Welcome to March my friend! Spring is almost here…can you feel it? With it comes a sense of renewal for me; an inner energy to start anew. We are almost a full quarter into 2017. Can you believe it? I swear, the older I get the more quickly time seems to pass.
How has this year been for you so far? Has it been purposeful and productive, or are you sitting there thinking “It’s March already and I am no closer to making the changes I wanted to make than I was in January.”
No matter where you fall on the spectrum of progress, taking a moment to stop, reflect and re-assess is key to moving forward in a way that will give you the best opportunity to look back on 2017 with satisfaction rather than regret.
In the month of March I am doing a 4-part series on Strategic Goal Statements. What are those? Well, they are statements created by you that accurately reflect the progress you want to make towards a change in your life. Each week this month I will be sharing a specific step to help you. Then, on April 5, I will be hosting a free workshop in St. Louis (y'all I am working on doing one in Charleston SC in April as well. Let me know if you're interested??) where we will discuss these elements and put them into a plan of action that I hope will carry you though the rest of the year. (Since this is a free workshop, seating is limited. I will send out the details to my subscribers first, so if this email was forwarded to you, sign up today!)
Our First Step: Self-Assessment
Don’t groan. Self-Assessment is a valuable source of information; without it we will remain stuck in old patterns of behavior. Seriously. Think of it like this. Let’s say when you get into your car in the morning it sputters, coughs, tries to start, but then simply shuts off. You try again, and the same thing. What do you do? You don't just leave it in the driveway and try every day to start it again do you? No, you examine it to see if you can determine why it won’t start, then take it to a mechanic to have them fix it. If you are stuck in patterns of behavior that are not producing the results you want, you need to examine why. That’s what self-assessment in terms of developing strategic goal statements focuses on.
Here’s the process I use to determine why I am not going where I want to:
Pray. Working in our own understanding of the ways things “should be” or how we want them to be is what causes us to get stuck. Relying on our own knowledge to get us out is what keeps us running around in circles trying to get unstuck, wasting time and increasing our frustration. In our broken-down car scenario, this is where you would go to a mechanic to have them diagnose the issues instead of trying to determine what is wrong on your own. Sit with God and ask Him to reveal how He sees you and the place you are in. He is not a judgmental, condescending God (See John 3:17) and will not condemn you. He wants to see you walking in freedom and fulfilling the plans He has for your life (See Jeremiah 29:11). Is that what you want too?
Reflect. When we reflect on what has been happening, looking for where we got tripped up, where we tended to get off track, even where we fell back into our old coping patterns, we learn the why. It’s the same as with our broken-down car. When we reflect on what happened the last time we drove it we can better understand (maybe) why it won’t work today. Were you aware of some weird sounds, check-engine lights, or irregularities the last time you drove it? In our own lives, we have signals indicating we are close to getting off track, falling into old habits again, or getting stuck. What has your recent past been telling you?
Observe. This skill is, I believe, the most underutilized because it requires is to pay attention in the present. What is currently happening in your life? Do you know? I have been sharing all year the tool I use to record a week in my life so I get a clear picture of exactly what I am doing with my time. (If you need one, you can find them here: ST LINK). In the broken-down car scenario, this is the diagnostic test the mechanic would run your car through to determine which processes aren’t operating efficiently for the car. When we pay attention to our daily life enough to keep track of what we are doing we gain insight into the why; to get a diagnosis if you will as to why we are not making progress towards our goals. Here are a few additional questions to consider here:
Have you identified the priorities of your life? (I wrote on priorities in every post in February. You can find them in the archives to the right)
Is your time being spent according to your priorities or something else?
What is keeping you from investing time in your priorities the way you want to?
Is there a fear?
Is there bitterness or unforgiveness and resentment?
Is there too much on your plate?
Take the time this week to run your life through this self-assessment strategy. It’s worth it. Living a stuck life, one in which we are limited because of thought patterns, beliefs and habits that don’t line up with Scripture and God’s will for our lives, stifles the love, joy, and peace a life with Jesus guarantees. (See John 10:10) You are worth that.
We will build on this strategy next week when we focus on Step 2 of Strategic Goal Statements: Vision
Join the Conversation: What is something you hope to accomplish this year?