As the new year begins, I like to reflect on the last twelve months as I set goals for the future. For the past several years, I’ve chosen a “word of the year” focus. I filter all of my goals through that word focus. This method works best for me because I tend to overthink.
I fell short on many of my 2023 goals and not because I’m vertically challenged. My word focus was Leadership. I am pleased with all I learned and the ways I grew as a leader. Where I fell short had to do with where my leadership ends and a response must follow. You know the expression, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” I can do everything “right” as a leader but at some point, those being led must make a choice.
As is often the case with my word choices, God does things I don’t expect to challenge me in my word focus. This year was no different. Working in our congregation comes easily for me especially when I’m working with others. This year, one of my leadership partners had a terrible accident at the beginning of the year. Though her recovery has been amazing, there were several challenging months. God stretched me through that experience.
For 2024, I’m continuing to stretch my leadership with the word Harvest. The outcome of the harvest has a great deal to do with the work of the farmer. The soil must be made ready, seeds planted and watered, and weeds pulled. Farmers cannot control the elements, but they can control their response. If it’s not raining enough, water more. If the wind is causing the plant to uproot, put a cage around it and anchor it better. At the end of the season, gather in the harvest.
What does Harvest look like outside of gardening?
1. Get the soil ready: Make your goals. Create an action plan for those goals. Get your mindset ready to achieve!
2. Plant the seeds: Take the first step in your action plan.
3. Tend the seeds: Keep going. Even when the weeds threaten, the weather is uncooperative, or you just don’t wanna!
4. Prune the plants: Evaluate what’s working. Tweak your plan as needed throughout the year. Celebrate the victories in each step. Change what isn’t working.
5. Reap a Harvest: Experience the rewards of achieving your goals. Celebrate!
Best of all, you can apply this idea no matter what goals you set. Any problem you want to solve starts by acknowledging the issues. For example, like many Americans, I want to get healthier in 2024. The measurable outcome is weight loss, but the steps are in lifestyle changes. I started before January 1 with some of these changes and will add one new change at a time. Toward the end of October, I quit drinking Dr. Pepper. Maybe at some point, I will be able to have one occasionally, but spending money on one every day was not a good thing for either the bank account or my health. As a result, I’ve been getting more of my water intake most days. Best of all, the rest of the family has been on board with this change (though some members have “cheated” at times). In the last week of the year, I decided to switch my flavored creamer for heavy cream, eliminating empty sugary calories. This week’s plan is to add more activity to my daily routine. Every big endeavor starts with small changes.
One of the second biggest resolutions has to do with financial goals. Whether it’s saving more money (spending less) or getting out of debt, it starts with one action at a time. Dave Ramsey coined the phrase “debt snowball” where you pay off one debt at a time. When you pay off one thing, add that payment to the minimum of the next debt, and so on. The same amount of money leaves your account until all debts are paid. Using any extras like tax refunds to pay down debt is one of our favorite ways to get rid of debt. However, this only works if you stop building debt and start adding savings.
Aside from these, my biggest goals in 2024 have to do with building my small business. To do this, I have to continue to offer excellent customer care, while also sharing the opportunities my business offers. I enjoy talking to people, but sometimes asking for a sale or recruiting doesn’t come as easily.
Whatever your goals may be, I pray that God blesses you in 2024. If you do the one-word challenge, I’d love for you to share your word!