It's that time of year where we set a million goals, pick a word for the new year and are full of intention, dedication, and determination.
Goals are great. In fact, I think setting goals to achieve your dreams/step into your calling is responsible. I believe setting small goals help us achieve our big goals. But in a world full of hurry and next steps faced with a year where we had to pause, reflect, change, and wait, I challenge you to think about what your expectations and hopes are for 2021.
What did you dream of, pursue, or goals did you set in 2020? What came to fruition and what died down by the end of January? What did you find out truly mattered and what was not worth your time?
If you don't know me, I'm a major Type A, have everything planned down to the minute type person. I love a sense of adventure and randomness, but I also have peace when I know that everything I want to do is planned out so I don't miss anything.
I had high hopes for 2020: complete a few marathons making my total 11+, vacation somewhere new, spend countless hours with friends and family, visit new baseball stadiums, start a successful business, make big adult decisions (ya know, buying a house, building a new fence, all the stuff) etc.
Some of this stuff worked out, but most of it didn't. And when things began to go downhill, I worked tirelessly to make up for it. I often won't rest until the job is done and let my stress of to do's carry over into how I interact with people. If plan A didn't work out, I'd go to plan B, C or D. I had the constant pursuit of getting things done and doing so quickly.
We know by now that God had different plans for 2020 than we all did and I bet to say 2021 will be the same. Why? Because we so often plan ahead for what we want and don't include prayer and conversations with Him when we do. God often doesn't tell us the entire plan or path, but rather shows us the next step.
I think if I learned anything this year it's a combination of letting go, take the jump, and slow down. Not everything has to be planned out to the exact minute. Sometimes it's worth spending the money or time to take a new adventure. Let go of things that don't go your way or don't go as planned.
My challenge for you as you enter 2021 is this: Consider what you need to let go of, where you need to slow down, and ask what is really worth pursuing this year. Maybe that job or side hustle is your next step, or maybe it's putting that dream on hold to spend time with your kids. Maybe it's getting back in the church or resuming date nights with your spouse.
Here's the thing: God is the one who restores. He's the one who completes. He's the one who allows things to go or stop. We can't put hope in ourselves or achievements of goals set January 1. We won't feel fulfilled when we get there; we'll just want more. When those goals or dreams are missed - we'll be left feeling empty, like we didn't do enough. The tireless pursuit of goals or next steps creates a falsehood that we need to do our saving, shaping, or changing. Our identity is not the success of our achievements or failures to reach goals. The distraction of what we continue to strive for keeps us from the Truth of Who has already done the work so we can walk freely.
Let Him work. Set goals, but be willing to go where He leads. Alter or shift when necessary. Tap into your passions or calling and walk with Him as you figure out the next step. Don't watch where He leads others; focus where He is leading you.
I read this awesome Instagram post by Caroline Saunders a few days ago that read, "before you begin, rest in what's finished. Sometimes we decide to run after goals (or avoid them completely) to avoid sin and shame or to secure righteousness or identity. But our goal-setting or goal-avoiding does not offer what we crave. Instead, we get to rest in what has already been secured and then operate from the overflow of that. Your sin and shame were handled on the cross; your righteousness and identity were secured on the cross. When we are tempted to manufacture salvation for ourselves, we can remember what was finished on the cross and entrust ourselves to our Savior."