It’s stashed in a faded plastic bucket in the attic, its pages dog eared, spine cracking, the edges peeling. It’s my diary from several years of my childhood, an image of that 70’s ‘It Girl’ Holly Hobbie gracing its retro cover with its broken snap button latch. Inside you’ll find entries of over written angst, a variety of handwriting attempts, disclosures of crushes, recounts of dreams.
And you’ll find some goals.
At the top of the year, for several years, as recorded in this archive, are written the things I was going to get better at. Or stop doing. Or start doing.
If I’m reading the written record right, most of those goals and resolutions didn’t last too long.
According to psychologists and researchers, a whole slew of us make resolutions this time of the year. And only 8% of us will see those resolutions through.
Statistically defeated before we’ve even really started.
But as I look back on the variety of resolutions and goals and plans and programs I’ve instituted and dropped and reinstituted and redropped through the years, even back to that childhood Holly Hobbie tome, I’ve come to realize something.
In all that planning and resolving, I missed it.
I make a goal to fit back into that pair of jeans.
But what’s the intention? A size number? A callback to a thinner time?
I make a resolution to be more organized, to clear out that closet…or that labyrinth of a garage.
But am I making that resolution based on my blog envy of home design sites?
Now we’re really getting to the core of it.
Too often, I’m making goals based on what I perceive to be expectations of others. Or a number. Or my interpretation of what I see as someone else’s fulfilled, seemingly perfect life. If I can just get the optics right, then any murkiness in the undersurface of my life will clear up.
We’re just a few pages into this fresh book of a year. So pause with me. Let’s recalibrate those resolutions before we move forward. Let’s get clear on the intentions that need to proceed the goals.
1. What is the deeper seed beneath the result I want?
Look, I’m a numbers girl when it comes to my goals. I want to see a certain number of miles run, a certain number on the tag of my jeans, a certain number of days I’ve acted on or refrained from a certain behavior. Numbers can be motivating and a great way to keep score.
But they’re just numbers.
What is the deeper seed?
For miles run or jeans worn, it’s about living a healthier lifestyle. Or learning a stronger self-discipline. For abstaining a certain number of days from an activity, it can often be about wanting to please God more than continuing an unhealthy behavior. Whatever number you may be resolving toward, search for what that number represents.
2. What is my intention for how this will serve others?
Sometimes we can develop goals and plans that unintentionally become very ‘me-focused’. And while we should always be striving toward personal growth and discovery, at the end of the day, it should be for the purpose of loving others well and being in our best place emotionally, physically, and spiritually to serve. What is your intention for using your better health, greater self-discipline, cleaner house, number of books read for the year? What is your intention for the serving of others?
3. Is this something that I’ve prayed about and sought God for? Or is this something I’m trying to achieve of my own effort?
I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve come up with my ideas for the New Year…and failed to talk to God about it. Oh, maybe I’ve informed Him about what I’m doing, but that’s a far different thing than seeking His direction. And then I head out into the resolution wilderness, determined that I can accomplish this to-do list with my own effort, my own discipline, my own heading.
Which is hilarious.
Since I know the number of times before that that approach hasn’t worked.
My most fulfilling endeavors have come when I’ve prayed for and sensed a heading from God, and then when I rely on Him for the spiritual strength to accomplish what has been revealed. In all of it, my intention should be to grow closer to Him, to walk where He wants me to walk, to live the best life He has intended for me.
So pull out that piece of paper you’ve headed with 2017, whether actual paper or mental. Take a quick inventory of what you’ve placed there.
And then mark it up.
Define your intention.
And let the new year begin.