Begin with the End in Mind
As a new school year starts for my kids, I get a little caught up in their shiny new folders and mechanical pencils and would love to believe that this year will be as sparkling as their currently mud-less tennis shoes.
But a few flashbacks to our previous year, reveal a few times where we were completely ‘squeezed’ by life’s pressures and demands. And when you’re ‘squeezed,’ what’s going on deep inside is revealed. We saw a few areas of weakness in myself, my kids and our systems.
I recall saying yes to so many ‘great opportunities’ that I felt more like a human ‘doing’ than a human ‘being. Racing to get my kids where they needed to be, turned me into more of a time manager than a mother at times.
It’s a blessing to see those areas of weaknesses though. The first step in growing is being open to our imperfections and open to change. We could choose to distract ourselves in the endless forms of entertainment, grab a pumpkin latte and pretend everything is great. But the fact that you’re reading this tells me you like to be intentional, as do I.
This is why I’m thinking a lot about: ‘Beginning with the end in mind.’ A concept that applies to anyone in any chapter of life. Our situations, strengths and weaknesses vary. But visualizing how we want to end, what obstacles we’ll face on the way, and how we’ll stay on track can make the difference in wandering aimlessly through the year vs. getting where we want to be.
- Take time to visualize, and pray through your goals, commitments and priorities.
There is so many great opportunities and responsibilities… But without a clear direction of your top priorities, you’ll quickly feel as if you’re blown around in the wind, without a clear direction. Not to mention that self-care will likely fall off of the list altogether, leaving your soul dry and depleted. Saying yes to one thing will become a no to another, so it’s important to have a clear picture of what your priorities are.
Your priorities may include: certain activities, seasons of life (do you need a time of healing or change), what character qualities do I want to grow in myself or my kids…
This year our family will miss our 4H club that we’ve grown to love, to instead further develop some ‘life’ skills that can best be taught around our home.
- Take into account your unique strengths and weakness, and determine what tools you need to work with and around them.
One of my strengths also acts as a weakness in some situations (as can often be the case). While I love to be gentle and grace-filled with others, I can at times fail to provide natural consequences that would help my kids accept life’s boundaries. Providing consistency and teaching cause-and-effect for my kids’ actions is a high priority for me this year. Knowing in advance that I will struggle to follow through with this helped me realize I need to write out how I will handle certain events, before they happen.
- How will you stay the course?
Pilots know that for every single degree you fly off course, you will miss your target landing spot by 92 feet for every mile you fly. Going off course is dangerous for a flight, and dangerous in our lives as well!
What tools or checkpoints do you need to stay the course, or help you recognize if you’re off course? Accountability buddies? Visual reminders throughout your house or office? Monthly or quarterly reviews or checklists? Is there any deterrents that will challenge your course, that you need to rid yourself of now?
On the plus side, a few intentional actions done consistently over the course of time, can reap huge rewards!
This year I’ve asked my husband to step in with scheduling decisions, to help me recognize when I need to say no to extra activities, in order to maintain focus on our top priorities.
“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
Beginning with the end in mind will help you know the best route to get over those mountains, and end in your target landing!
While my kids’ shiny new shoes are nice, I ultimately look forward to seeing them worn from great journeys and dirtied from intentional life experiences.