It’s December and we’re fast approaching one of my favorite weeks of the year — that week between December 26 to January 1, when the world seems to slow down a bit and we all get to take a rest and enjoy our friends and family. With the Christmas stress behind us, we now have a little extra time to also begin to think about and plan for the upcoming year.
When my children were home, I especially looked forward to this final week of the year because it was the one and only week where there were no ballgames, no practices, no school, homework or even church activities. It was just a quiet time to be with the family and reflect.
I find that I don’t get anything done unless I put it on a list somewhere. Therefore, I’ve been a goal-setter and a list-maker most of my adult life.
Several years ago, when I first started to write out my goals, I wrote some down for that year that I thought were big, but reachable, in a journal and then tucked it into a drawer and pretty much forgot about it. That year I also made another list in the same journal. These were some prayers for the year. Here I listed the things that I knew would never happen unless God intervened. They were situations that were important to me, but I had little or no control over them. At the end of the year, I happened to pull out the journal and looked at both my lists. I found that I had not achieved one single goal on that list! I then looked at my prayer list and discovered, to my amazement, that every prayer had been answered! It seems that God is more faithful to me than I am to myself.
From that experience, I decided that I should ask the Lord’s direction before I started making a list of things I’d like to do and I needed to put the goals in sight so I could see them throughout the year. Asking God can be scary because what if He wants me to do something I don’t want to do, I am uncomfortable doing, or I feel inadequate to accomplish? Most assuredly He will because He’s always wanting us to grow. Asking is the easy part. Obeying is harder.
Goal setting with a twist
Goals are important because they keep us from drifting through life and wasting away our days. They give us a sense of direction, purpose, and accomplishment. Our lives are enriched when we make plans to use our talents and gifts to do more for the good of others and become a better version of ourselves. It’s futile, however, to say that we’ve failed if we don’t reach all of our goals, because the journey toward them can be fulfilling and rewarding itself, even if we don’t reach every one of them every time.
As retirees, we often find ourselves busier in retirement than when we were working. Perhaps we have a lot of interests and try to do everything we’ve ever dreamed of. It seems like we have an infinite amount of time now. But we don’t. There are still just twenty-four hours in a day. We’re limited by time, space and resources. Goals help us prioritize what’s important to us.
You probably set a lot of goals with your job while you were working. But have you carried that discipline over to your personal life now that you are retired?
If not, why not take the last week of the year to seek God’s plans for you for 2023 and beyond? How would He have you serve Him next year. If you like to travel, ask Him where you should go? Is there an area the Lord would want you to grow spiritually? Are there classes or trainings you should take? What about your health? It’s more than just losing weight. Are there foods that you should eliminate or begin to include in your diet? Should you begin exercising more or less? Perhaps you love to read, but you can’t read everything. What books should you read in 2023? Or is there a book you should write?
Prayerfully begin to write out your goals in each of these seven categories: spiritual, financial, family, social, physical, intellectual, and work or hobby. Start with a dream goal and then add a five and/or ten year goal. A dream goal is not something you’ll be able to achieve this year, but something exciting to work toward for the future. Dream about where you want to be years from now in each category. Long range goals are just as important in this stage of life as when we’re younger. From these goals you can set your yearly goals. Just make sure each goal is specific, measurable, and with a time limit.
For an exciting, fulfilling and prosperous 2023, dream big, write those goals, make those plans, and seek God with each one. And when things don’t go as planned, don’t fret. As the verse below reminds us, God may just be redirecting your steps.
A man’s heart plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.Proverbs 16:9