To Everything There Is A Season

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

A blog about raising a young family and keeping Christ at the center of it.

The Cyrs

The Cyrs
Photo Credit: Rachel Dewhurst

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Time for Organization: Plan Ahead

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 3:13,14

"If we don't have a target, we can never know if we have hit or missed it. Much time is wasted because we don't know where we're going. If we want to succeed, we must adopt a goal-orientation to life." -Emilie Barnes in Survival for Busy Women

I just started this book and it is a wealth of knowledge, expertise and guidance. Even for an organized person like myself! I have often been accused of "planning too much". In my earlier days I will admit that I left very little room for change in my plan and often got disappointed. Thankfully the Lord has worked graciously with me in this area. He has not shown me that it is not necessary to plan but instead has shown me how important planning is. I just had to learn to be okay when He makes adjustments or totally alters the plan. I'd say seven kids are proof of how God has intervened with "my plan"! 

If you want to be organized then you have to have a plan. If you want to accomplish things in a timely manner then you have to have a plan. Planning and goal setting are not only necessary they are also Biblical. Joseph planned for the famine. King David did not win his many battles without a plan. God did not create the earth without a plan. Without a plan or a goal to reach for there is just chaos and stumbling with a lot of effort exerted to not really accomplish much of anything. 

Lets start with planning. How do you plan for things? Minute by minute or day by day? Week to week or month to month? I fall into the month to month category, which means I have had to learn to be flexible because we all know kids live minute by minute! Being flexible was a very big struggle for me but over time it has become much easier. God has really helped me in this area and I'm thankful for that. I'm not saying that I enjoy last minute changes or unexpected delays but I now handle it with much more grace than I have in the past. Life gets busy for everyone and from what I have seen it does not matter what season of life you are in. From the busy mom to the retired lady, we all have things in our lives that keep us busy. Too busy sometimes to do the things we would really like to do. Have you ever sat back and wondered where the month went with regret of not having done this or that? I know we have. So now Ben and I make a point of writing things into the calendar as soon as we decide we want to do them. For instance, last fall we needed to get things ready for winter. Things like putting away the trampoline, taking out winter hats and jackets, cleaning up the yard, etc. So he found the next available Sat and wrote in, "winterize the house" onto the calendar. This has helped us in not being last minute about everything and alleviates a lot of frustration. Another example is having people over for dinner. How many times do you talk about having someone over but never actually do it? This was happening way too much so we now purposefully look at the calendar and see when we have a free evening or weekend and then decide on inviting someone over for dinner. Pretty much anytime we have an idea like, "I need to have a mom/Jena date and give her some undivided attention", I right away look at the calendar and find a spot where I can fit it in. We have found that we are less stressed and accomplishing much more than we were before we began doing this. And yes, we definitely make a point of keeping free weekends here and there where we have no plans or commitments.

So you can see that planning comes easily to me but goal-setting is something I am still learning. In this stage of my life I find setting long-term goals very challenging because I am having a hard time seeing into next week let alone next year or the next 10 years for that matter. Some people dream big and I admire those people, particularly those who actually achieve those goals. I'm not a dreamer. I've said it before, I'm much too practical for dreaming. My goals or I should say "our" goals may seem too simplistic for the over-achiever or dreamer but for us, for right now, they are just fine. Once you set your goals (and I do think everyone should have goals) start thinking about how you are going to achieve those goals and take the first step toward it. Don't forget to pray, pray and pray some more. When you are in God's word, when you spend time in prayer asking him for wisdom and guidance you will find that he changes your heart so that your plans line up with His plans for you. What I have found to be the challenge is the time table. God's timing always seems to differ from ours but we've learned it's also much better. Goal setting doesn't mean you are leaving God out of your life and taking control but rather working with him to accomplish His will in your life. I am no expert on goal setting, God is still teaching me in this area and I still have much to learn. I am thankful for what he has shown me so far but I am also thankful for the resources he has given me to help me in this. One is the book I linked above. I highly recommend it if you want a more organized and goal-oriented life. The other is a sermon Ben and I listened to by Pastor Mark Driscoll on planning. It is excellent and I highly recommend taking the time to listen to it. He is so practical in his preaching and gives some really good insights about setting goals and what God's word says about it.

Are you a planner and a goal-setter? Is this something that comes easily to you or something you have had to work at becoming? Do you have any resources, tips or suggestions to share with us that have helped you be successful in planning & goal-setting? Please share!

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