2020 – Lessons learned
I am the sort of person that likes to think ahead. I have five, ten and even twenty year goals and a vision for what I want to see, do and achieve in life. I have been told that I ‘plan too much’ on a number of occasions by different people. I naturally disagree! I think it is important to have a broad outline of what your goals and vision are for the future and to plan accordingly. Most importantly, it is key to have a good understanding of your purpose and then plan actions to take to ensure you are aligned with it. For me, this has required lots of prayer, meditation and journalling to ensure that my plans are aligned with God’s purpose for my life. Of course, life is full of unknowns and my plans have been adapted as I have encountered different challenges, but it has been helpful to have a rough path drawn out to follow. Those that tell me I plan too much usually say it doesn’t make sense to plan when there are so many unknowns – my view is that because there are unknowns it makes it even more important to plan. Taking COVID-19 as an example, this was a year where a lot of people found themselves under financial strain – through no fault of their own. Planning ahead for a rainy day by having an emergency fund for example is one example of an action that seems relatively unimportant to most people, but could make a big difference in challenging times.
Taking the time now, before the new year starts, is a great opportunity to write down your vision, priorities and goals for the year ahead and reflect on the year that has gone. The fact that you made it to the end of it with your health (physical and mental) in tact is an achievement in itself and can even be a goal that you set for next year. It is important to ‘write the vision clearly’ (Hab 2:2) so that you can easily reference your goals and even look back on the journey to see how far you have come. Below I have listed five tips to help you with planning the year ahead.
1) Pray/meditate and ensure your plans are aligned with God’s will for your life – Meditate and read books that help you figure out your purpose. Looking at your passions and strengths often provide a strong indication of your purpose. ‘A Purpose Driven Life’ by Rick Warren is a great book for providing structure around this. It also helps to journal and write down any thoughts or ideas you have. Anything that comes up as a recurring topic should definitely be explored more.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Prov 19:21)
2) Don’t share your plans or vision with everyone – Sometimes a vision only makes sense to you because you are the one that is meant to fulfil it. Sharing it with people who do not align with the vision can result in you being distracted and even discouraged. It is better to use that energy to carry out your goals and then let the results speak for themselves!
3) Tell your plans to people who can motivate you and hold you accountable – It is important to have mentors in your life. I see people who have achieved exactly what I want to do and I gain so much from having discussions with them and bouncing ideas back and forth. There is so much you can learn from someone who has had experience and has made mistakes that you can avoid by learning from them. You should also share your plans with your peers who are willing to support you and provide that extra push on the days where you feel demotivated – it can make all the difference when you receive even just one encouraging message.
4) Have confidence in yourself and your abilities – Sometimes the main person holding us back is ourselves. You have to believe that you are capable of achieving whatever it is you set your mind to – as clichéd as that may sound.
5) Be flexible – As I mentioned before, sometimes stumbling blocks crop up and things that we never could have imagined or planned for happen. Sometimes you may find that you need to adapt and change your trajectory slightly. This does not mean you have failed – there are several routes you can take to get to your final vision and it actually takes great strength and maturity to be flexible and adapt as situations do.
A wise man once said ‘The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.’ Take your time to figure out your goals and don’t feel like there is any rush to complete certain tasks because people around you have – this is your own journey. Let me know any plans you have for the year ahead and feel free to look at my goal planning article from last year here for more tips.