New Years Resolution
Tumaini Tidbits #7
Have you made your New Year’s Resolution yet? I must confess that I usually don’t do that anymore because I don’t want to set myself up to be disappointed. The trouble with New Year’s Resolutions is that a year is a very long time, although not as long as it used to be, and it’s much better to set short-term goals that are more realistic and attainable. I can remember when our children were growing up, and it seemed like the objectives we set up to cooperate as a family were breaking down, we would make charts for different chores to be done or rules to be followed and give a star each day if they were met. There were rewards and consequences also included. Now, if we as parents were clear and consistent with the objectives and the consequences, and if we would not react but be able to calmly follow the plan, usually after 2-3 months we didn’t need the chart anymore. Then when new challenges arose, we’d have to get out the magic markers and make a new chart. A chart for a year would be unwieldy and like overkill.
There might be some people who do not need to set goals. Maybe you are one of them whose life is not too complicated or you and others around you have an understanding of what needs to be done, and you don’t need to talk about it. But for most of us, we need to reflect , evaluate, and make goals to keep our paths straight before the Lord and to keep us responsible and well-balanced. Assuming that most of us have to set goals to get things done (often the things we don’t like to do), what is the best way to do this, and not just on New Years but throughout the year?
To be practical, goals have to be measureable. Just to say, “My goal is to be nice to people from now on,” is difficult to measure. If that is your goal, you have to think of specific ways you will be nice. Also, it’s helpful to choose a goal that you have some control over. It doesn’t work to make goals for other people, like your spouse, for example. If you do make goals for your marriage, it’s best to make them together; even the charts for the children work better if the kids have some input and take some ownership of the plan. It’s also good to have a timeline instead of leaving the goal open-ended. Another important ingredient in setting goals is accountability. We have to build that into our personal goals because we all have things we don’t like to do. What if you told yourself that you can’t start reading that compeling book or engaging magazine until you fix the water leak, or you can’t start sewing that quilt until the kitchen is clean? You would probably get it done.
The Bible talks about making plans and setting goals. In Jeremiah 29:19 we have God’s promise, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future….if you seek me with all your heart.” But then we read in Proverbs 19:21 that “many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Someone has said, “Do you know how to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.” There is a similar Japanese proverb that says, “When you make plans, the devils laugh.” I guess that’s the tension of Faith. We make plans, and God wants us to, but sometimes God shuts the door, and we need to adapt to God’s way, like Paul when he wanted to go to Asia, but God had Macedonia in mind. It doesn’t mean we have to always give up on our goals, but we do have to listen to the still small voice and be ready to change, re-evaluate, lower our expectations, or simply make new plans. Whatever way God leads, we still need to make goals, and in the sometimes confusion of change and transition, faithfulness demands that we be in close communication with God and each other.
At Tumaini we can help you in setting realistic goals or dealing with the confusion of transitions. We can be reached by calling 0728-606-911 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.