As the year draw to a close and a new one inches even closer, I find a lot of my friends already planning for the coming year ahead. Just earlier this month, a friend of mine asked in our group chat, “How far along do you plan your life?” I had to pause before I answered, if only because I never really thought about it. I just thought it was something I did every year.
Are you a planner? I think I’d consider myself as someone who plans, but not obsessively. I used to be a lot more uptight about the way I planned, then I got serious about my faith and everything changed. I’ve since then only considered three simple things as I begin every year. It has saved me brain space and energy, because I’ve got these things locked in before the year began.
Consider your priorities.
When I say consider your priorities, I mean list them down, order them, and exhaust all means to protect your priorities. For example: (1) God; (2) Family; (3) Career; (4) Personal Growth i.e. fitness, budgeting, skills training, reading; (5) Relationships; (6) Ministry i.e. volunteer, small group
You cannot possibly devote equal energy to all. Doing so will run the risk of burn out before the year ends, and also added frustration on your end.
So down list your priorities. Take note of the hierarchy. Fight, keep, and protect that which you place on the top of the list.
By the end of next year, the person without regrets is the one who knew what was important and fought to preserve it.
There is only one exception to preserving this rule—your big rocks.
Consider your big rocks.
What are the big events that are happening in the coming year? A friend’s wedding? Your upcoming family trip? The lump sum due of a property you’ve been investing on? That big conference you’re planning at work?
While there is such a thing as unforeseen expenses and events, there are also events that have already been set in stone. For the case of the latter, I would recommend planning your way around it.
Let’s stay your priorities were: (1) God; (2) Family; (3) Personal Growth i.e. budgeting, saving, investing, learning; (4) Career; (5) Relationships
You’re planning a conference that will take place in August. A month before the conference, you are already expecting a lot of overtime work, crunch time decisions, and maybe even weekends in the office.
Even if “Career” is considered a lesser priority than “Family,” your work during this season will undeniably take a very, very urgent place in your life. It’s inescapable.
So while it may sound tempting to forgo your family during this season, I believe that there still is a way to put them as a priority in these busy times. One way is to spend as much time with your family months before, be open and honest with them about your schedule in July, but still be available for them in case of emergency.
Just because you’ll be spending more time catering to a more urgent priority for a season doesn’t mean that you should drop the far more important priorities in your life.
Here’s the thing about seasons—there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. And to embrace the reality of seasons is to acquaint yourself with the inescapable shifts in priorities for a time, be a good steward of the season God has given you, and when it’s over, let go and go back to what’s really important.
Think of your weight before, during, and after the holidays. The weighing scale may tell you that you’ve gained x amount of pends over the holidays, but give it some time, you will shift back to your default weight as you go back to your regular diet and exercise routine.
But if there’s one person that changes all others— God Himself.
Consider your God.
We can plan all we want, prepare as much as we can, but God’s plans and purposes will always stand.
Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”
Proverbs 19:21 puts it this way: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
I used to get really thrown off whenever some foreseen or unforeseen event changed my plans. I thought it was normal; that it was a natural human tendency.
But after I gave my life to Christ, I realized that this kind of thinking came from two really dark and sinful places. It meant that I desired to play god instead of God, and that I didn’t trust in His plans for me.
Then two years ago, about a week before a youth conference that my office was planning, I remember my wise officemate named Fiona telling our committee heads and volunteers at a meeting something I never forgot. “The program isn’t finished until it is finished.”
Out of curiosity, I asked her privately after what she meant by that. Her response stayed with me to this day. “We always allow God to move. If He tells us to go this way, even if it’s not in the program, we will adjust to His direction. Always make room for God to move.”
Allow God to move in your life in the coming year because God’s plans are far greater, bigger, and better than what you could ever think of or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
To end, let me share with you a secret:
The only way to see Him to move in your life and experience all that He has in store for your is by putting Him at the top of your priorities in the coming year. And I’m not just talking about placing God as number one, and the other priorities as a close second. Put Him in a place that is infinitely far above all others because that is His rightful place in your life, and doing so will rightfully order all the other priorities in your life.
With this, have a greater, bigger, and better new year!