The Second Thing You Should Do in 2012

Item no. 81 on my Bucket List...

On Monday, I blogged about taking time out to reflect on the year gone past, and to start 2012 by asking the right questions. Today, I will share with you the second thing I think you should do as you launch into the new year:

Make a plan.

That’s it. Simple. Have a plan, and start working the plan. Of course, there are many ways to go about doing this, but here is my own simple 3-step process:

1) Start by creating a “Life Plan”

I first learnt about life planning many years ago from Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and as I have used the process in some shape or form ever since, it has made all the difference.

So, why do you need a life plan? Three reasons:

  1. It will give you clarity about where your life is headed.
  2. It will keep you in balance when things get crazy.
  3. It will give you peace of mind, knowing you are are addressing those aspects of your life that matter most.

Sadly however, very few people I’ve met have a plan for their life. They plan their career, their wedding, even their holidays. But it never occurs to them to plan their life.

As Michael Hyatt writes, “Most are passive spectators, watching their lives unfold, one day at a time. They are reactive rather than proactive. I believe that this is why so many people end up discouraged, disillusioned, and wondering what went wrong. They arrived at the wrong destination.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can live your life on purpose by creating your own personal life plan. If you have no idea what a life plan is, or where to start, check out these links:

Creating a Personal Life Plan & 7 Reasons Why You Need A Written Life Plan

2) Write Your Bucket List

When I was in Grade 8, my Life-Skills teacher told the class to write a list of 101 Things To Do Before You Die, and that’s exactly what I did. Today, 17 years later (yikes!), I still have that original list. If you’re interested check it out here.

To date I have completed 56 of the 101 items on my bucket list, which has been no easy feat.

Over the years this list has stopped me from becoming passive, apathetic or lazy. It has inspired me to take risks, step out of my comfort zone, and pursue adventures and challenges I could have easily made excuses for. Not only that, but is has been a whole lot of fun! Sometimes I think we take ourselves and life  too seriously, and having a few big-hairy-audacious-goals in front of you forces you to let loose and live a little.

So, what’s on your bucket list? And what are you waiting for?

3) Write Down Your Annual Goals

The last step is to look at the year ahead and, with your Life Plan and your Bucket List in hand, to write down a short list of goals, wishes, and dreams for 2012. Don’t overshoot – everything on the list must be achievable within the year – but also be bold and don’t sell yourself short.

My annual goals list usually has between 15 and 25 goals on it, and I try to include a few Bucket List items in there every year. It includes financial goals, goals for my marriage and my relationships, goals for my health and fitness, work goals, fun goals, and goals for my spiritual growth.

Finally, make sure you display your Annual Goals List somewhere where you’re likely to see it everyday. Mine is stuck up on the inside of my cupboard, as a daily reminder to me.

While steps 1 and 2 do take some time (I suggest trying to get away for an entire day), it is well worth the effort. Once you have your Life Plan and Bucket List in place, it becomes a quick and easy process of reviewing them every year, and writing down your annual goals. 

Bottom line is this: I want to be better in January 2013 than I was January 2012. And to do this, I believe I need a plan. And so do you.

Inception Part 1: Are Your Thoughts Defining You or Destroying You?

An idea is a powerful thing. One idea planted deep inside of you can alter the course of your life…

Every year my church does a series called “God in the Movies”, where we look for elements of truth – God’s truth – in the stories around us. This year I got to preach on one of my favourite films of all time – INCEPTION.

And one of the most powerful lines of the film goes like this: “Ideas are resilient – highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold in the brain it is almost impossible to eradicate. A person can cover it up, ignore it – but it stays there. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – can grow to either define you or destroy you!”

And the truth is many of us believe lies and thoughts about ourselves and about God that will ultimately destroy us. Becaue how we think and what we believe will always shape how we act and how we live. Every time.

And so…

  • If we believe that when every time something bad happens to us, it’s because God is punishing us – then we will never learn to trust God has our father.
  • If we believe that we have to have answers to every question and understand everything about God, that only when there is no more mystery left, can we put our trust in Him, then we will never ever find faith and peace.
  • If we believe that God heals all illnesses, then we will live with a deep-seated sense of disappointment with God when he lets us down.
  • If we believe that we get to heaven based on our own merit, then we will spend our life running around trying to figure out how much is enough, and I believe we will be deeply disappointed at the end of our life when we realise it was never about what we do, but rather what Christ has done for us.
  • And if we believe that there are things in our lives that we have done that are just too terrible, that God could never ever forgive us, then we will never find forgiveness and we will live in a constant state of guilt.

Every time we choose to ignore the truth about who God is or who He says we are – we pay a price. 

So what lies are you believing that are holding you back and keeping you captive?