The Next Step for the New Year
The new year is off to a great start. Your new planner arrived. You’ve decluttered your office, taken time to reflect on the past year, and you’re ready to start planning for 2021. Or at least you thought you were ready.
You sat down at your desk or writing table prepared to set some New Year’s resolutions and create a list of long- and short-term goals. Or maybe your planning was as simple as updating your bucket list. Whatever your plans for goal setting, if you’re not sure of your next step, it’s easy to get sidetracked. I mean, let’s be honest, making a list is motivating and exciting. It’s a new start to a new year, and there are so many opportunities available, so where do we start? What’s our next step, and how can we be confident that our decision is the right decision?
As you seek direction and clarity, you turn to family, friends, and colleagues for their advice. They are more than happy to announce their resolutions and goals for the new year while offering their opinions on your goals. From one goal-getter gal to another, it’s proven that if you seek the views of others long enough, you will eventually hear what you wish to hear. You then feel confident you are heading in the right direction, making the right decisions based on the advice and recommendations of those around you. You believe that you have greatly improved the probability of your goal success due to your diligence. But will it?
As we continue our focus on goal setting for the new year this week, we’re going to jump right into a few tips to ensure your next steps will lead you to a successful year. Are you ready?
Own Your Story
Family, friends, and colleagues may have the best intentions for your success, but it is significant for you to own your story. Emulating or replicating someone else’s journey that you admire is not owning your story. Although you may feel no harm done, you must recognize that the goals you set are leading you to YOUR vision for YOUR life – the story YOU want to tell, the legacy YOU would like to leave. Do you want your story to be based on someone else’s life or expectations? God gives each of us gifts and talents to use, so don’t allow what others are doing to distract you from your purpose. Your resolutions are yours alone. If the goal does not support your journey, the story you wish to tell, then perhaps it (the goal) is not your next step.
As you plan your next step, I encourage you to surrender your journey to God. Allow Him to lead you. And, if you reach out to trusted family and friends for advice, make sure what you are hearing aligns with God’s Word. It is essential to your future to spend time reading and praying through the scriptures to ensure you are influenced by God’s Word and not the world. If you need a bit more help with this, I share steps to Fulfilling Your God-Given Goals in a prior post. Most importantly, I want to inspire you to seek God and allow Him to guide you. How else will you know if what you decide upon is the next right step for your journey?
What story do you want to tell? Take time to write out the desires of your heart and seek God in prayer. What is He showing you? What is He telling you?
“May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans.” Psalm 20:4 AMP
Looking Ahead with Anticipation
In last week’s post, New Beginnings, we talked about taking the next step in faith. I know from experience taking the next step can be quite frightening. Doubt may fill our minds with several “what if” scenarios. We then find ourselves turning to the noise of the world to help us with our decision, and when we do, we are no longer relying on God’s strength but the ways of the world. Our excitement wains, and we are no longer enthusiastic about our journey. In fact, we are overwhelmed by just thinking about the next step. Why? Because we have taken our eyes off God and placed our trust on the things of this earth.
I know because I’ve been there and done that. And to be completely honest with you, I still tend to look for influences around me and not above me when in doubt. Unfortunately, my insecurities may lead me to place my trust in my own strength and the world and not in the strength of God. In these times, I remind myself – when I am weak, He is strong. And, my friends, I can genuinely share that my strength comes from the Lord. There is nothing here on earth that gives me strength. My strength comes from God. So, I ask you, where are you getting your strength?
If you are spending time reading your Bible, you will know where your strength comes from, just like Abraham, Esther, David, and Paul. Each of these amazing individuals overcame adversity and carried out God’s plans because they were faithful. They were not perfect. They were not strong in their own right. They were imperfect people called by God to step out in faith and fulfill the calling God placed upon them. Abraham was called to leave all he had and step into the unknown. Esther boldly stepped up to be the voice of her people. David loved the Lord, and because of his repentance, God used him to further His kingdom. And Paul, once known for his persecution of believers, was renewed through his love for Christ and gave his life to sharing the gospel.
In each of these stories, Abraham, Esther, David, and Paul looked ahead with anticipation and dedicated their lives to follow Christ. They successfully carried out their calling by placing their trust in God, knowing God would equip them for the journey.
Where are you placing your trust? What or who are you focusing on? I encourage you to read these courageous people’s stories and seek God’s direction on how He is calling you to serve. Look ahead with excitement as to where He is leading you.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; Trust in Him also, and He will do it.” Psalm 37:4-5 AMP
The Next Step is found in the Counsel of God
How can you be sure of your next step? How will you know if the steps you are taking are the right decision? If I were sitting with you face to face, I would ask you, who are you relying on for each step of your journey? Who are you allowing to speak into you?
I recently had a wonderful conversation with a friend that I love to visit because our conversations always revolve around God. In our last meet up, I shared the importance of allowing others to speak to us but not always into us. You’ve most likely heard me share about the importance of this concept. For example, if a person is offering me advice or their opinion on a matter. I will listen. But, if the values and beliefs of the person speaking to me do not align with God’s Word, then I will listen, but I will not allow the words of this person to speak into me.
To use a visual, think of the plexiglass barriers used in public spaces for precautionary measures against COVID. The barriers protect us from the potential spread of COVID by blocking any unwelcomed droplets (simple definition). So, if someone is offering their opinion on a matter, I need to determine the source. Is this person a believer, and what are their intentions? If I believe the person’s values or beliefs are not aligned with God, I will hear what they are saying, but I have the “plexiglass” barrier in place to prevent the person’s views from being planted into my thoughts. In other words, I am not going to take the counsel of this person as truth if it does not line up with God’s Word. My direction comes from God, the one true source.
As you prepare for your next step, I urge you to spend time in God’s Word and listen to His counsel. Be still and wait expectantly for Him to guide you. Ask God what story does He want you to tell? What direction does He want you to take? The answer may not be what you expect, nor may it be immediate. The direction God is leading you may not make any sense to you, which is why you will need to place your full trust and confidence in God step by step, day by day. Seek His counsel, and He will show you the way – the next step for the new year!
“The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts and plans of His heart through all generations.” Psalm 33:11 AMP
Keep on shining!