#41: On New Year’s Resolutions

#41: On New Year’s Resolutions

I’ll admit it: every January I get caught up in the resolution extravaganza. I love the romance of saying “goodbye” to the old and “hello” to the new. I love having some time to dream.

I start the process by getting out and rereading all my favorite, inspiring, goal-setting books: Coming Up for Air by Margaret Becker, Women Who Do Too Much by Patricia Sprinkle, and A Place Called Simplicity by Claire Cloninger.

I find it easy to list my goals for the year. They are pretty much the usual: start eating healthy again, start working out again, plan some fun vacations and list some projects I want to accomplish. This particular year, I also added the goal of reading through my Bible in a year. These are goals I’ve usually been thinking about for awhile and simply need to adjust my schedule and make some better choices in order to accomplish them. These are the easy goals to set.

But then I hit a wall. It happens when I try to come up with a plan for the rest of my life. So many of the goal books ask me to set 10-year, 20-year and 30-year goals and that’s when I go blank.

When I was younger, it was easy to have long term goals. I had my life pretty well planned when I was 10. I wanted to be an artist and I wanted to be a wife and mother. It never occurred to me that life may not turn out exactly as planned. I was unprepared for the surprise. Perhaps if I had known that life often doesn’t turn out as planned, I may have been more prepared to be flexible. But flexible I did learn to become.

While I hadn’t really planned on a career, circumstances demanded that I find one. Through a series of adventures, I landed on teaching, and it is, for the most part, I career I love. And, as long as it remains challenging and meaningful, it is also a career that I’m pretty much planning on sticking with until I retire. But then the problem is: there is not much to plan, career-wise, for the next 10, 20, 30 years. I have no desire to go into administration, and I expect that I will enjoy teaching until I retire. But I wonder, “is this it?” Which brings me to the next question, “is that OK?” Maybe it is or maybe there is something else I should be planning for, but what?

And then, as you know, I’m single, which isn’t how I planned things, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I do love my freedom and independence. I would like to get married one day, but how does one really set that as a goal? Yes, there are a few things I could do to increase my chances of meeting someone, but I feel like I don’t really have time for that and I don’t want to spend my life looking for a husband, missing my actual life in the meantime. And if I’m honest, I must admit that deep down, I’m not sure I really want to give up my independence. God may surprise me one day with a husband, but in the meantime, I remain stuck as to how to plan that area of my life for the next 10, 20, 30 years.

And so, you can see why I draw a blank when it comes to long-term planning. On one hand, I have the knowledge that even with goals, there is no guarantee that life is going to turn out the way I planned, and on the other hand, I’m not even sure most of the time what to even plan for. I’ve also pretty much met the big goals already, so what is next?

Since I don’t have the answers, I go back to focusing on two types of goals. First, I focus on short term goals because I’ve realized that they affect the long term. I exercise and eat healthy now because I want to be as healthy as I can possibly be in the future. I make a point to spend time with the people I love now because I hope to have them around in the future. I invest in the lives of children, both at work and at church, because they are the future and it’s what I believe God has called me to do. I pursue my creative passions because they bring me joy now and who knows where they may lead me in the future.

The other type of goals I have learned to focus on are the goals that focus on the person I want to be. I want to work on being kind, generous, loving, and unselfish. I want to be conformed to the image of Christ. I want to learn to trust God and to not live in fear. I want to find myself at the end of this year closer to this goal.

So this is where I land this January. I know what I want to focus on right now and I remain flexible to what God may have for me in the future. While my life today is quite different from what I thought it would look like 30 years ago, it has been filled with some wonderful surprises. I wonder what surprises God has planned for my future.

Amy- Bradley Hand

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