Christian Living


Need a Life Adjustment?

Here we are, at the very beginning of 2016. It seems as if just yesterday we welcomed in 2015 with enthusiasm and hearts full of hope. We set goals and moved ahead, determined to make it a successful year. Armed with our ‘to do’ lists, we bought memberships to fitness centers and purchased the latest personal organizers. We declared war on clutter and vowed to be more diligent in our time of worship and spiritual focus. We developed a budget to get our ‘financial house’ in order. And, instead of grabbing whatever we could find in the fridge, we turned off the television and gathered around the dining table for a healthy dinner and family connection.

We were off to a great start toward balanced living; but as the year unfolded, the demands of life crept in in to take over our schedules and good intentions. Our focus seemed to be shifting as distractions drew us off course. We grabbed more fast food in between the activities we tried to squeeze into an already-busy schedule and found less time for exercise and spiritual nourishment. Family members passed each other, all going in different directions. Our ‘financial house’ was not quite so orderly and we forgot what that concept of balance means. The ‘want to’s’ were getting lost as the ‘have to’s’ took over.

When Life’s Demands Press In

Do you notice how often we wake up thinking about what we need to do that day? Oh, I’m not implying that goals are wrong. It’s important to have a focus, a target to set our sites on as we navigate through the challenges of life. Goals provide us with a sense of direction and purpose, and sometimes a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves.

It just seems as though we're driven so much by what we must do, what is expected of us. We may begin the year, excited about the goals we want to achieve and the life we want to build; however, if we’re not mindful, that excitement can give way to the stress that comes from feeling pressured to accomplish everything we envision. Not to mention the anxiety that creeps in as our mind struggles, “How am I going to get it all done?” That is especially true if we set unreasonable goals or don’t keep a sense of balance in place that considers our physical and emotional well-being as well as our to-do list. Even good things can become stressful. If we’re not careful, we’ll move through our days either (1) running as fast as we can to accomplish everything; (2) going in circles, without a clear sense of direction; (3) going through the motions yet finding little pleasure; or (3) missing out on opportunities to relax and enjoy the blessings of life. We may find ourselves overloaded, overworked, overwhelmed, and burned out - not moving at all.

That pressure and stress, if unaddressed, can lead to anxiety, discouragement, irritability, depression, even to physical problems. So, what do we sometimes do? We push harder, bringing even more stress. Or, we give up and don’t accomplish anything, losing sight of those things of value in our lives, including our health and well-being. Our relationships may suffer as well.

Interestingly, if I ask someone what they want to do, not what they need to do but what they really want to do, there is often silence. “Hmmm, what do I want to do?” “Yes.  If you had your life to live as you wish, if you could spend time doing what you really want to do, those things of greatest value to you, what would you do? How are you honoring both your passion and your priorities?”

If I asked you that question just now, how would you answer?

Living Intentionally

Spend time with people who sense they are nearing the end of their life’s journey and you may hear them recount, “If I had my life to live over I would…” Most often, they caution us to avoid letting the demands of life keep us from experiencing the joys of life. They challenge us to assess our priorities and consider what we believe God desires for us to accomplish with our lives, and then carefully, prayerfully, choose activities that fit our vision. They encourage us to take a balanced approach to life.

Many of you are facing uncertainties about your future as you confront diseases that can cut life short. Consequently, you are determined to value each moment and make each day count. You cherish the present and find joy in even the smallest of blessings that come your way. You make certain you speak your mind. You are intent on bringing a spirit of peace to your relationships and you take time to pass along a sense of your heritage to those who will follow in your steps. You work hard on the tasks you deem important, yet you also stop to smell the roses. You take a deep breath and soak up the sunshine. You share stories and pass along life lessons you’ve learned. You laugh. You seize each moment and value it as a gift. What a powerful example you set of the importance of making time for the real priorities in life as you carefully choose how you will live each day to the fullest.

Perhaps each of us need to pause in the midst of our busy, demanding lives, for a mid-year review and ask ourselves, “What do I want to accomplish with my life? How does God want me to manage my time and also take care of myself? When I come to the end of my journey, what do I want to say about my approach to this time in my life?”

Taking Your Personal Inventory

Carefully consider these questions and see if there are any adjustments you want to make as you embark upon this new year.

(1) What do you envision overall for your life? What do you want to “be?” Now, is what you’re “doing” bringing that vision to light or hiding it in the dark?

(2) Have you set reasonable goals to reflect that sense of purpose? Are they attainable for you at this point in the year? Are they consistent with your personal values and priorities?  Do you believe you can reach them? 

(3) Are you on course to accomplish your goals? If not, what adjustments will you make?

(4) Are there obstacles impeding your progress? What will you do to clear the path?

(5) Do you need to address any physical, emotional or spiritual concerns to improve your health and bring renewed energy?

(6) What support resources will you turn to for encouragement and accountability as you move forward through this year, committed to building the life you envision?

When you look back on these days, years from now, will you be pleased with how you approached life and how you managed your time, your energy and the opportunities before you? No, you can’t live your life over; however, today is a new day, offering the opportunity for a fresh start toward a better tomorrow. What can you do - what will you do – throughout the rest of this year to live your best life, the life God designed uniquely for you?

Copyright © Nancy Williams. Used by permission.

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