The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

5 Steps to a Meaningful New Year!

Posted on: December 29, 2015

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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DAYDREAM AND A PLAN IS STRATEGY

Harold Kushner made the following observation in his book, When All You Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough:

“Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Those rewards create almost as many problems as they solve. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so that the world will be at least a little bit different for our having passed through it. Happiness does not come by pursuing happiness. You become happy by living a life that means something.” (page 59)

While this is transparently true, the difference between a life of meaning and underachieving is “planning.” We must translate our desire to do something into actionThe old adage is true: “Failure to plan is planning to fail.”

As I have been studying and thinking about the year ahead, I have found the following five steps to be a very helpful strategy in transforming a daydream into a plan.

  1. Imagine what you would like to do for God. If you could do anything you wanted to for God in 2016 and knew that you would succeed, what would you do? We need to take time in prayer and reflection before the Lord, asking for His leading and guidance in this process. But eventually, after we are finished praying and thinking, we must take action. If this is to become more than “sanctified daydreaming”, we must take the next step.
  1. Write down your goals as specifically as you can envision them now. This will have a number of very helpful consequences.
    1. Give you clarity. Until then, your thoughts are likely to be so imprecise that they may not be very helpful in guiding your actions.
    2. Trigger your Reticular Activating System. The R.A.S. is that part of the brain that helps you find things you want, that notices things you would not have noticed otherwise. Acting like a “bouncer” at the door of your brain, it lets in things you decide are important and keeps out things you don’t think are important. So, writing down your goal tells your brain that it is important.
    3. Feed your subconscious. After we have decided what is important, our subconscious goes to work processing information and feeding back to our conscious mind new and improved thinking on the subject.
    4. Increase your odds. Research has revealed that just the simple act of writing down a goal significantly increases the odds of achieving it.
  1. Outline the components that will need to happen to achieve your goal. The way you eat an elephant is one bite at a time. So, the big goal must be broken down into its components so that you see its parts.
  1. Calendar all components in the outline, scheduling a date for the completion of each component, as well as a final completion date.
  1. Review your goals daily. This will accomplish several important things.
    1. Prayer: This will also act as your prayer list for your goals.
    2. Radar Screen: If you do not review them daily, you will lose sight of them, and you’ll realize six months later that you have not made any significant progress toward your goals.
    3. RAS/Subconscious: Daily review of your goals refines and continues to feed the Reticular Activating System and subconscious, increasing the odds that you will be able to achieve your goals.
    4. Keep you engaged: It will keep you thinking and planning about what you can do today to pursue your goals, and will help you capitalize on unforeseen opportunities.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” This tells us that God has good works that He has prepared for us. In addition, He has gifted us to be able to do them (Galatians 6:10). Finally, He has promised to reward us for doing them (2 Corinthians 5:10).

As we pursue these things He has called us to, we experience a life of purpose and meaning. But it is only as we plan to do them that we will be effective in accomplishing them. So, “planning” is key to experiencing a sense of “purpose.” Planning puts wheels on our dreams, and translates intentions into accomplishments.

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