Welcome to the time which seems to have been labelled #ChrimboLimbo! Yes, it’s that time where you don’t go back to work in between Christmas and New Year where people seem to have this belief that they don’t know what to do with it.
I love this time of year! As winter sets in, I look forward to this week. It has become a time of rest and reflection and also a time of preparation and projection. The last season of my life has been one that has been bursting with newness and action. It has also been one that has shown up my fears and insecurities and for a while, I lived in a place of responding through my survival instinct both physically and emotionally.
Over the last few days, I’ve had time to write, drink ALOT of coffee, prepare calmly for one of my closest friends’ wedding, and reflect on the year gone. As I have done this I have noticed themes and confirmations for the next year. I have also been (as many do) thinking about goals for 2018. I think I’m arriving in a different place to what I usually come to and this (I believe) came from a Boxing Day revelation:
Resolutions and goals can easily be set from a place of fear, or misplaced hope
I don’t know about you but since Christmas Day, apart from January Sales emails, all I have received has been about resolutions, goals, how to get the life you want this year! Most of them are selling something! Some of them are good, but many of them are telling me to fear something: being overweight, unsuccessful, single or to hope in something often that will make me rich or enrich my bedroom life!
I set my goals and resolutions as a punishment to what I haven’t achieved, fearful of not being ‘enough’, hoping the destination will bring me whatever I believe it gives me that perfect life
It’s not wrong to have goals or resolutions. I will set some because they help keep me on track. However, whatever I set, I want them to be driven from a place of grace and love rather than control and fear.
4 steps to set grace-fuelled goals
Wednesday I found myself in the library, journal open, writing more than I have in the last few months. For the first time in ages, words just flowed as I expressed onto paper what has clearly been filling my heart and mind as I look the end of the year.
I find the outline for Level 10 life helpful to structure areas of my life where I may want to set goals. As I used the headings I began to allow gratitude to overflow into ink, thankfulness for how far I’d come in the last year, thankful for these areas of my life. Repentance weaved its way in and out of paragraphs where I realised I have spoken ill of my body, my home and other areas of my life. I allowed disappointment it’s time for acknowledgement but let grace swallow it up as it turned my perspective to see what had really been there all the time. Thankfulness is powerful.
Before setting any goals; be thankful for what has already been.
Habits & Goals
I realised as I look through my ideas of what some ‘goals’ could be that a lot of them are just habits. Developing healthy habits is a good thing but it is not the same as a goal. Instead, I separated my ideas into goal, habits and acts of obedience (or for non-faith – things I just should have got done by now!). In work, we often use SMARTer goals alongside a few other growth models to help pupils build self-esteem by setting and achieving goals. Know the difference but let both habits and goals come from a place of first loving and appreciating your subject and allow the process of achievement to be saturated in grace.
Notice the Season
As I wrote I kept thinking about how BIG a year was and how as with many others, I start well and then slump, have a push again (usually towards the new academic year) but slump again by the end of the year. Due to this I often end the year feeling negative about the goals or habits I wanted to achieve or form. This year God kept showing me phrases about ‘only taking the next step required’. I often want to run ahead, get to the end (more of that in a post soon to come). This phrase came to mind and as I literally looked ahead at the books on the shelf before me, I focussed in on one in particular: The Great British Year
Instead of marking goals by yearly cut-offs, need to tune in more to what each season holds for me. This will require intentionality, accountability and community but I feel it is more grace-fuelled than striving for a whole year. I wonder if on the whole, it will be better for me; body, soul and mind.
Set goals based on your season in life and don’t be swayed by trends!
Keep a Journal
Today was one of my favourite days in this week of reflection and projection. It was the day I set aside to read through my 2017 journal. Journalling for me is my way of unloading everything in my heart, creating, crying out, letting my mind process everything. Sometimes it’s not an easy read, especially if I am mid-process, however, I realised today, it often ends in a place of hope.
There are some points in life where I need to give myself grace. Today as I read my journal I realised I have berated myself for feeling tired in the last season – yet so much has been packed into it, looking back its no surprise!
Reading back through the year has meant my goals are being set from a positive and faith led place of joy achievement and grace.
My journal has also shown me that I have grown this year, that I have continually come back to my theme for 2017 (focus), that even in the down times and dark times I have been upheld. That even when I have believed lies, the battle has not been fought alone and I have always come through. That hope does not disappoint, and love does not fail.
Photo by Eepeng Cheong on Unsplash