As the year comes to a close and 2018 sits just on the horizon, many of us are probably starting to think about our New Year’s Resolutions.
Or, perhaps some aren’t planning on making any. They always fall through the cracks, no one ever finishes them, so why even bother?
But I’m here to challenge you, and myself, to not fall into such a defeatist mindset. Instead, why don’t we all make even bolder, bigger, crazier New Year’s Resolutions than ever before?
I know what it’s like to want to play it safe. If I don’t make too large of goals, then I’m sure to meet them, and then I’m saving myself the disappointment of failure.
But who ever changed the world by setting small, safe goals? Who ever made a difference by sticking to their comfort zone and attempting to keep themselves free from failure?
Spoiler alert: No one. Because that’s simply not how it works.
And we should want to change the world, or at least, make a little wave in our sphere of influence, right? I mean, isn’t that what Jesus told us to do?
You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)
As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit, which means that we are a lamp that has been lit. We can’t hide our light away and keep it to ourselves. No, we have to let it shine.
We let God shine through us so that the rest of the world can see His goodness and praise Him.
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
1 Peter 4:10-11 (NLT)
That means two things: First, yes, we need to dream big, because it’s only by dreaming big that we can really use God’s gifts to us to glorify him (and I’ll let you decide what “dreaming big” means; it’s different for each of us). Second, God doesn’t expect us or want us to reach those dreams on our own.
So a little plan of action to get you started:
1. Determine your God-given gifts.
This in and of itself could be an entire blog post (or even a series!), but I’ll leave you with a brief summary and a few links to help you out.
What’s your passion? What are your talents? What are your hobbies? Do those intersect at all? Whatever that intersection is could be a good starting point to figuring out your God-given gifts. Of course, the final test is: Does it align with God’s standards and God’s will? If it passes the scripture-test, then I think you’ve found it!
If that isn’t enough to get you going on your way, here are a couple helpful links on the subject:
- The Journey to Passion: Discovering What You Love To Do on Pursue Magazine
- The Seven Question Test: Wondering Why You Have THAT Passion on Pursue Magazine
2. Determine how you can use those God-given gifts.
It isn’t enough to have a passion. You have to have a set plan to act on that passion. Can you think of a long-term goal for that passion? What are one or two things you can do this next year with that God-given gift you have?
Just as an example, I believe God’s blessed me with the gift of writing. So, I’ve given myself a long-term goal of someday being a traditionally published author. That likely won’t happen in 2018, so I’ve given myself a few smaller goals to complete this coming year. First, I want to keep blogging here consistently (hopefully every week, but we’ll see what life and college have in store for me). I also want to revise a novel I completed earlier this year, and draft a new novel.
Those are my goals for 2018, at least in regards to my writing. What are your goals in regards to your God-given gift?
3. Determine a doable step-by-step plan to reach those goals.
If I just tell myself, “I’m going to write a novel,” I might never accomplish that. It’s a huge, lofty goal. So I’ll break my novel-writing into manageable steps.
But then, because I’m a dreamer, I tend to give myself huge long-term deadlines. I’ll say that I want step one done by this time, step two by this time, and on and on until I’m essentially saying that I’ll be signing with an agent in just a short while. It spirals out of control, and I find that I have to reign myself in and tell myself to focus only on the next big step or two. Otherwise, I get overwhelmed, and I get disheartened when I don’t hit all those steps exactly as I planned.
So I’ve broken my goals into manageable steps: First, I form a revision plan (working on that now, actually). Then, I form an outline for this second draft. Then, I write the second draft. And so on.
See what I mean? We’re much more likely to take steps towards achieving our goals if we make those steps doable and not completely overwhelming.
Rayleigh also wrote a wonderful guest post just a few weeks ago on achieving our goals, so I’ll leave that linked here for further reading if you feel so inclined.
3.5 Remember that you are never in this alone.
God gave you these gifts, and He doesn’t intend to leave you with them yourself. The verses from 1 Peter above say beautiful things like: “Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies” (emphasis added). These gifts are from Him, and our ability to use them comes from him as well. He is always with us, and He will give us all the tools we need to be the stewards He wants us to be. Throughout all of this, never forget to pray and trust Him.
4. Hold yourself accountable, and go out there and kick butt!
Tell someone your goals (or if you’re extreme like me, post about them on the internet… Apparently, I like torturing myself). If someone else knows what you’re trying to achieve, you’re much more likely to be more motivated to actually do what you said you were going to do. The last thing many of us will want to do will be to tell that person that we actually didn’t succeed, after all…
(Side note: I did this just a few weeks ago, with a little weekend writing goal I decided to give myself. I wanted to write 12,000 words in three days, so what did I do? I posted about it on Twitter. (Again, with the torturing myself. But I digress.) It did wonders for my motivation, and I ended up meeting that goal, largely because I knew that lots of people on Twitter were expecting me to.)
— Kayla Johansen (@kjohansen7) November 13, 2017
A little accountability goes a long way, folks. So, get yourself an accountability buddy, and set out to kick those goals in the rear end! Make a wave. Achieve awesome things. And give all the glory to God.