Winter is such an interesting season here in Georgia. Eventually it gets cold enough that we need a jacket and even gloves and beanie. It is often rainy, seldom snowy, but when it is, the whole country hears about us. (Snowpocalypse 2013). I miss all the green, reds, blues, purples and more of spring and lament the fallen orange leaves of fall. But without leaves on the trees, winter gives us a unique opportunity to see a little further through the trees, have our breath taken away by a frigid wind, and be reminded how comforting a warm home can be. All the acorns on the ground have taken root to grow and the flowers are preparing to blossom. It is like all of creation knows what is coming next. But for me, it is too easy for me to see my life in seconds instead of seasons. Often, I set daily and weekly goals and goals for 1 year and beyond, but I often miss the 90-day goal or the rhythm of seasonal growth. I allow moments to ruin a month and lose perspective on my mission.
If you knew that spring was coming, a season of flourishing and growth for you personally, what would you be doing right now? Lamenting over what was lost in autumn? Or sitting, remembering what used to be beautiful? Or would you be preparing yourself for growth? I want to share with you a perspective that I often missed in my life. I was too distracted by what I wanted to accomplish in 5 years, and the deadlines of this week to find joy for the present journey.
Here I will share with you some suggestions for a more sustainable rhythm for life and goal setting, one that follows the rhythm of seasons, not seconds. This perspective will allow us to identify real change in our life over the next 3 months, before the next season is upon us, with 3 steps.
You need to take an honest look at your life and identify the major areas of your life that you pour into. These major areas we will call roles. Identify the 4 major roles you have in your life and give them a name. Spiritual, Familial, Contributory, and Restorative. Your role with God, family and friends, work, and fun. What is your role with each of these categories? If you had to give a name to your relationship with God, what would it be? What about naming your role as a family member or friend? And similarly, with your work and your play. Spend time brainstorming and making at least 5 names for each category, and then choose one for each category that you believe to lineup with the role you have. Giving a role in your life a name might seem silly, but it will help clarify what is most important.
Looking at your 4 roles, how healthy are they right now? Does one role need more attention than the other over the next 90 days? If you want one role to grow and be healthier, which one would you pick? What is most urgent? Picking one role to invest in over the next 90 days (about 3 months), is a fantastic way to see improvement. You may be tempted to try and improve all 4 at the same time, I would caution choosing more than two to focus on in a season. Again, do not feel like you are failing because everything is not getting better all the time. That is not a realistic expectation. Get real with what you can get real with, and quit faking the 100% growth in every area of your life. You need to invest time and prayer into deciding a goal for your chosen role(s). What would you love to see happen in 3 months? This may be your first time setting a 90 goal that is not attendance based for Sunday School classes. Give yourself space to separate from routine thinking.
What do you need to do daily, weekly, and monthly, to achieve this goal? Set up markers on your calendar as check-up times. Do not just set this goal and forget it. Put this goal somewhere you will be reminded of it. A goal without a plan is just a daydream. Condense the goal into a two, or three, word phrase that you can repeat to yourself while you skip the cracks in the sidewalk. Let it guide the cadence with which you walk. Include this in your journal. Keep your 4 roles in mind as you go about your week. This awareness, even if subconscious, will gain you better perspective in where you are investing your time, money, heart, and energy. You may even find some patterns in your life that you were blind to before. I hope this process raises many questions for you. And that you will not answer those questions in solitude, but ask them to other people around you that you trust.
I know I said this was only 3 steps, but the beautiful thing about this rhythm is that, much like nature, it repeats. Make this evaluation and goal setting a part of your seasonal routine. Incorporate it into your annual rhythms. How awesome would it be to look back after a year and see how these 4 roles in your life have improved because of your intentional effort. Progress like this often change our trajectory more than we could project or calculate. This rhythm takes pressure off accomplishing everything in a week, or becoming a better husband/father in one weekend, and it injects purpose into what we do every day. It is God who oversees the results and us who is to be obedient.