The Year Ahead

Over the last few years I have made it a priority to try and develop a ‘personal growth plan’ at the start of each year.

I use that phrase because I see it as more than simple goal setting. (Interestingly it is a phrase I picked up from John Maxwell!)

For me it is about spending time with God, listening and trying to sense priorities for the year ahead – major life areas that I need to focus on and grow in. When I have a sense of what these are it does then entail setting some goals or establishing markers to head towards.

Normally I seek to grow in three main areas – character, ministry and lifestyle.

Character involves personal development, spiritual formation and the like and normally I only seek one or two growth areas here (usually that’s enough) Previously areas I have focussed on were things like servanthood and competitiveness.

Ministry and ‘work’ overlap for me – (as they ought to for most of us – whether we are in ‘paid ministry’ or not.) Normally I choose some key areas of ministry that need developing and make them primary focal points for the year.

Lifestyle relates to health and diet and exercise and relationships. My intention this year (injuries permitting) is to be able to run again regularly and to shed the 5 kilos that I have lugged around during this last twelve months.

You could look at that and say I have missed stuff. I don’t think it really matter though!

At the end of the day its not about getting the categories right. Its more about the time spent with God listening to him and hearing his direction and calling for me.

You may ask ‘why write it down?’ or ‘why record this as a plan?’

Pretty simple really. It increases intentionality and increase the chances of actually doing something. Most people I know who are intentional in their lives develop more and accomplish more than those who go with the flow.

There have been times in the past where this has been a fairly ‘binding’ thing for me whereas the last 5 or 6 years have been more relaxed. I don’t think its healthy not to plan ahead, nor is it healthy to be anal about it either. As with most things the balance lies somewhere in between.

I’m interested in what others do in this area.

It seems that any kind of ‘goal setting’ has acquired a bad rep in em church settings often because it has been equated with a modernistic ‘pure achievement’ oriented worldview. I’m not sure those who critique it like that have shown me a healthier way to go.

Any ideas?

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