It's New Years.
Are you making resolutions this year? Lose weight, quit smoking, cut down on your Starbucks spending....
How about making some freedom resolutions?
Back in 2003 or 2004, I started a new way of creating resolutions (my former pastor's wife taught me this practice). Rather than focusing on specific things I wanted to change, I started to do the following:
1. Brainstorm the different roles you have in your life. Here are a few examples: wife, mom, friend, musician, child of God, daughter, etc.
2. Pray, and using God's direction, pick 2-3 that you'd like to work on for the year.
3. Brainstorm statements about what you'd like to improve upon (priorities).
4. Formulate goals accordingly.
Here's another things I learned. Goals should be SMART:
A quick note about goal-setting and figuring out if your goals are "SMART": try to think about whether or not your goal is something that someone would be able to hold you accountable to. If you say, "I'd like to read the Bible more" or "I'd like to make more Christian friends", it's not really measurable or specific enough, so someone wouldn't be able to hold you accountable to that. But it also needs to be realistic. Saying, "I'm going to read the whole Bible in a day" isn't really attainable nor is it realistic. Saying, "I'm going to find a weekly Bible study to join in the next 3 months" or "I'm going to read a chapter of the Bible 5 days a week" would fit the SMART model.
Think of a way to frame your goals so that you can assess whether or not you've reached them. Some goals may be more general and those are the ones that are more difficult to narrow down. Another question you could ask yourself is what are some practical steps I could take to achieve this goal?
Here are some examples of what I've done, in terms of brain-storming roles and making priorities and goals out of them.
For 2005, my focus roles were:
Lover of God
Yes, I chose too many, but as the year progressed, it became clear which ones were to be my main focus.
Based on that, my list of priorities:
To Keep my Focus on God:
• In My Actions
• In My Marriage
• In My Recovery
• In My Music and Singing
• In My Work with Others
That year, I ended up really focusing on healing. That focus naturally overflowed into my other relationships and roles. Practically, I focused on healing by growing in my understanding of who God is and who I am as His daughter, through reading the Bible and Christian books, listening to Christian speakers, growing in my friendships and praying. I unfortunately cannot find my specific goals that I set, but you get the picture.
Here's what I wrote at the end of 2005 as I reflected on my resolutions.
2005 has been a "breakout" year for me, truly. I heard a pastor preach on this theme at the beginning of the year, and I embraced it.
It was a choice.
And it was a hard choice, but healing and victory and joy and freedom are always choices that we can make, if that's what we truly want. If it's not what we want, then we will keep making the same mistakes. I decided I didn't want to live that way anymore. And praise be to God, I'm choosing not to live that way anymore, with God's help.
When you look toward 2011, what are your hopes and dreams? What are you looking forward to?
Do you want it to be a "break-out" year, like 2005 was for me?
What roles or areas of your life can you focus on in order to make it a break-out year?
Do you need to go to counseling, find a mentor, get a life/freedom coach, join a Bible study or support group, start going to church regularly, pray for God to re-make you, allow His spirit to illuminate who He is in new ways?
In the sermon I referenced above, my pastor played the Switchfoot song, "Dare You To Move". I wasn't super-familiar with the song, but I walked away thinking, over and over, "I dare you to move."
Today you have a choice: to stay stuck in the same place, doing the same things that are not working for you, or you can allow God to move you into true freedom.
I dare you to move.
I dare you to trust that the God of the universe has a vested interest in seeing you learn to walk into freedom.
Make a choice today: to do whatever it takes to make 2011 a break-out year for you.