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Preparing for the Future

DSC_4140This past weekend, I sat down with my new iBloom life and business planner to figure out what I was going to do in the year to come. The front of the planner has a whole section on reflecting on 2013 and my and God’s vision for 2014. It really made me think about where I want to go, where God wants me to go, and what changes I need to make. That’s a lot to think about if I do say so myself. It left me with a fried brain, but a sound mind and hopeful heart.

I know a lot of people think it is foolish to make New Year’s Resolutions because no one ever follows through. Why set yourself up for failure right at the beginning of the year? I’m likely to agree with them, but I find myself holding back. Without a time for setting goals, when would we reflect on how things have gone and what changes we need to make? Nobody is perfect. God is constantly molding and shaping us, preparing us for eternity. We cant’ stay where we are, no matter how much we try.

By reflecting on the past year, we can see what went well, what went poorly, and what needs to change. From the need for change, we set goals for ourselves. Then we get caught up in life, backslide, get frustrated, throw our hands up, and quit. I think we set ourselves up for failure because we have too high of expectations and not the

Myth #1: I have to be perfect.

We decide that we need to lose weight. And to do that, we have to go on some diet and exercise. First week of January, we’re going strong! We’ve gotten rid of all the sugar and processed foods in the house. We’re filling up on whatever diet savvy foods are available. Promptly at a certain time each day, we head to the gym or pull out the treadmill. But then, during the second or third week, something comes up. A dinner party, illness blows through the family, deadline at work . . . essentially, life happens. Suddenly, we find ourselves scarfing down a hamburger in between appointments and our gym shorts are sitting on top of the dryer. Life moves in and motivation moves out. Slowly, but surely, we give up. We say it can’t be done. Better luck next year.

Truth #1: New Year’s Resolutions are meant for the entire year (or some other allotted timeline).

See, here’s the thing. When you set a goal, you have to give it a time frame. Most New Year’s Resolutions could be said “by next year.” So, if I say I want to lose weight “by next year,” then I have a whole year to accomplish this goal. Now, that’s not an excuse for procrastination–waiting until October to try to lose 30 lbs., just isn’t going to work. However, it does allow for imperfection. Sure, I may lose 10 lbs. in January, but then life happens and I don’t lose any weight in February, gain a couple pounds in March, but then I get back on track in April and lose another 5 lbs., and so on. Backsliding can be discouraging, but if we allow ourselves to acknowledge that we are not perfect, and that it is perfectly acceptable to start over or try again, we can renew our resolve and move on toward that goal. It’s all a work in progress.

Myth #2: All the goals have to be accomplished now.

So, I’ve made up 3 goals for different aspects of my life: Health, Family, Work, Spiritual, Financial, and Personal. That’s 18 goals in all. Go me! I’m going to start a whole new life on January 1! Until I realize how hard it is. I’ve made all these changes, nothing is the same, and I’m exhausted by the end of the first week. What now?  I can’t go through that all again. It’s too much!

Truth #2: Mini-goals or working certain goals in certain months will make transitions easier.

As human beings, we crave comforts and abhor change. We make it more difficult on ourselves when we try to change everything all at once. If we can break big goals into smaller steps to be made periodically (say once a month), then we can make progress without overwhelming ourselves, giving us a better chance for success. Another option (either to combine with the mini-steps or on its own), is to work on only a couple of goals a month. Again, this is so we don’t overwhelm ourselves.

Myth #3: I don’t need any kind of accountability or follow-up system.

Hello, it’s April, where are your resolutions now?

Resolutions? What resolutions? Oh yeah, I guess I wanted to lose weight, write that book, finish that project, etc.

Truth #3: We need to have a way to evaluate where we are and where we need to be going. Truth is, most of us can’t make major changes on our own. Some need the support of others, who will check in on them and keep them accountable. At the very least, though, everyone needs a follow-up system. We need to sit down every so often (again, like once a month) and say, “Hey, this is what I’ve accomplished so far, but I still need to do this.” Write those goals down, write down the follow-up information as well! Give yourself the tools to make you successful!

I was going to break this article down into two pieces, but I forgot to post last week (one of my new goals is to be more consistent). Thank you for sticking it out with this longer piece. Next week, the NAF writers are going to share some of their writing-related goals for the new year. Stay tuned!

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About Ralene Burke

Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a freelance editor’s sword, or a social media wand, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to make it SHINE! She has worked for a variety of groups, including Realm Makers, The Christian PEN, Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, and as an editor for a number of freelance clients. Her first novel, Bellanok, is being published as a 4-part serial! When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . .

6 comments on “Preparing for the Future

  1. Thanks, Ralene. I’m wary of New Year resolutions because they so rarely last through the first month, but I’m seeing the need for some goals of my own this year. It’s good to see someone else feeling the same way.

    • I strongly recommend setting goals. You just have to find the system that works for you. Just saying on Jan. 1, I’m going to “insert goal” will not work. Success needs a little more planning and follow-up!

  2. I keep a running To Do list, which is pretty much like having set goals, but long-range goals are harder. Right now, I have a trainload of bowling balls in the air and I really can’t set goals too far in the future because I don’t know which bowling balls are coming down when. Too much is out of my control.

    • I know you’re life is crazy! It’s good to have a running to-do list–that definitely helps. Maybe setting goals and breaking them down into smaller steps (as you are able) will help you stay balanced and not feel so overwhelmed. At least you have that to-do list!

  3. […] to reflect on the past year, the good and the bad, and set up a plan for the future. If you read my post last week, well then, you already  know about why I think resolutions don’t […]

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