Why I Am Starting This Year Without New Goals

Sometimes we get so excited to execute new goals that we set ourselves up for failure.

When I was a teen, our pastor announced that he was going to focus on the fruits of the Spirit. Each week he would discuss a different fruit.

Well, I was humble enough to know there was some room for improvement in my life, even if I thought I was well on my way to being practically perfect.

So, I devised a plan for myself. Or a goal.

Each week I would focus on learning and practicing the fruit discussed that week. Within nine weeks, I would have mastered those 9 different fruits and would be able to then focus on improving myself in other ways. (Like learning to speak German well enough to raise bilingual children!)

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

Executing my plan and setting the goal.

 

Well things started out pretty good, with the first fruit being love.

My heart was already pretty much full of love. At my tender age I didn’t have any enemies I hated. And while my siblings would get on my nerves, I still loved them.

The first week coasted by and I thought things were going just fine. I seemed to have this love fruit down. Maybe a tweak here or there, but basically one fruit mastered.

The second week was joy. Yes, the pastor talked about joy in trials, which I was experiencing none of at the moment, but I was pretty certain that I would be joyful during a hard trial. Afterall, I was a cup-half-full kind of girl. A spot-the-positive, and keep-moving type.

Yup, I had joy and love down. This developing new fruit goal was cruising along like a freshly released frisbee.

Week three arrived. Peace. I inwardly laughed. Were these fruits all going to be so easy?

I looked inward and examined my heart. I was at peace with the world. At peace with my peers, family, teachers, and authority. Peace reigned in my heart. I slept well and wasn’t really to worried about much.

Well except that I was anxious that Jesus might return before I had a chance to grow up and really get to live life. I was hoping he would delay his coming until I had at least gotten married. Or got to live life more than currently had.

Three fruits accomplished. Six more to go.

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

Hitting a goal snag.

 

Week four was about longsuffering. Or as the pastor said, extreme patience.

Well my teen ears perked up. I was after all, a patient person. Living in a family with six siblings and only two bathrooms, one had to be.

Then he droned on about how longsuffering meant having already, or showing, patience during troubles, but especially towards troubles caused by other people.

Well that caused me to suck my breath inward. Maybe I had finally hit upon a fruit that would challenge me and take a bit of work.

Well I was one who enjoyed a challenge. I was pretty sure I had this.

But it turned out I was wrong.

That week clearly showed I was not oozing over with long-suffering. Patience was not a virtue I had mastered. And as the individual week days were crossed off, it became apparent, even to my over rated self-concept, that patience would not be checked off, or accomplished, within my seven-day window for self-improvement.

By now, you are probably laughing at me. And right you should be.

Because by the end of those nine weeks, I had not mastered patience. (Or as I realized years later, any of those other nine fruits.)

Maybe because I had too much schoolwork. To many siblings. Or I was confronted with too many situations that required patience (I was thinking one situation a day would provide better mastery).

But most likely, because we can’t develop patience in a week. (Although before children, I did think I was a rather patient person. Parenthood, though, helped me realize the truth.)

Here it is years later, and I am still struggling with being patient. In fact, I will be struggling with learning and displaying the fruits of the Spirit until I am called home.

Partly because they don’t come naturally. They are instead a struggle. A doing what I don’t want to do, but know I should do.

It seems so many things in life are like this.

A struggle. An unnatural fight against myself.

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

When does your year and goal setting start?

 

With the start of a new year, I keep reading about setting goals. Keep hearing about the goals others are setting. And have been asked about my goals for this new year.

I don’t know about you, but January does not seem like a new year for me, but a continuation of the last year. My year instead, seems to follow the academic calendar. For me, the beginning of a new school year feels like a new year.

That’s when I am setting goals and trying new things. Committing to do things differently.

Probably because I am a mother and my life revolves around the school year. Maybe because I am a teacher.

While others are setting goals and endeavoring to accomplish and do things differently, this January I am not setting any big goals. I am just continuing to carry on and complete the goals I set last August and September.

Here’s what I have been asking myself:

*. what has been working in my life?

*. And in what areas can I keep improving?

These are the questions that are keeping me on course.

Around last fall, I started yoga, and find it very relaxing and beneficial. So, I want to continue it. Maybe even add another class time.

I also started deciding a loose meal plan for the week. I pull out 5-8 different dinner recipes, and then each morning I choose which to make for that day. I like the flexibility of being able to select which meal works best for that day and the amount of time I have.

Walking more. I have always been a walker, but often with others. This fall I started walking more by myself, and find I like the time to think and contemplate. Sometimes I listen to a podcast. But I am finding I enjoy it and want to keep improving in this area. Especially now that it is winter, and I am walking less outside.

I was doing such a good job of taking breaks and getting outside several times a day. Even just a few minutes can be such a head clearer and mood changer. With winter, though, I need to improve in this area.

Staying off my phone on weekends and later evenings has been working and I want to continue this habit.

Remembering to greet God hello first thing in the morning and pray for a few friends before I get out of bed is something, I also want to continue.

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

How not to fail at your goals.

 

There is a joy and excitement in setting new goals. And there is a joy and excitement in seeing that you are making progress. That some things are working in your life. That you can modifying and stop goals that are not serving their purpose.

I don’t know which place you are in. Making new goals, or working on old goals, but I do know that lots of small steps will eventually accomplish big things and over time develop large changes.

Reading one chapter a day, may not seem like much, but it will get you through about 30 books in a year.

Often our goals, or life changes, take more than a week or nine. Or even six months. Things like being a good mother. Eating healthy. Getting in shape. Living debt free. Losing weight. Starting a business. Worrying less.

These are more life time goals, or a period of life goals. Not easily accomplished in a small amount of time.

There is a big difference between a to-do list item and a goal. One can be accomplished in the short-term. Things like cleaning a closet. Finishing a book. Attending today’s yoga class. Eating a healthy dinner. Goals, though, take many days of effort and consciously making the right choice time and time again. Like being physically fit. Organizing and cleaning the whole house. Reading 20 books in a year.

Tasks can be done and crossed off short-term. Goals require making a conscious choice to complete steps towards the goal day after and day.

And here is another sticky trap about goals. We can’t get healthy after a week of eating kale and chia seed smoothies. It takes making good food choices for the long-term. It requires a change to the way we think about our food and choose our food. It requires forming new habits.

And that is hard. And it is one reason we get discouraged and give up on our goals.

So many goals require doing them long-term, or maybe life term. We won’t just wake up suddenly having reached our patient-threshold after years of trying to be patient and can now quit thinking about being patient ever again.

We won’t wake up with an organized and clutter free house and never have to devote any more energy again on that task. No, we will be tossing things we don’t need or want for the rest of our life if we want it to stay organized and clutter free.

So, keep plodding away. Slow and steady wins.

And once in a while, look back and see how far you have come. (But always, give yourself grace. No shame allowed.)

You do that, and I’ll keep working on conquering the fruit of patience.

Achieving a goal requires the conscious choice to complete steps toward that goal day after day.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 


Having trouble enjoying life? Reconciling your current reality with how you wish life really was? Get a free PDF with 12 tips to help you enjoy your life right now. Subscribe and join the journey. You will also receive weekly encouragement and hope tied up with some humor. Because life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the Discussion: Are you a January goal setter? What is working in your life?

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

May link up at Kelly Balarie (#purposeful faitht), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Maree Dee (#Grace & Truth), and Kristin Hill Taylor (#porchstories).

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

 

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

How to Spread Peace In a World of Unrest

It is easy to look around and feel the lack of peace.

Especially at this time of year when we are wishing others love, joy, and peace.

Lack of peace is everywhere. Conflicts, financial concerns, health problems, divorce, personal worries, death, political fighting, severe weather, and crime.

So how can we have peace when we are living in an unpeaceful world?

 

We can spread peace, one act at a time, to those around us.We can spread peace, one act at a time, to those around us.

Look in the right places.

 

First, we need to be looking in the right places.

The true peace we are searching for in our lives and in this world does not come from man. We cannot pass another law, elect another president, start a new organization, or post a viral tweet that will result in peace.

True peace comes from above. From the Prince of Peace.

Sure, we get glimpses of it, sneak peaks, and feel it deep in our souls sometimes, but it is not the everlasting peace that will one day be here. Never to leave again. Permeating all the world.

Jesus said he was going to give us peace. Not world peace, but his peace inside us.

We can spread peace, one act at a time, to those around us.We can spread peace, one act at a time, to those around us. 
Lack of peace is nothing new.

 

History is full of unrest. On a big scale and on a little scale.

When sin entered the world, back in the Garden of Eden, peace came to an abrupt halt. Living in an unpeaceful world became the norm.

We may be wishing for the good old days, but the good old days also had unrest. Jesus knows all about this. He lived in a time of history where there were wars, slavery, uprisings, corrupt rulers, political and religious infighting, and battles between animals and people took place in the colosseum.

Religious leaders routinely tried to trap him with their questions. They would ultimately plot to kill him. Death and disease were a constant.

People were looking for Jesus to bring lasting peace. To bring about new leadership and be their ruler.

But this wasn’t the plan. Jesus brought peace one act at a time. One kind word at a time. One healing at a time. One person at a time.

And this is what we can do.

We can’t spread peace around the world. But we can spread peace to those around us. To our little neighborhood, one peaceful act at a time.

We can hold our tongue. Acknowledge and encourage others. Volunteer. Smile and be present. Say no to something to pause the busyness. Be courteous, respectful, and listen. Love unconditionally. Practice kindness to our self and others. Deepen the relationship with our Savior.  Be still and receive peace from him and others.

One act at a time, we can choose to spread the peace of Christ.

We can spread peace, one act at a time, to those around us.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the discussion: What are some ways you spread peace?

We can spread peace, one act at a time, to those around us.May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Maree Dee (#Grace & Truth).

We can spread peace, one act at a time, to those around us.We can't spread peace around the world. But we can spread peace to those around us. To our little neighborhood, one peaceful act at a time.

Living the Dream Between Sticky Messes and Sacred Ground

Do you sometimes look around and wish for more?

Do you sometimes think, is this all there is?

Or wonder to yourself, so this is how it is going to be?

Does life sometimes seem more like a chore than joy?

I think we can answer yes to some of these questions, depending on the day and season we are currently mired in.

We sometimes forget that our sticky mess we are questioning, is really sacred ground.

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.Sticky messes and sacred ground?

 

Maybe you can relate to sticky messes.

Perhaps there are sticky spots all over your kitchen floor. Places where papers would naturally stay put without tape. Maybe you lost your left shoe this morning and it’s still where the sticky ooze first grabbed it.

But sacred ground?

Nothing sacred about this sticky ground, you think.

Let me ask you a question.

Are you in the middle of an answered prayer?

I don’t mean this morning’s prayer, I mean a prayer or desire from year’s ago.

Maybe from before you were a teen. Maybe after.

Did you once long to be a wife?

Did you once pray for a job?

Did you once yearn to be a mom?

Did you once dream about renting your own apartment? Moving out on your own?

Did you desire to have your first house?

Did you used to dream about being an adult who could do whatever they wanted and stay up as late as they wanted?

That’s my point.

Many of us are living smack dab in the middle of our answered prayers and dreams. Sacred ground is below us.

We longed for this, and now we are here. Only it seems much different than what we imagined. Harder than we thought it would be. And there are more responsibilities than we ever imagined.

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.Don’t worry, we have lots of company.

 

The children of Israel prayed for years to be free from the Egyptians. To be free from slavery. To have a different and better life for themselves and their children.

That day finally came. They walked out of Egypt with their heads high. They were free. Off to a new life. Their prayers were answered.

We don’t get very far into their story before their attitude changes. They begin whining about walking so far. They complained about the lack of water. Were dissatisfied with Moses. Wished they were back in Egypt eating leaks

When they imagined being free of Egypt, they never imagined they would be wandering for years in a sand pit and sleeping in a tent.

We can’t fault them for not reading the fine print. Because there was no fine print.

Their prayers were answered, sure not in the way they imagined they would be, and they grew unhappy.

Does this feel familiar?

We pray for employment. Imagining a job so wonderful there is no bad news to write home about. Then we get a job, only it doesn’t match the image we had pasted on our frontal cortex.

We pray for children. Maybe spend years trying to get pregnant. Never thinking of all the dippers and mid-night feedings and the worry and guilt that goes into raising a child.

We pray for a house. Then the roof leaks. The neighbors are unfriendly. The furnace quits one cold night.

We pray for a mate. Only to find marriage is not as easy as it looks. And he is not as perfect as we thought.

We pray for friends. A church. Healing. And the answer looks different than our request. 

Reality overtakes our preconceived fantasy. It makes us question the here and now.

We forget our prayers were answered, because we now feel stuck in a mess, mired in problems, hip deep in sand and sticky places. 

The reality may be that we are smack dab in the middle of answered prayers. Standing on sacred ground. But we have forgotten this, because it sure doesn’t feel like we are living our dreams.

Life gets hard. We feel unhappy and tired. Dissatisfied. We whine and complain. Feel sorry for our self.  Because that is what we as humans do.

I used to think that if I was a child of Israel wandering in the desert tired and parched, I wouldn’t have whined. Baloney! I would have joined right in with them. Because of one simple reason. We humans are whiners. We think back to our shiny and perfect prayer or dream and then we look around at our current reality and we feel cheated.

Wait a second, we think. I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t ask for imperfection.

Only we forget that we live in imperfection. There is no Garden of Edan. And reality never jives with the dream in our headspace.

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.How to reconcile our sticky messes with sacred ground and enjoy our answered prayers.

 

Life is always full of sticky messes next to sacred ground because we are human. Remembering that the two go hand in hand, can be helpful. Here are also some other tips that may help.

Hint: Trying to implement all of these tips leads to overwhelm. Choose one or two that will most help you right now. Or come up with your own.

1. Remind yourself that life is hard. Even with a husband. 2 children. A dream job. A house. A picket fence. And 1 dog. Sure, some parts are easier, and some parts are harder. But life ain’t never as easy as we want it to be or as we imagine it will be. There is a disconnect between our dream and reality. Understand this.

2. Life unfolds in seasons. It is always changing. We may get tired of being grabbed by little hands and answering their 1,452 questions a day, but one day they will be grown. What irritates us today, may one day be missed. Or what irritates us today, may naturally cease.

3. Things could always be worse. Sometimes I play this game with myself. I imagine things worse. Much worse than they currently are. Which makes me thankful that things are not worse. It helps me count my blessings and thank God for what I do have.

4. Find ways to enjoy life right now. Don’t delay fun. Have fun right where you are. It makes life easier and improves our attitude.

Maybe even go for crazy fun. Dance and sing in the kitchen. And when someone steps on the sticky goo left over from junior dumping a jar of honey on the floor, they get to choose the next song.

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.5. Toss perfection and almost perfect out the nearest door. It just trips you up and makes you desire what will never be. It’s also a kill joy.

6. Spot the positive. The negative is easier to spot, but it yields less rewards. Spotting the positive will lead to feeling better about where you are right now in your sticky mess and help you count your blessings.

7. See the eternal perspective. You are right where God has placed you. This life is never all about us. Or about a clean home or finding the most enjoyable job. Or about kids or pets that don’t embarrass us. It is about loving others, our self, and God.

8. Remember the prayers that God has already answered in your life. God recounted to the children of Israel over and over again the story of bringing them out of Egypt. Why? Maybe to remind them that he answered their prayers. That he was on their side and had taken care of them. And that they were living their answered prayers.

9. Find the humor in your life. You may have to wait awhile for showing up to your child’s doctor appointment on the wrong day to be funny. But one day, it just might be. Humor helps change our perspective and cheers us up.

10. Create a tribe of support. Friends you can talk to. Encourage one another. 2 are better than one.

You got this.

Breathe.

Another breath.

Now go enjoy your one and only life.

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the discussion: What answered prayer are you living? And what helps you remember to enjoy your answered prayers?

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems.10 suggestions to enjoy our current life. Because sometimes we forget our prayers were answered, because now we feel stuck in a mess and mired in problems. Learning to live in the present and accepting your life.