Habakkuk 2:2 And the Lord answered me, “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” Some people don’t think of themselves as goal oriented but every person I’ve ever met and chatted to about their life has some sort of goal or desire for their lives lurking somewhere in their minds and hearts. One of the things I do daily is to look at and pray into my goals for my life. I’ve researched books and asked successful people what the best approach to goal setting is and basically, it all boils down to, KEEP IT SIMPLE. Too many goals become overwhelming to your mind and your schedule. Narrow your goals to no more than 10 and try to write and articulate those goals into the most concise and precise way possible. There should be no extra fluff in your wording. Make your goals concrete, defined and measurable. Then everyday I encourage you to read over your goals, declare them out loud and pray into them. If they are important to you, you should be thinking about them and asking God for help to fulfill them. As you repeat this process daily, your mind will be filled with strategies to help you accomplish your goals and you will find unusual favor come your way to help you fulfill those goals that are truly ordered by the Lord. Don’t be afraid to adjust your goals, as you feel led to. You’re not a slave to your goals, they are meant to serve you and help you get to where God has called you to go. So, what are your goals?
I was speaking to Steve Addison last week and he feels that the word ‘vision’ has been over-used and that it doesn’t mean a whole lot anymore. He prefers to use the word ‘Need’ and suggests that when God gets a hold of a leader, he re-defines their character with his character and opens their eyes to a particular need and gives that leader energy and ideas to resolve the need. Not bad at all, I like!
Whether you call it a need, or a big cause or the big idea, I don’t care. What I care about is that you connect your big vision to your daily schedule = Diary! If you don’t, you’ll be like me sometimes and get totally frustrated with feelings of not accomplishing what God put me here on the planet to do. Can you identify with this?
When I have felt frustrated for longer than a few days, I ask myself, why? Invariably, it generally comes down to a disconnection between the great cause God’s put in my heart and my own daily schedule. It’s really simple, if you want to see your vision come to pass and avoid feeling like you are wasting your time, then you need to know what jump starts your heart and you need to actively schedule the right activities in your diary around the big idea.
One of the best bits of advice from all the books on time management I’ve read is simply this, “Organize and Execute around your priorities”.
When I feel frustrated with vision output vs time spent I return to the prayer closet and ask God to speak to me about what he has called me to do and what his vision for my life’s work is. When I do this, he always, always, always says the same things but the whole process distills life into its rawest and simplest form. I’ve found that after 2-4 weeks of living post this encounter, life gets complicated in the minutia and demands and expectations of others. I have a real problem with people approval and I have OCD expectations of myself. This makes for an intense feeling of drivenness that I like when sanctified but I hate when not. We are to love people but worship God, not people. We are to love results but worship God, not results.
Your diary should reflect the vision you are seeking to fulfill. If it doesn’t, your kidding yourself. The big rock activities of your week should be spent on the big rocks of your vision. My vision for Activate Church is:
- Disciple thousands of people
- Transform the community we are apart of
- Plant churches across the globe
- Produce resources to help people grow in their ministry
While there are things I do that don’t fit into anyone of these big rock categories, If I don’t get intentional about aligning my diary with these goals, I get frustrated and my family feels like they’re living with a bear who has a sore head. You get the idea? Make it work.
Every now and then I get totally frustrated with the lack of certain results and outcomes in my life. I tend to be a little OCD about getting things done and in a particular way. I have learnt that while my first fleshly instinct would be to blame someone and look for the fault on their behalf, I have to be honest and acknowledge that most of the time the central issue is me and my personal lack of organization.
I am a particularly organized person (If I don’t say so myself… haha) but I generally attempt to do too much and squeeze that little extra into my already overcrowded schedule. In the past when I would struggle with punctuality, it wasn’t because I was lazy, it was because I was attempting to complete, ‘just one more thing’ in my schedule that I simply didn’t have time for (can anyone else identify?).
I have learnt that if I really want to grow in a particular area of my life, I must get more organized (I know in Australian English ‘organize’ is spelt with an ‘S’ but I like the way the Americans spell it). Personal organization and self-leadership is a fundamental backbone of personal growth and development. You can’t go higher in God, work or life if you don’t commit yourself to getting more organized.
Here are some basic tips I have learnt to getting more organized:
- Know what God has called you to do – Being clear on your life calling and purpose helps to eliminate wasted time and energy. Knowing what God has called you to do helps you to know what to say yes too and what to say no too. While we are always growing in our understanding of God’s call on our lives, we need to establish some clarity and work towards fulfilling it. The earlier, the better… but it’s never too late.
- Structure your schedule around your physical and emotional energy peaks throughout the day – While this is not always practical or even totally realistic, if you have the flexibility to make this happen in your schedule, observe for a week your energy peaks and lows and schedule your most important assignments, meetings or tasks in the appropriate time of day.
- Buy an iPad 2 – I have found this little instrument an absolute master-piece of tech-engineering that helps me to no end with my personal organization. Not only do I have a daily, weekly, monthly and annual outlook on my calendar but I have access to various apps (Awesome Notes)that make taking notes, referencing work related materials and recording important things much easier. All that I need is in one place, it’s mobile, super-fast and can be accessed at the click of a button. Definitely worth the investment.
- Have a weekly planning meeting once a week – I meet with my wife every Monday night and quickly go over our plans for the week. It helps keep each other in the loop on what’s coming up and also helps us our communication flow during the week. We also look ahead in the month and plan future activities including holidays and family events that need to be included in the schedule.
- Look over your schedule the night before – Don’t wake up and wonder ‘Oh what do I have on today?’ Know what you have on because your brain has already made a mental note, the night before. Know what’s going on and don’t be wondering what just happened.
- Have a specific place for everything – The simple way to avoid leaving things around the place is have a place for everything. Be it clothes, shoes, bills, administration tools, books, food, sports equipment, CD’s, DVD’s, etc… Know where things belong and where to put things after you have finished using them. I don’t lose my keys at least when I am at home because I always put my keys, phone and wallet on the front bench as I walk into the house (If they do go missing, I know that some cheeky little monkeys are up to something…).
- Chunk – Carve out blocks of time to concentrate on specific and important tasks. Don’t do a task in dribs and drabs. Make time and focus your energy, resources and abilities on completing the task.
- Focus, Focus, Focus – They key to great performance in something is complete focus and concentration. This comes naturally to me, like a sixth sense, which sometimes irritates my wife to no end but is able to be developed by anyone who is desperate enough. Golf is a great game to teach you focus, because if you don’t focus, you won’t be playing golf for much longer… it’s too frustrating.
- Plan, Plan and then Plan some more – The key to great organization is planning. I plan my preaching 12-18 months ahead. I plan holidays 12 months ahead. I’m getting better at planning my financial budget than I used to.
- Develop an action orientation – Make things happen by getting actively involved in the process of life. Don’t be passive and watch life pass you by, get involved. The world waits for no-one. If you want something, you’ve got to go and get it.
- Get fit – Great fitness enables you to do more, be more and live more. When your physical body breaks down, everything in your life just stops because you need time to recover. The fitter and healthier you are the more alert, energized and organized you will be.
- Develop systems for doing routine tasks – For example, I don’t get to watch the news every night to keep abreast of what’s happening in the world but every morning after my devotions, I’ll use my iPad 2 (Gotta get one) and access a top News website to get a big picture scan of the key news items for that day. My job requires me to be informed of what is going on in the world around me and this little 5 min exercise helps keep be informed and engaged.
- Prioritize your BIG Rocks – Date night with my wife is a big rock that I have in my diary weekly. My devotions and preaching study time is a big rock that goes into my diary. Meetings with key people need to be prioritized in your diary. There will always be more work, more people and more opportunities to fill in the details of life but you are responsible for what’s most important.