Hi again Fam!
So last week I shared briefly on how you can begin to prepare for your 2018 by reflecting on your 2017. Today we take it a step further and we look ahead. The questions you reflected on last week were aimed at giving you a clearer picture of your present standing. It’s important to regularly take stock of your reality so you can take the right steps in your life.
I really don’t believe that you are able to plan for your tomorrow or next month or next year if you don’t have an idea of who you would like to be in the long-run. This exercise may take a bit of time for you to complete but it will be worth it. You need God to reveal His overall purposes for your life then you can work backwards to your immediate future with His help.
Go ahead and grab your journal or fresh piece of paper, and invite the Holy Spirit to do this exercise with you once again. Prayer is the key to preparing for your future, and unless you pray first please don’t even bother continuing with this exercise. It will not prove fruitful.
You can expect to go through the following steps in this post:
- Searching out your life’s why – practical steps you can take to seek out God’s purpose for your life.
- Preparing for your next 5 years – focusing on spheres of your life that you desire to grow in within the next 3-5 years.
- Preparing for 2018 – focusing on these same spheres for next year.
- Searching Out Your Life’s Why
This year, I read a book by Simon Sinek called “Start With Why” and it shifted my perspective on why I do the things I do. He emphasizes the need for a great organization or leader to be clear about why they offer a product or service. I believe this counts generally in how we live. What we do cannot be haphazard if we expect to succeed. I believe this is God’s principle for our lives too.
Understanding your life’s purpose (or “Why”) is something every person should seek to determine and to live out until Christ returns. God created us for a reason and unless we walk in it, we generally will feel unfulfilled in what we do no matter how great it may be. I wrote about how to determine your purpose here, and there are so many other powerful writings or teachings on this topic out there.
a) Ask God to reveal His purpose for your life. Don’t expect this to be revealed in one sitting but be expectant nonetheless and God will speak to you about it. It may take days or months or even a year – it’s a journey, not a destination. As a start, you can write out things/causes that you are passionate about or what you enjoy doing without being asked to do it. Ask those closest to you about this as well because they may pick up on things you haven’t.
It could be that you enjoy singing. Or you can’t get enough of spending time with underprivileged children and encouraging/empowering them. Maybe you enjoy calculating figures and analysing how to solve problems. You may just absolutely enjoy doing admin and making sure the records in your company or church are organized. It can be the simplest of things or a combination.
b) In your new journal or fresh piece of paper, begin to jot down those things that make you feel alive or that you enjoy doing most. As you write these out and explore them over time, it will become clearer as to why you were placed on earth. And remember – these can evolve with time. The key is to consistently listen to God’s guidance and act on what He shows you. Also look out for a pattern or theme.
c) Once you’ve got a better idea of your purpose (things that make you feel like I’m b above), you can also write out the areas in your life currently where you can live it out – living out your purpose doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your job or moving cities. God could encourage you to empower the less priviledged at your company by holding night or weekend classes to teach them accounting. Or He could ask you to improve the organization of your church by being the secretary/clerk. And these could end up in you leaving formal employment in a few years. The point is to move as God leads.
Be purposeful about understanding why you’re on this earth.
- Preparing For Your Next 5 Year
Once you have determined, or as you are determining your life’s “Why”, think about where it means you can be in about 5 years’ time. Again, let God guide you. All our plans are subject to Him and His approval.
I have found that it helps to have key issues that you would like to work on in the different spheres of your life:
a) Make use of the landscape orientation of your paper/page, then divide it into 6-8 columns (or even less). Head each column with an area of your life that is important to you. It could be Health; Spiritual/Relationship With God; Romantic Relationship/Partner; Career; Finances; Social; Family/Friends; Emotional Well-being; Ministry/Service etc.
b) Under each column, write out what a 10 would look like in this area of your life – not where you currently are. So let your imagination run wild and think as though there was nothing to hold you back, and as though you are already successfully operating in that sphere of your life. How will you feel? What will you be doing more of in this area? What will you be doing less of?
Try not to limit yourself with this section. As you reflect on God’s principles for the different areas of your life, paint a picture of what that would look like in your personal life. For instance, God has told us that He desires for us to be in good health; to prosper in our souls (be joyful); to be fruitful and multiply; and to be free from any diseases, amongst other things (3 John 1:2; Proverbs 17:22; Deuteronomy 7:12-15).
In your life personally, you may recognize that this would look like you feeling more energized and alert; possessing a positive outlook on life and sleeping well throughout the night; or enjoying a balanced diet. It could possibly mean that you are aware of your vitals as you make regular visits to your GP and gynaecologist, or that you have given birth to two healthy children. Focus on who you want to be, rather than what you want to do.
Allow God to paint a masterpiece for your life in the next few years, and regularly review this plan with Him.
- Preparing for 2018
Now that you have a better idea of who you believe God has called you to be (your “Why”) and the medium-term plan to get there, you can focus on the coming year. You can look at your current reality (last week’s exercise) to help you to figure out what you can do to get to the final destination.
a) Go ahead and make the 6-8 columns for those same areas you highlighted in section 2 above. These will specifically be for 2018. As you reflect on where you’ve already said you see yourself in 3-5 years’ time, think of realistic, specific and practical ways to help you move closer to that picture in 2018.
Again, let’s look at the area of Health: We highlighted above that you would like to feel more energized and alert. Thus, you may decide that exercising will help with this. Consider your life’s responsibilities and schedule as it stands (i.e. work/school; children; marriage; singleness etc), and think of what you could do to get in some good exercise. You could decide to do an hour of Zumba once a week and 30-45 minutes of gym three times a week. Or you could decide to go walking around your neighbourhood for 30 minutes each morning before or after work.
b) Be specific and realistic about these plans. The last thing you want to do is to have 10 things you aim to do in one sphere of your life because it will leave you feeling overwhelmed, and feeling like you are unable to even get started. Seek to also build on what you already enjoy. For example, if you enjoy dancing, then Zumba or Salsa will be great exercise options for you. At the same time, also be prepared to do some things you don’t necessarily like because they will lead you to ultimately fulfil your “Why”.
c) I would even encourage you to select a single action that you will focus on or grow in, in each sphere of your life for 2018. As you work on that one thing, other healthy habits/actions will become attractive to you and you’ll begin to make changes subconsciously and more readily. An overload of “goals” or actions can actually deter you from fulfilling them.
d) Once you have determined the major step/s to take in each sphere of your life, you can then implement it in your life on a monthly/weekly/daily basis to help keep you focused and motivated.
Be specific and realistic about where you see yourself in 2018, and review your plans regularly (e.g. monthly).
I think what is most important is to pray for this New Year in your life, and prepare yourself mentally and spiritually to have God adjust some things should He please. Being open to the moving of the Holy Spirit while constantly spending time in God’s word will help to make you feel more at peace with your year. It’s a great thing to write out all of the above plans with God at your side, but always remember to allow Him to be God. Step out and act on them.
I hope these exercises have helped to equip you for 2018. Please do share any questions or suggestions you may have around how we can prepare for the New Year. Feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for coaching sessions in 2018. I’m offering them at next to nothing at present so hurry up before spaces fill up!
We as The black African woman team wish you all an amazing festive season and New Year! May God Himself exceed your expectations in this new chapter of your life.
It’s time for some downtime at ‘black African woman’ sis. Do make sure to keep an eye out for us here and follow us on FB, Insta or Twitter to continue to receive inspiration and encouragement. Until next year, take care sis!