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How to make 2020 a year of well-considered plans

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Happy New Year. Let’s start fresh and open ourselves to the possibility that this year can be open to real growth and positive change. Let’s look forward with hope to truly embracing the best God wants for us in the coming year. Let’s not abandon the resolutions before February. Let’s be twofold. It’s time to look forward to a life that is both intentional (with  well-considered goals and discipline) and open-handed. This is the year to be truly open to God’s grace, recognizing that we have very little control over what happens to us but complete control over how we respond.  

It’s good to sit for a while in the early days of a new year and let your pen push ideas across the paper. What do you want this year to look like? Prayerfully, what does God call you to create this year? How will you grow into your vocation in the next 12 months?  At first, your list might look like random bits and pieces, but as you do this exercise and pray your way through and record it all with your pen, you will see some clear patterns. What’s important is that the list is your list. Don’t google a list. Don’t create a list of what you think someone wants from you. Don’t work up a list that you think someone you admire would create. Make your list. This is your life. You were created for a unique purpose. Spend some time discerning what that purpose is.

Time is finite. We only have so much of it in every day, and we only have so much of it here on earth. What’s more, we don’t know how much time we have. What we do know is we have the here and now. With the unique set of circumstances in your life — your gifts and resources, the people God has clearly put in your life — what does it look like to live your life well? What matters to you in the light of faith? Assuming God grants you many years, who do you want to be when you come to the end of your life? Be very idealistic here. But also be very concrete. What matters most? What — exactly — does a life well-lived look like? Who does God call you uniquely to be?  Then work backward with your list of ideas. Which ideas on the list will be instrumental toward becoming who you want to be? What are the specific things you can pursue with the intention of answering God’s call in your life?

We want “right reason” goals. Because we cannot know the day or the hour, we want goals that align our lives with the will of God each and every day. We need to live in the present with an eye on the future. The way we spend the hours of each day add up to the way we spend our lives. This is where intentional planning is so important. It’s a delicate balance between planning (and living) as if each day is the last and planning (and living) with long-term, life-on-earth goals in mind.

If we want any chance at all to keep our resolutions and meet our goals, it’s important to consider why we have created them in the first place. Are the goals good for us? Are we chasing someone else’s idealized life, or have we had a frank and personal conversation with our creator and heard what he intends for us? If we make goals that are in step with God’s intention for our lives, then God gives us grace and strength enough to bring those goals to fruition. He won’t deny us everything we need to live the life he created us to live. The key to making resolutions we keep and setting goals we meet is to align them all with God’s will for our lives. Then, when life throws the unexpected at us, we offer him each day with hands wide open to his grace and purpose, and we allow God himself to “tweak” the plans we’ve laid anew for his greater glory. This time next year, we can look back with thanks and praise for the ways he’s worked all things — all those well-considered but loosely held plans — for the glory of God and the good of our souls.

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, writes from Northern Virginia.

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