially with a plan.
First, I will spend several days seeking God about what His plans are for me this year. In the past I’ve had a bad habit of deciding what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it. Instead of seeing God’s plans as an invitation to please Him, I saw them as an interruption of what I was focused on.
Next, after seeking His direction, I will set three main goals for this year. Granted there will be several smaller goals emanating from the main ones. But again, the purpose is to help me focus and inspire me to achieve; not overwhelm me to the point of apathy. For example, three main goals may be: 1) to eradicate half of the debt I have, 2) to write two screenplays, and 3) to lose 20 pounds. You might think, “is that all? I can lose that amount of weight in 3 months.” Or, “I can pay down that debt in 6 months.” Really? Can you? And if you can attain it, can you remain in that state? Typically the answer is no. I am making goals I can obtain and maintain.
So I have my ending point for next December 31. But where do I begin? The next step is to backtrack. If I want to write that screenplay, how long do I give myself? Three months? Okay, so where does that mean I should be at the end of one month? The outline stage? Starting my first draft? These questions typify what I mean when I say backtrack. I nail down what I have to do within each month, down to each week, to realistically make this goal happen. Pinpointing with such specificity does two things. First, it keeps me accountable to ensure I am constantly working towards my goal. Secondly, if I get off track, I can see exactly where I need to pick up, as opposed to being lost and just “starting all over again.”
Now I’m ready to talk to my husband, and make any potential plan modifications that are necessary. If you’re married, your goals can hardly be set in a vacuum. And if you have kids, even more so. All other schedules, desires, goals, and insights must be considered. If you’re single, you may want to examine your involvement in other clubs or organizations, to ensure the time given there will line up with your goals for yourself.
And finally, you go for it! Write your beautiful story of success, victory, triumph and achievement on the blank pages of that book. Make it pages worth reading. And chapters that will please you, and ultimately, your Heavenly Father.