Image credit: Janine Ripper

Blog: A New Approach to the New Year

(Image credit: Janine Ripper)

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver
Well done on making it to the 2nd working week of the New Year! How are you feeling? Have you settled on what you’d like to accomplish? I’m still finding left over chocolate and overeating at dinnertime… It’s a slow start. But I’ve been making up for it by reading like CRAZY (which is disciplined right?).

Depending on how this year kicked off for you, you may feel overwhelmed by what’s stretching out ahead, or guilty for 2015’s unfinished tasks. Perhaps you’re in a season of full-on new beginnings, building again from the ground up.

Wherever you’re at, it’s worth taking a moment to pause – before you get swept up in expectations of a new year, lost under pressure to ‘achieve’. This year is about more than checking off to-do lists, or notching up accolades. It’s about diving deeper into your calling, and progressing in your purpose.

When you set goals and design ‘dream boards’, you’re not trying to record your ‘race to top’. You’re attempting to give intention to activities, and direction to your life: are you serving your ultimate vision?

Now before we go further, know my encouragement of pursuing vision isn’t for selfish gain. My belief is when vision aligns to calling our best opportunity to contribute to our world has surfaced. And we best chase after it wholeheartedly.

Yes, we’ll be fulfilled because we’re doing what we’re created for, but it’s not a singular quest to ‘be our best self’; we’re pursuing vision and goals because we understand the significance of our call.

In my summer reading I came across ‘Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less’ by Greg McKeown. At a time of year when it’s tempting to overfill our schedules and force clarity on 5-year plans, McKeown verbalizes our need to drill down on our ‘why’, and design our lives rather than just live them.

He reminds us to do “less, but better”. To think about the handful of things we’ll “go big on”. Reiterating it’s not about the quantity of our goals, but the quality of our achievement.

This year if you want to prioritize your purpose, here’s 4 things to consider:

1) Don’t give up on what you want most, for what you want for the moment.

There are going to be times when you feel like an extra hour of sleep as opposed to a run, or going out to the movies instead of finishing that book chapter, it happens. We need rest, and we need downtime. It’s ok. But if you’re in a habit of letting the big picture go in favour of a lazy alternative, you can’t expect results. Ask yourself, what do I want? And what do I want MOST? Does my immediate desire for double-choc ice cream serve my ultimate desire for improved health and fitness? If the answer is no, change your choice. Go big.

2) Prepare for the vision you see.

In my book I tell a story about a dream list I had for my future. I found it years later and noticed the only ones I’d done were those I acted on. Seems like a no brainer, but if we have vision for our lives we need to actively prepare for it. If you see yourself preaching in front of thousands, singing, teaching, living in another country, get ready. Learn the languages you need, educate yourself on theology, get singing lessons. Don’t just daydream; respond to the vision with action.

3) Prioritize people, not just purpose.

While focusing on your call, don’t forget at the end of the day it’s about people. Our purpose is our greatest contribution to the world because it serves people. It comes back to love and relationship. The extent of our purposes’ impact and instigation of change is held in its affect on people. Don’t be so driven by outcome you lose sight of your ‘why’ along the way. Give time to relationship.

4) You are who you are, before you do what you do.

Your identity is not defined by the job you take or the activities to which you apply yourself. Our call, our purpose, exists beyond current circumstance. Even when your role is consistent with your vision, attaining congruency isn’t a precursor to identity; it’s an expression of it. You kicked butt the moment you were born.

Instead of measuring yourself against resolutions this year, create goals that serve your purpose. What are you “going big” on? Are you preparing for, and building toward your vision?

You’ve got this.


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