When I write the word “January,” what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  New Year’s resolutions, right?  January is a time of year we traditionally set goals and indulge in all kinds of self- improvement plans.   For some folks, planning is power, and it feels good. A well-made goal is halfway to success for those highly organized and checklist-loving types of personalities.

I can say this from years of experience of being married to an  ESTJ (that is Meyer’s-Briggs talk for organized, result-making leaders) –I have just asked my hubs for confirmation on this and no kidding, he just happened to have a notebook in his hand where he organizes these kinds of test results.  Go figure. For others, planning is pressure, and it can feel rather confining, or even overwhelming.

Seriously, what if I spend good time working on a goal and then change my mind?  Or, how bad will I feel if I don’t accomplish my goal?  For those like me, we see the value of the idea, but often have trouble actually getting around to it. And if I do get around to it, chances are I will have forgotten all about it by March.   Most of us are probably hanging out somewhere in the middle.

How about you? Have you spent much time thinking about your goals and plans this year?  Who you want to be, what you want to do, where you want to go, what you want to accomplish?

For some reason, when I think about making goals and plans I think of blueprints for a building. Just as goals and plans are tools to help us accomplish or complete something, every building project has a blueprint that gives a detailed outline or plan.

Before the building process can start, the plans must be complete. The builder must also refer to the plans constantly, checking and double checking. I know these things because I did some deep research in a casual conversation with my engineer neighbor.

Well, I am learning (the hard way, don’t you know) that having my goals written down in a visible place really does help me stay motivated.  I think I just heard a “hallelujah” from the peanut gallery where my husband is currently checking off his first couple of goals as already completed!  Yikes, I am behind already….

Because I have been blessed/cursed with a go-with-the-flow personality, I am often tempted to skip any kind of detailed planning in my impatience to get started, get done, and move on.  Time spent planning is time that could have been spent reading a good book, or some other more enjoyable activity.

Most of us are much more interested in the results, the finished product rather than the process.  The blueprint for a building shows the time and planning that the architect has used to prepare for a successful project.  As with all processes, there is a logical starting place and an order to the steps in the process.  The site is cleared, the foundation laid, framework, wiring, plumbing, walls are filled in, windows installed, and the roof laid…  and all kinds of other stuff I don’t know about because I didn’t spend that long talking to my neighbor.

As with every building, in every life, God has an orderly plan for our lives and he works from the inside to the outside.

Have you ever thought about why builders don’t start with the outside of the building?

A roof isn’t going to do me much good if I don’t have stable walls to rest it on, right?  All buildings must have an internal strength and structure that designates where the outer details built.

You are probably starting to wonder what in the world this has to do with making goals and plans for this new year….yea, me too.  Just kidding, I actually have a point, which is this:  This year is a significant portion in God’s plan for our lives.

He can do a lot with, in, and for us in 365 days, which is 8760 hours.  Now it stands to reason, that if I will cooperate and actively participate in the process, God can make good use of 2011 in my life.  I don’t know about you, but I have better things to do this year than miss out on what God wants to build in me.

Ephesians 1:11 in The Message states:  It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.  Long before we first heard of Christ,….he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

So, this verse is reminding me that before I could even say the name, “Jesus,” that He had a plan that included me.  This verse also nudges me to recognize that there is great value and purpose that Christ gives to my life, and that he is actively working in and around me for his purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11 also points to the fact that God makes plans for us too:

‘”For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”  This verse shows me that God’s plans for me are worthwhile and full of hope.

Purpose and hope…sounds good to me.  Bring it on!  Swing by for my next post and I’ll share with you a few of my goals for 2011 (just as soon as I figure out what they are), as well as some thoughts about how to make goals that enhance your spiritual growth.

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