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5 Steps for Goal Recommitment

GoalsThink back to the resolutions or goals you set in January. Less than 5 months ago,  yet it feels like years have passed! Did you write them down? Do you remember what they were…or would you rather forget?

How well have you done with your goals? Perhaps you haven’t thought about them for months. Maybe you recall them but just gave up. Maybe you’re one of the few pleased with your progression, but want to do even better.

We’ve all been enmeshed in a giant “pause.” Terms such as shelter in place, quarantine, and social distancing have wreaked havoc with our plans and our goals for 2020. If you’re anything like me, you may have thought that staying home would give you extra time to work on your manuscript. But for many of us, the disruptions to our routines, combined with new concerns such as homeschooling children or where to buy toilet paper have shattered our hopes to get that book finished.

Whether you’re focusing on your own goals or encouraging others, this is the perfect month to talk about it because May is National Recommitment Month. It’s a time to review the resolutions you made or the goals you set.

Your goals might be related to physical health, such as diet, exercise, or conquering a habit or addiction. Or they might be relationship-oriented, focusing on issues of forgiveness and restoration. Perhaps your objectives are in the financial realm, such as managing debt or exploring new investments. Maybe you set a goal of tackling a new challenge, one you’ve never attempted before. And of course, they can be writing-related.

Regardless of what your goals are, here are five ways you can encourage yourself and others to recommit.

1. Avoid guilt trips

As we move through the month of May, we’re approaching the halfway point of the year. Our natural inclination is to beat ourselves up for failing to meet our goals or accomplish our resolutions.

Maybe with the strain of juggling work-from-home demands, family responsibilities, and home-schooling in addition to all your usual activities has forced your writing onto a back burner.

Perhaps you’re lacking motivation because the pandemic hit just as you were approaching the “sagging middle” of your novel. You haven’t picked it up again because, frankly, you’re not certain of how to progress the story.

Maybe you’re struggling because your objectives are tasks you have to do, not items you want to do. The right motive makes a remarkable difference in accomplishing goals. You may need to tweak your objectives to examine them in light of the things you want to do. How can the objectives you have to complete help you accomplish the aims you want to complete?

Perhaps the toll of caring for ill loved ones or sadly, the tragedy of losing loved ones in this pandemic, has consumed your emotional energy and depleted your creative drive.

Regardless of why you’ve stalled in your writing, don’t beat yourself up. If you didn’t achieve your objectives today, remember tomorrow’s a new day.

2. Define success

Perhaps you haven’t made progress because your goals are too vague. Finish my story. Market my book. Develop my writing skills. Even if you accomplished these goals, how would you define success?

Re-examine and tweak your objectives to make them SMART. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Assembling SMART goals will make it easier for you to both define success and achieve it.

3. Take one day at a time

Have you ever been asked how one eats an elephant? The answer is simple: one bite at a time.

When it comes to your goals, there may be days when you feel as if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Are your resolutions overly ambitious? Once you’ve established SMART goals, you can develop interim action steps and benchmarks.

As the saying goes, “nothing succeeds like success.” So create objectives that enable smaller successes on your way to accomplishing the final goal.

The more worthwhile the objective, the more effort it will require and the longer it will take to accomplish. The question to ask may not be whether you’ve achieved your goal. The better question to ask may be, are you making progress toward your goal?

And if your goal is to develop your fiction writing skills, a good step might be to register for the Write2Ignite Fiction Master Class on September 19!

Don’t be discouraged…and keep chewing, one bite at a time!

4. Encourage accountability

When John Donne penned the words of the poem, “No Man Is an Island,” he could not have realized the impact his work would continue to have almost 400 years later.

We need each other. We need love, fellowship, and encouragement. With regard to our goals and objectives, we also need accountability partners and prayer partners. Being transparent makes us vulnerable, which can be scary. But if we refuse vulnerability, we’ll cheat ourselves out of the support we need to achieve our objectives.

With whom have you shared your writing goals? Have you given them permission to ask you about your progress? Have you scheduled specific times to meet for accountability?

Who will you ask to pray for you as you recommit to your resolutions? What a privilege it is to know you and your goals are being brought before God’s throne on a regular basis!

5. Reward yourself

Celebrate your successes. Reward yourself each time you reach a new benchmark. Be alert to even the smallest achievements, which are often lost in the shuffle of our day-to-day commitments, and certainly in our Coronavirus-sensitive environment.

Those achievements do not always come in a way you might expect. Sometimes they come in the form of dogged perseverance. Other times they will appear, not in standing firm, but knowing when to retreat and regroup before you try again.

The important thing is to identify progress…and celebrate it.

As we recognize National Recommitment Month, what resolutions, goals, or objectives will you recommit to?

Have You Ever Doubted that God is Good All the Time?

God is goodWhen a friend had successful cancer surgery, she joyfully announced the results, along with her conclusion that God is good. And the social media responses were positive and predictable:

 

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Do You Google?

Google and the InternetWhen I was 14 years old, I won the grand prize in a contest: a set of encyclopedias. I know—not very exciting, is it? But this was in the ancient days before computers, personal or otherwise. You’d have thought I won London’s crown jewels!

I was so proud of that prize. It replaced the 25-year-old encyclopedias my parents owned. This new set included photos and up-to-date entries. Don’t laugh—I stayed up nights just reading about various subjects for the pure joy of learning. Yes, I was a bookworm…or nerd…or geek…or whatever it’s called today.

Those encyclopedias took me through high school and into college. Back then, computers were the size of a room and programming really was a foreign language. As personal computing evolved, so did access to information. Eventually we were no longer restricted to physical books, or even a physical library, to satisfy our hunger for information.

The internet became the new frontier – the digital equivalent of the wild west. And search engines became our railroad for traveling this frontier. Search engines changed the way we access information. Lycos, Google, Dogpile, Ask Jeeves (which morphed into Ask.com), and Bing were just a few of the sites that helped us retrieve data from the World Wide Web. Their names were as creative and varied as the information they provided.

Still, information takes us only so far. The bigger question is, how are we using the information? Interpretation and application determine if the information becomes truly helpful, or if it remains an info dump or even a temptation swamp we wade through each time we turn on the laptop. Two potential quagmires readily come to mind:

Personal Impact

With all the blogs, tweets, networks, websites, and search engines out there, it’s way too easy to allow the information overload to sap our energy, drain our time, and influence our values as we passively take it all in.

Discernment is not a word we often hear these days. Yet, discernment is exactly what we need to process the information that’s so readily available. Depending on your perspective, search engine filters are either a necessary moral protection or a restriction on free speech. Still, even with the use of filters, we cannot abdicate our responsibility to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) and minds by guarding our eyes and ears.

Writing Research

As writers, we also have a responsibility to be discerning in our research. Information is readily accessible for our writing needs, but just because we find data online doesn’t mean it’s accurate. Googling our questions is easy. Discerning how we use what we learn is more difficult. Whether we write books, magazine articles, blogs, or devotions, readers view us as having implied authority. We have a responsibility to investigate the accuracy of our research before we use it. As we’ve all heard, “Google, but verify!”

Each time I turn on the computer, the Holy Spirit calls me to be aware of the fine line between gaining knowledge and losing myself, both as an individual and as a writer. How about you?

What are you doing to guard both your heart and your credibility when you use the internet?

Using Words to Leave a Legacy

Using words to leave a legacyA pastor-friend once preached a message on how to leave a legacy. Legacies were on his mind because he had been recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. He had been thinking a lot about his own legacy, which in turn motivated me to think about mine.

I wasn’t sure I had a legacy, or if I even needed one. We don’t have children, and I considered the subject irrelevant. Still, his message struck a chord in me.

My family and friends have children and grandchildren. Most of the participants in the Bible studies I teach also have children and grandchildren. But physical descendants are not the only recipients of a legacy. I could choose to live in a way that passes the baton of faith to the next generation, even if the next generation is not my own.

Investing in these young lives isn’t just about teaching Sunday school or mid-week Bible study. It’s about spending time with the younger generation. Learning their likes and dislikes instead of complaining about our differences. Sincerely attempting to relate to their interests, even if I’m not always successful. Most of all, it’s about being interested in them as individuals.

More than thirty years have passed since I first heard that message. A few months ago, I began to wonder how effective I’ve been in investing in the next generation.

A partial answer came through Facebook during this past Christmas season. Several young people commented on childhood memories of decorating gingerbread houses at our home each year. Now married with children, they talked about carrying on that tradition in their own families.

Decorating gingerbread houses may not be especially spiritual. Still, I pray the candy and icing are only a small portion of their memories. Perhaps they also remember bits and pieces of our conversations. Maybe they don’t recall the conversations at all – but they remember a warm, welcoming, loving environment as we celebrated Jesus’ birth. And perhaps, that’s enough…for them and for their own children.

However, as writers—especially writers for children—we have the privilege of leaving a legacy another way. We can communicate eternal concepts with the gift of words. Whether it’s sharing the gospel or writing novels with a biblical world view, we can give our young readers a solid foundation. A solid foundation that will help enable them to grow into the godly men and women the Lord intends them to be.

May the words we write leave a legacy for the good of our readers, but most of all for God’s glory. Let’s use our words to fulfill the psalmist’s proclamation: “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord” (Psalm 78:4 NIV).

 

* A version of this post first appeared on Ava’s inspirational blog.

More Than Called…

Called

Each of us has been called to serve our mighty God in a unique way. But we can become too busy fulfilling our call that we only focus on the “doing.” We want to do better—to write well, to teach effectively, to do whatever we’ve been called to do to the best of our ability

Yet our ability is limited. We often struggle with our inadequacy as we represent the King of Kings. And of course, and we seek His enabling to accomplish His purposes.

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