Bring on a New Year and new health! I am so excited to begin 2014. My second surgery was last week and all went well. My body is readjusting to being “put back together” which could take up to four months. But my energy level is good—I am exercising, eating well, and getting back to work. I look at today’s date and realize that we are only two weeks into our first month of the new year. By now people are either doing really well with their goals and resolutions or fading fast. I gave a message to my youth group teens on the first Sunday of January and we looked at “purposeful living”. I posed the questions--Why are we here? What is our purpose? What are we doing with this one life we have been given? Now how many thirteen year olds let alone 40 year olds really think about these things? But I believe it is important to be able to answer these questions because it grounds us and helps us look at our foundation—the core of our beliefs and values.
I think it is really important to do self assessments and reflections throughout life. For as long as I can remember I have been a “journaler”—I write out my thoughts, intentions and dreams. Each new year I set goals for myself. Greg and I were married on New Year’s Eve, so we also sit down every January and have a “state of the marriage and family” address. We look at what we accomplished the year before, where we are headed, and what our goals are as we enter a new season of life. I break things down into categories: spiritual, emotional, physical, travel, financial, family, marriage, friendships and work. I set specific things I want to strive for and I don’t go overboard—I keep it manageable and I set specific action goals. Periodically through the year, I check back on my goals and assess how I am doing. In the summer I do a serious “half year” assessment to check my progress. Doing this has helped me to lead a “purposeful life”. Having goals and vision helps focus me on what is really important. It helps me stick to my core values. It helps me say no to things that don’t fit into my priorities in life. I can honestly look at my life and say that I have been pleased with my choices, especially those I have made after 30! Putting God, family, and friends at the center has kept me from being off balance in any one area of my life.
James 4:14 says: “What is your life? You are a mist that appears and then quickly vanishes”. We must start now being purposeful about this life we have. It is like a mist, a fog, a vapor, that is here for a short while. I always tell my youth kids this example: At the end of our lives we will all have one thing in common—an obituary or tombstone that has two dates on it—our birth and our death. Our LIFE is the hyphen in between those dates. That is IT. One hyphen--and how are we going to use that which has been given to us? We can wander aimlessly, we can waste it, or we can grasp hold of it with ferocity and tenacity and live each day with a willful purpose.
It has only been two weeks into 2014. How are you doing? I challenge you to set aside some time—alone, or with a significant other, and create purpose and vision for this year. Reflect upon the past, and move forward into the future, so that each present day is spent wisely. Set up your own categories and set attainable action plans. Take time out each month (or more often) to reflect upon your goals. Now I know that reflection and goal setting takes time. But if we keep up with our busy, hastened pace, we will continue on a cycle of “doing” for the sake of doing, instead of being all we can be in this hyphen we have been allotted.
Don’t wait for a tragic event or a life threatening illness to alter your thinking about the preciousness of this life. Stop, reflect, journal, pray, and head into the new year with purpose and intention to live the best life you can each and every day.