Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Planning for a happy new year!

The coming of the new year is more than banging pans and drinking champagne. It is a great time to check in on how we are doing and make plans for the coming year. Here are a few suggestions I jotted down.
  • The Red Dot: Where Are You Now?
    Start with a frank assessment of your present situation. Most shopping malls have maps encased in glass to help us find our way. The key to reading the map is to find the red dot with the declaration, “YOU ARE HERE.” If we can locate where we are, we have a better chance of knowing how to get to where we want to be.

  • Your Passion: What Moves You?
    Once you have a good idea where you are, you can start asking yourself questions that will reveal what you want to achieve in 2010.

    What are the issues you care about? What breaks your heart, makes you cry, makes you feel? Is it children? The mentally ill? The elderly? Single mothers? Is there some issue that has evidenced itself in your family?

    I care about arthritis because my father suffered with it. I care about single moms because my daughter has become one. I care about kids in the city because my kids were raised in the city, and many of their friends have been incarcerated, are living in dire circumstances, or have lost their lives to street violence. I care about the homeless because many of them have become my friends, and I have listened to their stories.

    What issues matter most to you? Education? Healthcare? Economic development? Housing? Nutrition? Hunger? What do you think needs to be changed in order for everyone to have equal opportunity? What moves you emotionally?

    Theologian Frederick Buechner wrote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” What makes you glad?

    I am made glad by seeing underdogs turn their lives around. I love to see people who have never had hope for their future begin to dream. I love to develop leaders. I love to see people operate in their area of giftedness. I love to build things, create things. It makes me glad. Where does your deep gladness meet the world’s deep hunger?

  • Pray for Guidance: Where Is God Leading You?
    Take time to sit in prayer with God, affirming you openness to making changes in your life as the Spirit directs you.

    If there is any hint of guilt or self-condemnation, lay it at Jesus’ feet and know that he loves you. Imagine that Jesus is picking up a towel and washing your feet. Look into his eyes and feel his love for you just as you are. There is nothing you can do to get God to love you more. Jesus does not require your acts of service to win his love. He just invites you to take up the towel and follow him because he loves you. This is not a burden. It’s an adventure.

    Where is God leading you? Ask God to give you a vision for what you are being called to. Spend thirty minutes in uninterrupted silence, letting God speak to you through your thoughts.

  • Write Down Your Vision: Where Are You Going? What would your life look like if you responded fully to your calling. Can you picture it? Write about it in as much detail as you can. Draw or paint your image of yourself carrying out your vision. What will you be doing five years from now that will leave your mark on the world? What will you do in 2010 to move toward your calling. What would you like to be said of you at your funeral? Write it down. Read it out loud.

  • Build Your Plan
    What do you need to do now to move you toward your goal? Build a five-year plan and break it down into years, quarters, weeks and days. Schedule appointments with God on your calendar in order to check in on how you are doing in carrying out the plan that God has given you.

    Bill Lutes, former program manager for Wisconsin Public Radio, wrote, “All one can do is make little beginnings, to try to do ‘the next right thing.’” What is the next right thing for you to do? What do you need to focus on? What do you need to cut out? What do you need to prioritize?

  • Share Your Plan with a Friend
    This is not something you can do by yourself. You need others to join you. Invite them into your plan. Ask for their help. Ask a trusted friend to hold you accountable.

  • Execute
    Nike says it best, “Just do it”! Your life will become so much more meaningful when you begin to spend it meaningfully on behalf of others. I don’t know anyone who has begun to invest their time, talent and treasure on behalf of others who has lived to regret it.

  • Dream Big
    Big problems need big solutions. There is no end to the opportunities to change the world and to make an impact. There are emerging enterprise initiatives that stretch our imagination and creativity with new ways of empowering people. Dare to dream big and join a coalition of others who share your vision.
I'm looking forward to a great year in 2010. I hope you are too. Happy new year!!

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