Let me start by wishing you the best year yet in 2017! Next, I am making a new commitment to post to my blog at least once a week. Since I have not posted since mid October, I apologize to any readers who had expectations of more from me. Last year was full of unexpected and mostly intense storms and challenges as often happens when we change direction or take new steps towards fulfilling our purpose. This is a new year with new beginnings. My hope is that what I share here will help others to improve their lives as it has tremendously helped mine.
How do you start your new year? Is it just another day? or, do you have some rituals around this time, like making resolutions and letting go of some things from the past year(s)? I have done a little of both this year with the help of direction I have received the last week through my relationship with God. God seems to be speaking more clearly than ever before. In reality I think God always speaks clearly, but our ability to hear seems clearer and more frequent as we grow in how we listen and, more importantly, how often we listen and how seriously we take what we hear. It also depends on if we follow, however imperfectly, the guidance we receive,, as we move following the direction we receive in our spirit.
We can always start over again or continue from where we are, which is why the new year mark in time gives us a sense of a new beginning which we can start any day or month of the year. Experiencing the ‘success’ and gifts from following this always available guidance, we become even more encouraged and desirous to do so. We also hear increasingly more clearly and timely the guidance we can have every moment of our lives to help us experience and participate in an extraordinary life, no matter the circumstances.
Do you set goals or resolutions for the coming months and year?
Having sought direction for my life for many years out of crisis and necessity, it has become an ongoing process of listening and responding more frequently as I discover the increasing success and incredible improvement in my life possible when I do. But sometimes, like the start of a new year, I want to take some extra time to look at my goals in life.
Following is a process I have learned to develop new goals in life. In business I learned to use what is called Management by Objective (MBO) considering more tangent, financial and intellectual aspects and using mostly the mind to develop specific measurable outcomes. The method below, however, which can also be used in business, relies more heavily on spiritual discernment using all parts of our selves and considering all areas of one’s life. Spiritual discernment is often very specific when practiced more frequently but in this (annual detailed) context is more general in nature which produces easily visualized targets not defined so specifically. Developing more specific goals can often limit the flexibility needed to live a full and prosperous life day by day.
As an example, Having developed very specific goals over the years, I seldom accomplished them the way I envisioned, or at all. But as I relied more on God, being more flexible and seeking the specific guidance day by day or even moment by moment, I discovered I was accomplishing more of my desired goals and even better ones I had not imagined in ways I could not have planned on my own. I have come to believe only God has all the knowledge needed to make a perfect plan encompassing all aspects of our lives over every moment given the unexpected (to us) events, choices and people we encounter every day. I can attest by my experiences that the guidance and support I need in any situation are more easily discerned and available as I grow in following God every day. It brings strength, comfort, peace and hope whatever storm or crisis is happening, like the ones I just went through,
If you are not living life daily this way, you can start this new year bringing God into your goal setting process and see what happens. Below is a more detailed process for taking more time to develop goals for all aspects of one’s life using discernment in your spirit in the process. You can also do this with each area of your life going through the process in each area. Do whatever seems or feels more appealing to your self, a very important part of achieving success with anything you do. Trying different methods at different times given various situations can be very productive with a coach to guide you. You can always rely on God to be your coach as your relationship with God grows more and more intimate, doing things I like to teach based on my experiences trying various methods and disciplines.
- Take a few moments to connect with God asking for wisdom about your future.
- Ask some specific questions of God and your self. Ask for wisdom about a specific problem or area you want or need to look at. Or, ask what is my purpose and how can I better fulfill it? What is lacking in my life? What do I want more of? What changes would help my life improve? Alternatively you can ask how to make specific changes in a specific area you find difficult, disturbing or creating discontent.
- Spend some quality time listening to God in your spirit and to your inner self: your soul, which consists of your mind, heart and will; seeking the inner desires, thoughts and feelings for your future. You can do this with meditation, listening as thoughts and feelings arise, asking yourself what you desire for the future and spend time meditating in silence, or, do meditative journaling (not editing or trying to control what you write) jotting down in phrases or key ideas what you hear and feel within, arising in your mind and heart.
- Journaling after meditation is always helpful to retain what often disappears as we immerse ourselves into activity of daily life. Write down more clearly and add detail to what you ‘received’ during the meditative listening stage.
- Repeat 1-4 several times, perhaps over several days, or until your thoughts start to narrow down to a few major ideas, or pick just one that seems to have more weight in your soul.
- Again meditatively asking for God’s guidance, write down whatever goals or boundaries you have discerned through the previous steps. You might break these out or organize these goals and boundaries into various areas or aspects of your life, such as relating to body, mind, emotions, health, finances, career, family, hobbies, classes of activities, relationships, etc., whatever seems to fit what you have been journalling. To make this easier as a beginner you could just do this for one life area or goal that seems to ‘want’ your attention. Having a coach to give some input or feedback is helpful, but no coach knows exactly what is best for any of us except God who is really our best Head Coach.
- Goals should be clear, often measurable and always achievable (in your mind and heart) or you will get discouraged or lose interest in maintaining these as your overall objectives. Goals are set for achieving certain results in a specific area of your life or in specific activities that you sense through this process are needing your attention for fulfilling your purpose or improving enjoyment of life.
- Boundaries are any kind of limitations, quantity or restrictions to help you achieve your goals in any area of your life, such as behaviors, habits, relationships, activities, emotional patterns or specific uses of your time or resources. They can also be guideposts or reference points like a plumb line is to building a wall. These usually surface regarding improving or changing the quality of your life in a certain area that seems troubling or not supporting well your life’s purpose or enjoyment.
- Distill what you have journaled into less than 5 goals with related boundaries. As an alternative you can identify 5 areas of your life and develop a goal and related boundaries for each. You can always add more as the year progresses and you find some goals and boundaries have been achieved and you are ready for more progress towards your best lived life, but do not readdress this in this much detail too often or you will probably get discouraged and build discontent about your life or become too disoriented by changing direction too frequently, not allowing time to absorb or sink into the wisdom of your discernment. As an alternative, list one goal with related boundaries if it seems best for you.
- Ask God to help you daily as you move towards your goals listening for refinement as you practice daily living with your goals in mind. I have found if I focus hard and work on my goals in my own strength with my own plans alone they become elusive and more difficult to achieve compared to when I let my Head Coach, God, lead me, providing all the resources necessary in perfect timing along the way for greater enjoyment of my life.
- Try to enjoy your improved life as it is developing without constantly trying to improve your self or your life continually. Not enjoying your progress builds a sense of dissatisfaction and discontent. Having a ‘new year’ beginning is really just the start of a new month and a new day but it is a helpful starting place if you have not done anything like this recently.
- You can do this at any time of the year, not just January. You may be currently in the middle of a storm or crisis and it might be best to wait until things settle down. This process can also be used to address a storm or crisis by limiting the areas of your discernment to the specific area involved. As you develop a closer relationship with your Head Coach, God, you will find the guidance you need in crisis and storms provided more easily with more joy and peace along the way. I repeat: I can attest by my experiences that the guidance and support I need in any crisis are more easily discerned and available as I grow in following God every day. It brings strength, comfort, peace and hope whatever crisis is happening, like the ones I just went through.
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