How You Can Prepare For Your 2018 Part 2: Planning Ahead

Planner 2018
Photo Cred: Dear Crissy

 

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.

 

prayer-is-not-just-for-times-of-trouble.jpg
Photo Cred: Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints online

 

You can expect to go through the following steps in this post:

  1. Searching out your life’s why – practical steps you can take to seek out God’s purpose for your life.
  2. Preparing for your next 5 years – focusing on spheres of your life that you desire to grow in within the next 3-5 years.
  3. Preparing for 2018 – focusing on these same spheres for next year.

 

Remember that the reason you're doing this
Photo Cred: Jojojobin Online

 

  1. 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.

 

Your purpose is hidden within
Photo Cred: Rune Lazuli

 

  1. 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.

 

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Photo Cred: Compete Everyday Online

 

  1. 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).

 

His will His way
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

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 theblackafricanwoman@gmail.com for coaching sessions in 2018. I’m offering them at next to nothing at present so hurry up before spaces fill up!

 

Happy Holidays
Photo Cred: Damask Love

 

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!

With love,

Sonia Dee

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How You Can Prepare For Your 2018 Part 1: Reflection

Reflection image
Photo Cred: Berveley Shiller Tumblr

 

Hi bAw family!

 

The New Year is LITERALLY around the corner. Can you believe it??! I feel like I blinked and 11 months swooshed by. It’s crazy how life can happen to you sometimes which is why I decided to do this post.

 

Just FYI: this blog post is a tad long but that’s because it’s more of a coaching post which will get you involved. It’s well worth it though I must say so just set aside an hour one of these days to run through it. You’ll be glad that you did.

 

In brief, this is what this post will help you to tackle:

  1. Reflecting on yourself – noting your strengths, weaknesses, gifts, talents and other qualities that you discovered in 2017. You will learn what these reveal about you.
  2. Reflecting on unhealthy habits/mind-sets – you will intentionally discover the blind spots that may be preventing you from progressing in life.
  3. Reflecting on your greatest victories – you will look at the things you achieved (big or small) to help you repeat or build on them going forward.
  4. Reflecting on God – you will reflect on how you experienced God in 2017 to equip you for the New Year.

 

Writing in your journal
Photo Cred: Ana Rosa Tumblr

 

As I’ve alluded to already, I’m going to put on my Coaching hat in this post, and hoping it helps just one person. I used to be that person that never planned for anything to be honest. I played victim all too well and at the end of a year, I would just go out and have some fun hoping that the New Year would magically be amazing. That I would finally achieve the things I hoped to in life without actually having to think about or change anything.

 

And honestly, it was because I didn’t know better. We’re hardly encouraged to be intentional about stepping into a new season of life, and into a new year, within our black communities. December is about playing – eating mounds of food; having party after party; and just really kicking back.

 

There’s nothing wrong with this at all. We certainly need to take it easy and rest our weary souls after a tough year. But when we set aside a little time to prepare for our new chapter in life, it makes the celebrations all the sweeter. Plus, we get to enter a new year with a clear mind and renewed, directed passion! For your year to be better, you need to plan for it. You wouldn’t travel to a foreign country without doing some form of preparation.

 

Road ahead
Photo Cred: Linxspiration

 

Today I’d like to share a brief exercise for you to do before all the crazy December celebrations come through. The most important step in preparing for a new year, is reflecting on what the current year was all about. You can learn much from it and also see what areas to target in the new season – whether relationships, career, habits, mind-sets, ministries, businesses, school etc.

 

Go ahead and get yourself a fresh journal or fresh writing pad, and find yourself a quiet spot and invite the Holy Spirit to help you with this exercise. He will point out the truth to some of the questions I will be asking you (John 16:13). You can choose to answer the below questions as they relate to your life generally or to specific parts like relationships/business/emotional health/physical fitness etc.

 

  1. Reflecting On Yourself

On your fresh piece of paper, make 5 columns and give them the headings: Strengths, Weaknesses, Gifts, Talents and Other. Under each column, write out the things you learnt about yourself in each of these areas – for the “Other” column you can choose an area not mentioned. Who does this reveal you to be?

You may have gone through this year or even your whole life without realizing who you really are. This little exercise is not going to give you the full picture, but it’s a great start. Understanding what you are made up of wakes you up to what you’re able to do and where you need improvement or external assistance. Seeing yourself right (not through foggy glasses), means that you’re better equipped to face the challenges and opportunities that a New Year brings.

This year, I learnt that one of my greatest gifts is the ability God has given me to see people right – to see the potential He has put inside of them that they often overlook. And to encourage them to pursue that relentlessly. One of my weaknesses is lack of discipline and follow-through. If I do not consciously work on tasks, I do not finish what I started. What about you?

 

Fall in love with taking care
Photo Cred: Soul Wellness

 

  1. Reflecting On Unhealthy Habits/Mind-sets

What unhealthy habits or mind-sets did you consistently engage in this year and what led to them? On the left-hand side of a new page/paper, list each habit or mind-set and next to each, jot down the things or people that led to them.

It could be habits or attitudes like eating too much junk; believing you have nothing of value to add to anyone; not getting enough rest etc. Unhealthy habits/mind-sets can block your progress in life. Doing this exercise will help you become aware of what to avoid or adjust in the New Year. You will keep repeating what you don’t acknowledge.

This year, one of the worst habits I engaged in was to blame other people for my unhappiness. Whether or not their behaviour was wrong, I was not taking responsibility over my own feelings and well-being. It meant that I was constantly open to other people’s manipulations because I was waiting for them to fix things or to do right. Next year, I need to seek to recognize unhealthy conduct from people and choose to set appropriate boundaries or speak up without sulking endlessly or expecting someone else to change.

 

We repeat what we don't repair
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

  1. Reflecting On Your Greatest Victories

On the left-hand side of a new page, list your greatest victories in 2017. Maybe you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro or you finally got your Driver’s License. Maybe you broke off an unhealthy relationship, or you started to serve in your local church. It doesn’t matter how small or big the milestone, it’s just one that fills you up with pride when you think of it.

Next to each victory item, jot down what you believe led to that specific victory – external sources; your skill/effort; opportunities that you grabbed; an attitude you adopted; people around you etc. Reflecting on your victories will reinforce to your mind that you can achieve your goals, and it will help you see how you can repeat or build on these for 2018.

One of my greatest victories for 2018 was stepping out of my comfort zone and hosting events for women I had never met but that God planted a passion in my heart for. This victory was a result of the help of amazing friends, family and strangers who gave of their time, money and skills to make them a blessing. Going forward, I am encouraged that what God has called me to do, He will fulfil and provide for.

 

Success is a series of small wins
Photo Cred: Instead Of Ashes

 

  1. Reflecting On God

This is probably the most important reflection theme. What did you learn about God this year through the good and terrible circumstances you faced? Do not limit yourself with this step. Let your pen free-flow on your page as the Holy Spirit reveals the truths you experienced about God and His character in 2017.

The most important thing we can do in our life is to see God right. He reveals His character through our experiences in life whether good or bad. This is why Romans 8:28 says that “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose”. God does something amazing with every experience we go through, if we would just allow Him to show us. Seeing God right through your past experiences, equips you for the new ones you will walk through.

One of the things I learnt about God in 2017 is that He is good even when I don’t feel it or see it (Psalm 145:9; 1 Chronicles 16:34; Nahum 1:7). His intrinsic nature is to allow things to shape up in a way that ultimately benefits me. I have learnt to wait on God rather than throw tantrums when things appear to be going pear-shaped because He always reveals His goodness to me. Going forward, this gives me such confidence in Him as my Father and Sovereign Lord over my life.

 

The coolest thing about God
Photo Cred: YouTube

 

Once you are done with your reflections, you will find that you see yourself, life, people and God through different eyes. You are no longer seeing through eyes that have been tainted by society or lies or fears and doubts. You are not seeing through your own desires or wishes. But, through the universal and omnipresent perspective of God who sees where you’ve come from, where you are and where He is taking you.

 

I hope you found this exercise useful. If you have any questions or would just like to share your experience of it, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email at theblackafricanwoman@gmail.com. You can also get a hold of me for personal coaching sessions if you feel stuck in a rut in your life or you desire healing and to see yourself the way God sees you. My desire is to help you live a more fulfilled and wholesome life as God intended.

 

Look out for the final instalment of posts for this year which will help you plan forward for the New Year. Thanks for reading as always!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

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