// by Sherri Seligson //

Most people look forward to the holiday season. They look forward to the break from work, school, and regular activities. And I get that. For me, though, I only love part of this time of year. I really enjoy the Advent season, Christmas celebrations, and time with family, but there is always something looming.

It seems like every year I face the dreaded “middle week” between Christmas and New Year’s Day. What I mean is that we have just come off of the busy Christmas season with presents, parties, decorations, and fun food, and we are now faced with the new year – that invisible barrier that brings with it anxiety-filled obligations of resolutions, organization, word-of-the-year, and other things that can bring overwhelm.

Now, I get it. A new year can be kind of a “do-over” for many of us. It is like a much bigger Monday.

I will have cake this weekend, but my diet starts on Monday.

I don’t want to deal with my emails right now, but I will get back to everyone on Monday.

We can eat out Friday, but I will pick up groceries and start cooking healthful meals again on Monday.

The new year presents itself as one great, big Monday. What goals are facing me this year? What word do I want? What do I want to change about myself?

Are you feeling like this?

Let me stop you right there. Let’s change our perspective on New Year’s goals. Why? Well, first, we often start the year off with a great resolve, working hard to make things happen or focusing our energies on areas we have previously let slide. But then, “life” starts to happen. One of the kids might get sick. Or the car breaks down and forces us to adjust our schedule (and maybe our budget). Our kids’ extracurricular activities start back up again and we lose our routine.

When something like that happens, we look at our goals or resolutions and think we have failed. It’s a terrible annual cycle. Set a goal, get interrupted by (insert life event), and eventually feel like a failure. It is so common that many companies build entire marketing campaigns on this. Just notice how many diet programs start to advertise at the beginning of the year. Then pay attention to how many of them re-advertise in greater quantities in March or April. They realize that a resolution such as getting fit can easily get interrupted, and they are banking on that.

So am I saying we shouldn’t have goals? Of course not.

It is actually biblical for us to plan our days. Luke 14:28 says, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”

Our days will go more smoothly and with greater peace if we plan. But as the verse says, it includes counting the cost. There will be great benefits, but it will require sacrifice, and there will likely be setbacks.

As anything we do in life, goals are a marathon, not a sprint. Marathons take time and are hard. But the rewards are great. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”

The word “diligence” is an important one. Just like we shouldn’t make goals that are not realistic (I want to make a million dollars by next December), we shouldn’t make goals hastily. We need to understand that a goal is a continual process.

One continual goal I have is to know Jesus more deeply. So I try to have regular quiet times and I work to intentionally pray. However I realize I have character flaws that work against that goal, such as laziness (I’m too tired to add one more thing to my day), lack of diligence (I will do it later on), selfishness (What about “Me” time?). If that isn’t a recipe for failure, I don’t know what is!

But God is an integral part of this process. You see, if our desires are lined up with God’s desires for us, then we can be assured he will continue to come alongside us to transform us into his image.

2 Cor. 3:18 “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

That means if I seek God’s plans first and regularly, then my plans will coincide with his. Maybe he doesn’t want me to be a millionaire, but he likely wants me to be a good steward of the body he has given me – so OK, I will keep those fitness goals in place! And I know he will be there to help me on that marathon journey.

He also wants me to have a closer relationship with him. So he will help me through the character challenges I face as I strive for richer quiet time. The journey will vary between straight paths, uphills, obstacles, and downhills. But God will be there every step of the way.

If you desire to set goals this year, then, first seek God’s plans for you. Prayerfully align your hopes, goals, and desires with God’s great truths. He will be there for you – when you are resolved and when you are frustrated; when you are excited and when you are heartbroken, when you are empowered and when you are anxious. Just keep moving one step in front of the other as he works in you and through you to refine you. He will not leave you throughout the marathon of meeting your goals. That way, what might seem like any backwards movement is actually all part of God’s forward plan for you!

It isn’t a journey you take alone.

It doesn’t have to look perfect all the time.

And it doesn’t have to start on a Monday.

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Sherri Seligson is a 21-year veteran homeschool mom and marine biologist. She has authored Apologia’s Exploring Creation Science Curriculum, Instructional Science Video Series, and many other publications. An international conference speaker, Sherri encourages moms and teaches families the value of studying God’s creation. You can connect with Sherri at www.sherriseligson.com.