It’s a new year.
Maybe you are thinking about this new year, praying and brainstorming and dreaming about some aspect of your life. Me, too! Every year I put aside time to pray and brainstorm about what is ahead. There are a lot of things we can do. A lot of them are good things. But one thing that can cause frustration is when we get overwhelmed, or we feel a little stuck, or we want to do something new but can’t figure out how. I’ve been in this process the past few days, and I’d love to share with you what I’ve been doing, but also to hear what this new year looks like for you.
Create a specific time
As you begin, put a time and a day on the calendar. Maybe it’s one hour. Maybe it’s a half day. This might be something you do with a loved one, or just by yourself. Putting aside time and making it sacred (not letting small things bump it to next week, and then the next) doesn’t just show you that this is important; it signals to others who love and support you that it’s important too.
Invite God into that time
This is a partnership with your Heavenly Father. It’s not about an agenda, or how much you want to achieve. It’s not a money issue. It’s asking God what he wants for you. He isn’t looking at any one else’s goals or dreams or life. He’s not measuring success in the same way they are on Instagram. He knows you. He knows the plans he has for you.
One question my husband, Richard, asks each morning is, “What are you and I going to do today, God?” I love this! It’s the heart of this time with God as well. You are asking him to show you what he is inviting you to do in this new year.
What are you and I going to do this year, Lord?
List everything that is currently on your plate
It’s easy to underestimate what we are doing. We can feel overextended and blame a lack of energy, or not enough time, or “maybe we should be doing this better,” but many of us just add one more thing, and then another, without taking stock of what we are actually doing and how much time, energy, and investment that takes. Once you list those things, estimate the time you dedicate to each.
There are several areas we can explore. This may be a mix of real life, ministry, learning, community, and passionate pursuits. For me, this was just about ministry. It doesn’t mean I won’t do this with those other areas, but this is where I felt overwhelm and also the Holy Spirit asking me to reassess.
Ask 4 questions
There are 4 questions you’ll ask. Again, prayerfully ask God to join you in this part of the process. The questions are:
What will I keep doing?
What will I increase or add?
Where will I slow down?
What will I stop doing?
What will I keep doing? Begin with those things that you know you are supposed to be doing.
What will I increase or add? Is there something new you sense God asking you to do? Is there a dream you’ve delayed, but it’s not gone away and now is the time? Is there something you’ve been doing and you feel the role is expanding? As you write down this new thing, add the time you believe you’ll spend on this. Be as realistic as you can.
I’m adding something to my plate my this year. It’s a collaboration with a really good friend, and I can’t wait to tell you more later. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but now is the right time.
What will I slow down? This is where we get in over our head. We hold on tightly to things that we’ve done for a long time. Maybe we feel no one else can do it like we can (they can). Maybe it’s so familiar that it’s hard to let go. Maybe it’s part our identity and letting go feels hard (that’s normal). But what will you still do, but give less of yourself to? It may be that you begin to release, or slow down the pace, or take less of a role. . .
As I added the new collaboration to my plate, I had to spend a lot of time on this question. In order to add something, I needed to either slow down (give less of myself to it) or completely stop something else. I will be slowing down two things that have had a primary role. What does that look like? One, I’ll play a lesser role. For another, I’ll do it less often. Instead of weekly, it will be monthly.
What might slowing down look like for you?
What will I stop? We all have seasons and rarely do we do something for a lifetime, other than love our people. Giving ourselves permission to stop doing something, celebrate it, and cheer on others who will take up that mantle is a healthy way to let go. What might that look like for you?
I took one thing completely off my plate. It is a little hard to let it go, and I needed to come up with a plan, but it was the right move. Rather than grieve, I took a moment and celebrated the time I got to invest in it, and the fruit that came from it.
I can’t wait to hear what you have to share and what 2024 looks like for you!
Some resources for you as you plan, pray, and dream
Are you listening to the Prayer Starters podcast? This was a definite “keep” for me. I’d love to invite you to join me 5 days a week for a 3-minute prayer podcast. Listen to Prayer Starters on your favorite podcast platform or at KLRC.com. Click here to find all the ways to listen.
More Than Small Talk podcast — This was another definite “keep” for me. I get to go deep with Holley Gerth and Jennifer Watson once a week on this beautiful podcast, and our favorite thing is that you join us in the conversation. Here are two recent episodes that might help as you plan, pray, brainstorm, and dream for 2024.