Are You Thinking Long-Term?

Do you know where you want to be in life this time next year? In five years? In ten or twenty years? If you've prayed about the direction God would lead you, you'll want to do some serious long-term planning.

And that means lists! I love lists - I have daily lists, weekly lists, monthly lists, yearly lists, prayer lists and lists of what lists I have. I enjoy making them, following them and marking things off them. I even have a friend who buys notepads for me just so I can make more lists!

When you're thinking about the future and the goals you'd like to attain, figuring out the steps to get there is vitally important. Most long-term goals have lots of little short-term goals that lead up to them. Making lists of those steps and seeing in black and white what needs to be done can make reaching them a little easier.

* How do I choose my goals? The first step to that is prayer. Ask the Lord to show you what's truly important in His plan for your life. This is the only way you'll achieve what you set out to do.

From there, picture your life ten years from now if nothing were to change. Are there things in your home that need improving, trips you'd like to take or a career change you'd like to make? Maybe you'd like to start homeschooling or move to another part of the country. Whatever God is leading you to do, write these goals down.

* What do I need to do to reach those goals? Begin by setting smaller, short-term goals for each longer goal -the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Set up a time line for when you'd like to accomplish each small step so you have something to push toward.

For example: I want to save enough money to remodel the kitchen. I will save $x from each paycheck. I will have $xx saved up by December. These don't have to be written in stone, but seeing some numbers on paper can really let reality sink in.

* How can I help myself follow through? Get an accountability partner if you need one to keep you on track. Tell them your goals and time line so they can keep you focused.

Post your goals somewhere obvious so you'll have to look at them every day. Put a sticky note on the mirror. Tape a picture to the refrigerator. Wrap a note around your credit card. Do something out of the ordinary that will really get your attention.

* What do I do when I'm stuck on one goal? Ask yourself if it's the goal that's the problem or something personally. Maybe the goal is too big or can't be completed at this moment in your life. Or perhaps you've procrastinated or gotten lazy about fulfilling it. Maybe you just need a jump-start on this one, or a different way to approach it. Don't consider it a failure if there's some other way to achieve it.

* What if I don't achieve my goals? Goal-setting is a trial-and-error, day-by-day process. If something didn't work out today, pray about it and try again tomorrow. Or pray about it and change the goal a little. Nothing says you are locked in to these goals forever or that you have to accomplish them exactly like you'd planned.

God is pleased when we put in the effort to serve Him and live for Him. If we pray for the strength to achieve wonderful things in our lives, He is faithful to provide. There are so many wonderful opportunities in the future and a little planning, and prayer, is all we need to reach them.


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