As most everyone does at this time of year, I’ve been pondering the New Year stuff. What change do I want to see in my life? How can I determine which goals are most important and deserve my energy and attention? How can I even set goals when I don’t know what each day may bring? How do I actually achieve those goals if I manage to set them in the first place?
As a homeschooling mother of eight children, three of whom have graduated from high school and are currently in college, I can look back and see that my now-young adults achieved their goals step by step by having good habits that were established at a young age, the habits of working to the best of their ability one day at a time.
Did they have goals? Yes, where their studies were concerned especially. Short-term goals were used as guides to mark progress. However, the goals were accomplished day by day, a little at a time. Goals are good things in the educational realm.
Long-term goals can be helpful as well: graduate from high school. A student doesn’t wake up one morning and think, “Today I am going to graduate from high school.” This long-term goal is reachable when taken one day at a time; there will be just one day in the young adult’s life when he wakes up and thinks, “Today I am going to graduate from high school.” A whole lot of effort went into achieving that goal, right? Most certainly!
Time for the next goal. And so goes life.
Isn’t life more than traveling from goal to goal? One who lives only to meet goals may miss out on the joy of the journey. If you are a workaholic, you know this only too well. The desire to achieve for the sake of achieving wears thin after a while, and burnout sets in. I still find myself striving to reach goals and missing out on JOY. Do you do that as well?
Are goals a bad thing to have then, I ask myself? Ummmm….yes and no. It is hard to be single-minded about reaching goals when one has young children unless the target goal is simply survival until daddy gets home from work. Or the goal of getting children bathed and into pajamas and to bed before utter exhaustion hits. Gosh, I used to not be able to go to sleep unless everything (and I mean everything) was in its place, including laundry folded/ironed/put away. How times and goals change! I remember when I had four babies, ages five and down, and I would go to bed with a table full of dirty dishes because there was nary a drop of energy left to do the dishes, (and my husband worked nights).
Children sure change you, don’t they? The dreams you had as a bold, energetic young adult take a turn when your first child is born. Suddenly, the joy of a newborn baby takes over, and all else takes a back seat. Goals that I may have had before having children changed drastically as the stork dropped off bundles of babies on my doorstep, year after year. (Sometimes even skipping a year.)
It was painful at times, exhausting for sure, yet as I look back now, I easily forget the hard stuff and remember the good stuff: cuddling a sleeping baby, reading book after book after book to little ones sprawled on the floor in front of a roaring fire, planting and tending a garden together in the warm summer evenings, catching lightning bugs together, going for walks as a family down the country lanes past stinky dairy farms.
Life seemed simpler back then; memory feigns the idyllic.
Time changes everything. Today I am blessed to have all of my offspring gathered here in my home. I realize much more NOW what a blessing it is to be together as a family. Ten years ago, I could not have imagined the joy one could feel just by sitting around the supper table all together, enjoying a meal, because this was a daily occurrence. I wish now that I had not taken those times for granted. I am saddened just by the thought of three of my kids going back to their respective worlds in a matter of days. Oh, to learn to live in the moment instead of looking down the road. I have spent many years looking down the road at the next destination instead of dancing in the puddles of joy that are directly beneath my feet TODAY.
Back to goals, my personal goals for 2011. My first goal is to remember that it is no longer 2010 when I write a check or write an entry in my journal.
Last year I hoped to reach my “goal weight” and I did! For some reason, I didn’t maintain that goal weight past October. Why not? Because I only was exercising to achieve my goal. Once I achieved it, my motivation to maintain never really kicked in. Oddly enough, I am not setting a weight goal this year. (You may not care to know this fact, but I jot it down here anyway.)
Since I met my goal last year but then FAILED to maintain, how then can I get motivated this year to once again reach that goal? I think I have discovered the secret.
The secret, I’ve learned, is not to look down the road at a whole year stretched out into somewhere in the future, but I will look at today as a new day. Just for today, I am going to DO the change I would like to see in my life.
Here is my little checklist for myself:
1. Do I want to feel better? Exercise.
2. Do I want to have more energy? Exercise.
3. Do I want to be more productive? Exercise.
4. Do I want to be inspired to eat right? Exercise.
5. Do I want to be motivated? Exercise.
Notice there is nothing in there regarding weight. We’re talking benefits that I can have TODAY, not down the road. I know that exercise will yield each of these benefits, so I am much more likely to answer YES to these questions each morning and look for a time to exercise during the day.
That takes care of body and mind. What about the spiritual?
1. Want heart change?
2. Want peace?
3. Want joy?
4. Want to love more?
5. Want clarity of thought and vision?
6. Want to be more productive?
7. Want to really have faith?
The answer (for myself) to all of the above questions is to daily read the Word, meditate on it, journal about it, pray about it, pray for others, (Job 42:10), and finally, listen and do. If I want to meet each new day of 2011 and fully experience it, all I need is to read, pray, and listen. Enormous changes will come from those three items! The hard part is not jumping out of bed and doing my own thing to meet the day’s challenges in my own strength.
It’s pretty simple: spend time at the beginning of the day getting with God, then do what I am led to do that day in His strength. View exercise as a blessing, not a negative, and enjoy the benefits of it all year long.
Woo hoo!! Happy New Day, y’all!