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Entries in New Year's (7)

Thursday
Dec292016

Back to the Future: Retreat to Plan the New Year

Kathy Carlton Willis is an encourager to the max! She knows how to motivate women to upgrade their lives. In this New Year’s UPGRADE, she suggests we all go on a “retreat.”

Kathy told me, “As a career coach I often hear the excuse, ‘I’m just too busy.’ I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it. Each person is given the same number of hours in the day.”

I (Dawn) do think there is a “too busy” level for all of us, but I’ve discovered better planning, delegating, and eliminating the non-essential and what God says “has to go” suddenly can free up a lot of time I didn’t know I had! So I am shouting a hearty “Amen” to Kathy’s words.

Kathy continues. . .

Sure, we all have different energy levels and abilities, but I’m positive we have exactly the resources we need to fulfill the purposes God has for each of us.

The next time you’re tempted to offer up the excuse, “I’m just too busy,” instead I challenge you to say what is the real reason: “It’s simply not a priority for me.”

We get to choose what is important in our lives.

One way I adjust my priorities is to have a yearly personal retreat, either at home or a remote location.

A familiar Psalm indicates what happens during a personal retreat.

“He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He  refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23: 2-3 AMP).

Here are some pointers for your retreat:

1. Start and end with God.

Put your agenda aside. Focus on His strengths and skills. Fall in love with Him again. Be wowed by His power and wisdom. Worship Him, not for what He has done for you, but for who He is.

If you find your mind trailing off, use the alphabet to stay fixed on Him. Come up with a word that describes God from every letter in the alphabet.

2. Use a variety of worship techniques.

  • Walk with Him in nature.
  • Take photos of His creation.
  • Sing along to praise music.
  • Dance to the tune.
  • Draw.
  • Invent your own sign-language to symbolize the lyrics.
  • Personalize Scripture.

3. Get filled up.

Surrender your life to God again. 100% God and 0% you.

Once you are filled up and yielded, then you are ready to proceed.

4. Evaluate the year just ending.

  • What surprised you?
  • What exceeded your goals?
  • What derailed or disappointed you?
  • What is still left undone?
  • What desires and direction did God plant in you that indicates the New Year will look different?
  • What was within your control to do that you procrastinated?
  • What was not within your power that changed your plans?

Give the old year to God. Leave it behind without regrets as you move into the New Year.

Clean slate: either a second chance to get your current goals accomplished or brand new goals for a brand new year.

5. Ask God to show you His plans for your New Year.

Don’t merely ask Him to bless your agenda.

Be willing to follow God’s lead wherever it takes you—out of your comfort zone and into the faith-zone.

People ask my secret to getting so much done, and goal-setting is the root of my productivity. It’s not about success as the world sees it, or achievement. I’m focused on being and doing everything God has designed for my life.

Here’s a sample template for my goal-setting session. It varies depending on the year, so feel free to alter it to fit your needs.

  • My spiritual growth goals for 2017 include:
  • My mental/emotional growth goals for 2017 include:
  • My physical goals for 2017 include:
  • I will use my ability of ______ by doing:
  • I will work on a relationship with:
  • Finances will improve when:
  • I will read ___ books.
  • To be healthier, I will:
  • I have a problem procrastinating. This year I will improve in the area of:

Fill out your goal worksheet, then sign it as an indication you will give 100% to God’s agenda.

Does God have a surprise for you in the New Year? Put on your eyes of faith so you can see it when it arrives.

Kathy Carlton Willis shines for God, reflecting His light as a speaker at writer's conferences and women's retreats, and as an author - contributing to three books and writing hundreds of columns and articles online and in print publications. She wrote Grin with Gracewith AMG Publishers and has several books releasing over the next few years. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of depaulus, Pixabay

Thursday
Jan072016

Find Joy in Being Intentional This Year

I first invited author and speaker Kathy Carlton Willis to write for Upgrade when I read about her formula for setting D.R.E.A.M. goals for the New Year. In this New Year's UPGRADE, she shows us another way to move into 2016, by determining to be intentional.

“Do you let life happen to you or do you make life happen?" Kathy says. "If you find your life isn’t changing much from year to year, or that you fall short of your goals, it’s possible you need to adapt a more intentional mindset.

"You can’t just mean well and hope it all turns out okay.”

Kathy had me (Dawn) hooked. I hear that word “intentional” a lot. But what does it really mean to be intentional?

Kathy continues . . .

When we are intentional, we take charge of what we think, choose, say and do. We own it. We don’t blame our circumstances or settle for less because we can’t help our situation.

No matter what challenges God allows in our lives, He also has us here for a purpose. And we can only fulfill that purpose when we operate in His strength and determine not to just float through life.

Living with intention means you are determined. Your decisions are firm and you choose to act on your intentions.

Make sure your intentions aren’t based on self empowerment, but on a determination to be so plugged in to God that you’re ready to follow where He leads and to act on His purpose for your life.

When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:8-11 NLT)

You may think it sounds depressing to live with intention, but according to John 15:11, acting on God’s direction leads to being filled with so much joy it will overflow.

One joy-filled way I remind myself to stay intentional is to sing Christian hymns and songs that reflect my determination to follow God’s directions. Being focused on this intention helps me live wholly for Him. What song comes to your mind?

Here are a few that popped into my head:

  • I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
  • I am Resolved No Longer to Linger
  • I Am Determined

Intentional means you don't wait for things to happen; you make choices to help determine the outcome.

Life becomes “on purpose” instead of “by accident.” Not “I hope to” or “I’m going to try,” but “I will!”

I will be more intentional with my:

  1. Time
  2. Relationships
  3. Goals
  4. Walk with Christ
  5. Priorities
  6. Words
  7. Prayers

Here’s one word of caution when making plans: Make sure they are God’s plans for your life.

It’s not enough to merely ask God to bless your plans. It’s all about following Him, whether it means staying still when you want to move forward, or moving forward when you’d rather stay still.

Keep in mind this principle when it comes to intentional living:

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:14-15 NLT)

How will you determine to be more intentional this year?

Kathy Carlton Willis shines for God, reflecting His light as a speaker at writer's conferences and women's retreats, and as an author - contributing to three books and writing hundreds of columns and articles online and in print publications. She wrote Grin with Grace with AMG Publishers and has several books releasing over the next few years. She and her husband/pastor, Russ, live in Texas.

Graphic adapted, image courtesy of pixabay.com.

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