I didn’t post anything last Monday. It was Easter Monday, and it seems the holiday threw off my routine. Apparently I don’t do posts on holiday Mondays. That’s my thing.
But, I am posting today, and I’m back with a new Monday Musing! My first musing asked where you envision yourself to be in 3 years, followed by the question of what you’re doing to get there. So, assuming you answered those questions, you have an idea of where you want to be and what steps you need to take to get there. Today’s question is, “When are you going to do those things?” I’ve hinted at the necessity of this question in other posts on this blog, but the truth is, if something doesn’t get scheduled onto our calendar, it doesn’t get done.
So, let’s say three years from now, you want to have written a novel. You’ve decided that you need to complete a chapter every two months. Often we stop here and wonder why we never accomplish the goal. It’s a great goal. A chapter every 2 months sounds concrete. But it’s still not specific enough. The essential follow up to that goal is to decide when you are going to get down to the nitty gritty of writing those chapters? This week, when are you going to write? What day? What time? For how long? We need those concrete action steps in order to make any progress.
Let’s say you have a DIY renovation project to complete. You’d like your basement to be finished a year from now. You lay out all the steps that need to be done in which months. Month 1: framing. Month 2: electrical. Month 3: plumbing. Month 4: insulating. Month 5: drywall. Month 6: painting. Whatever steps come next…I probably should have used an example I’m more familiar with…you get the idea. It sounds awesome, but how many days will it take you to frame? What days in month 1 are you committed to framing? Put it in your calendar. Maybe you’ll discover as you try to find blocks of time in your schedule that you don’t have nearly enough time to finish the framing in one month. Well, that’s very helpful information! Now you know, either something else has to be cleared from your calendar to make room, or your goal has to be revisited. Do you need 18 months to finish the basement? Do you need to hire out some of the work? Do you need to give up watching Survivor this season so you can fit in renovations? There are lots of options to consider. Too often, we simply don’t plan it out realistically, and end up discouraged and assume we cannot achieve the goals we set.
So what are some of your big goals? Are you a student with books to read and papers to write? Are you an entrepreneur with prospects to call and a logo to design? Are you a parent with life skills to impart and love to express? Whatever is impressed upon your heart to work toward, figure out the steps you need to take to get there, and schedule time into your calendar every day or every week to take those steps.
The thing that I have found most rewarding about this 3 part process of clarifying goals, identifying steps, and blocking out time to work on them, is not just that I’m accomplishing my goals, but that I have more peace of mind in my daily living. I know that I am going about living my life with my big goals in mind, and I’m taking the necessary steps to achieve them. I don’t feel like a slave to the urgent. I rest at the end of the day, knowing I didn’t get to everything clamoring for my attention, but I did get to the things I’ve prioritized for this season. And in our very busy and sometimes overwhelming world, that is no small thing.
Last Monday I posted a question that led you to consider where you envision yourself in 3 years. Typically, when people envision their future, they imagine things will be different than they are in the present. Not necessarily in all ways, but at least in some ways. Depending on how much of your life you see as currently being on track, your vision may range from slightly different to drastically different than your present reality.
Let’s assume for a moment that there are at least 2 or 3 things that you hope will be different, or improved 3 years from now. My question for you today is, “What are you doing to make that happen?” What steps are you taking to move in that direction? Let’s say, for example, that 3 years from now you hope to be debt-free. If you continue to live each day, each week, each month, and each year the way you currently live, will you have made your vision a reality in 3 years? It may be that your answer is yes. You are currently making more money than you spend, and diligently paying off your debt, and can see a date in the future when you will have conquered that debt. But if you are currently in debt, are earning less than you spend each month, and are making no changes to your situation, then your vision of a debt free 2017 is quite unlikely to materialize.
Or maybe 3 years from now you envision yourself healthy and fit. Are you currently making healthy choices? Do you take care of yourself and workout? If your answer is no, and health is part of your future vision, then what changes are you going to make to take your health in a different direction? Do you envision yourself in a meaningful marriage relationship years down the road? Are you currently make time with your spouse a priority? Do you see yourself committed to Jesus and the church and growing spiritually? Are you presently fostering habits of prayer and reading God’s Word and worshiping with a local church community? Do you have hopes that 3 years from now your children will be well grounded in their faith and discovering their strengths and passions? Are you currently investing time in relationship and intentionally teaching them the life lessons you believe they will need? Whatever your vision includes, it will only ever remain an unattainable hope if you don’t take steps now to move toward it.
We’ve probably all heard the quote attributed to Einstein that says, “The definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviors and expecting a different outcome.” If we never take the time to make the connection between what we envision for our future and what we are currently doing, we will likely end up somewhere very different than we’d hoped. Our preferred future will only come to pass if we work at it. Of course, life happens, and many things may come up along the way that prevent you from reaching your vision. There is no guarantee that you will achieve the things you plan for. But, you can certainly guarantee that you won’t reach it if you do nothing.
One warning about today’s musing: do not put this off! We can easily be deceived into thinking that there is a time coming when we won’t feel so busy or stressed. Before I had kids I used to think that I’d have so much more time to focus on my personal goals when I was staying at home and not working. Please pick yourself up off the floor and stop laughing at me. I know! What can I say? I was naive. But then I had small kids and thought I’d have more time and energy when my kids went into preschool. That mysteriously did not happen. Then I thought, perhaps when they are both a bit older? I’m sure there are people in my life stage who think they’ll have more time for personal goals when their kids are teenagers. Or when the kids move out. Or maybe when this really busy time at work comes to a close. Or when this family member is not needing so much attention. Or when this school work is finished. Or in the summer. Or in the winter. Or in a house. Or with a mouse. Or in a boat. Or with a goat. Seriously, you need to know that there is no magical time coming when you will feel less busy, or believe the time is just right to really capture a vision, set some goals, and make some changes. The only time is right now. You can either make changes to work toward the kind of life you feel called to live, or you can let life pull you in whatever direction it sees fit. You can get intentional about where you want your life to go, or drift along wherever circumstances take you. It’s totally up to you. Everyone on the planet is given the same amount of time in their day. Many have greater responsibilities than you do. Don’t make excuses for yourself. Make changes! Decide where you want to go and figure out what steps you need to take to get there. Next week we’ll talk about how to take those steps.
If you’ve read the “About Jen & This Blog” section on my home page, you’ll have read this: “This blog is where I write about sorting through the clutter and noise of our culture to hear what God is really asking of us. About discovering our greatest passions and seeing the vision God has for our lives. And about taking the sometimes scary steps to make that vision a reality.” Helping people discover their calling and make changes in their lives to reflect that calling is one of my very favorite things. And if I can use this blog in some way to help people along in finding their purpose and taking the tough steps, then I would be so grateful.
With that mind, I’m starting a weekly series on this blog called “Monday Musings.” I will pose one question every Monday, meant for reflection, that will contribute to you living your best life. To discovering your greatest calling. If you feel so inclined, I’d love to read the answers you’ve come up with to the Monday Musing, in the comments section. It’s so inspiring to read the conclusions other people are coming to, while we’re asking ourselves the same question!
So, our first Monday Musing question is this: What do envision your life to be like in 3 years? I believe so strongly in the power of vision! It is vital for a church, a business, a family, and an individual to have a sense of where they are going and what they are working towards. So I challenge you to consider where you are headed. Write down where you see yourself a few years from now. Think about your family, your work, your friends, your personal development, your spiritual growth- every aspect of your life. What do you want to be different? What do you want to be the same? What do you want to be deeper, richer, improved? What do you want to be removed, less consuming, lighter? What do you want more of or less of?
Capturing a vision is the first step in discovering the passions God has planted in us. It’s not the last step, by a long stretch, but it is a significant starting point. So I challenge you to ask yourself this question, write down your thoughts, and get ready for lots more Monday Musings.