‘The quietest morning of the year.
Humanity lying asleep, recovering from a night of merriment or misery,
Dreaming of the past and possible futures.
Finally submitting to the forces of nature and allowing rest.
Excited or maybe afraid for the new year to come.
Yet the outgoing tide of 2019
And the incoming of 2020
has cleared the beach
giving us a new canvas
No feet, small or great, wise or foolish have ever walked this way before.
We are the first.
What lead will we give?
What footsteps will we impress in untouched sand?
When you look back after 366 days of walking,
What do you want to see imprinted in the sand behind you?’
I wrote this on New year’s day 2020 and now as I write and reflect on the outgoing tide of 2020, I ask myself the question posed, “When I look back after 366 days of walking, what do I see on the sand imprinted behind me?”
None of us could have even dreamed of what the painted canvas of 2020 would look like. Most people, would say it's full of greys and browns and dark, dreary colours. Up until Corona Virus pulled goals and dreams away from our present reality, the majority of us could still make at least one year, if not 5 year plans. Now, many of us feel frazzled and rattled and unsure. So what can we do to realign our hearts and minds? How do we notice the glimmers of light and the yellows, bright blues, pinks and purples? Most importantly how can we unfurl our clenched fists and tired hearts and dream again?
Setting goals is a big part of preparing for tomorrow. How we can live today, in an even more changing and unpredictable world, like we can have our tomorrow? We need to be deliberate in keeping our focus on Jesus and continually entrust our lives, dreams and cares to him.
We need to ensure that we keep hope alive and as Psalmist says, in Psalm 71 vs 14-15, “But I will keep hope alive and my praise for you will grow exponentially. I will bear witness to your merciful acts, throughout the day I will speak of all the ways you deliver, although, I admit, I do not know the entirety of either, I will come with stories of your great acts, my Lord, the eternal.”
We can begin to do as the Psalmists suggests by taking a moment and looking back over 2020. If you have an Instagram account, I find it amazing to look back on photos I have taken and I have been awed about how much good there was in 2020. Some really simple things and some shinier things. Remembering God’s great and small acts towards us builds our faith and gratitude. I don’t believe we can effectively set goals apart from those two powerful words.
The words “micro-steps” and “micro - resilience” have come to the forefront in this tumultuous 2020. Ask yourself this, “What is the biggest small step you can take right now in working towards any goal you have.” It sounds counter intuitive doesn’t it? We aren’t raised to think of small steps, we are raised to think of taking the biggest step possible. But bear with me and give it a try.
Here’s an example: say you want to get fit, the biggest small step you can take towards fulfilling this, it so stretch for 1 minute a day. Sounds pointless, doesn’t it, but that’s 7 mins a week, 28 mins a month. And suddenly you will start feeling the benefits.
Don’t discard the small beginnings and don’t under rate the power of consistently showing up.
If you want that big promotion but you constantly have a muggy head so you can’t focus properly when your boss is giving you instructions for a big project, then the biggest small step you could take right now is to start drinking more water to get rid of the brain fuzz.
When we take micro-steps we feel empowered and this goes a long way to building long-term resilience.
It’s not only about setting serious goals, goal setting should also be about including more things in your life that feed your soul and bring you joy. God is a creator God and we are created in His image, therefore we can be sure that each of us have an element of creativity inside us that needs to be expressed. Psychologists define depression as the “inability to experience positive emotions”. Finding a regular creative outlet can protect you from being in this difficult place. Creativity can be used as a tool, alongside professional counselling to help you restore your soul if you are in a state of depression.” When we have a lot of responsibility, housework, raising children, earning something for the family or just trying to build an independent future so you can move out of your parent’s home we tend to side line creativity and end up using every spare minute trying every side hustle to make ends meet. In this area in particular micro-steps can make a tremendous difference to your overall happiness and joyfulness, building a more resilient you, who has a greater ability to say yes to God and to start to dream and set goals again.
Here’s an example: if you love reading, but can never find time to settle with a book on the couch for a couple of hours, then read a page here and there … it may take you months, but you will be carving out time for restoring your soul and this is an essential part of goal setting.
We all know Mark 8 vs 36, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” Creativity is a place where we can restore our souls and prevent the destruction of burnout.
So my tips for goal setting are:
1. Reflect on the new year as a blank canvas.
2. Control what you can by setting micro-step goals.
3. Include some time for creativity to refuel or restore your soul.
Know that God is always at work, to will and to work His good pleasure in you. Keep your hope alive and let your praise of Him grow exponentially into 2021 and beyond.
Via Fick is a lover of God before anything else. She is married to her best friend Quintin and a mother to three beautiful girls, aged 14, 12, 11. An educator, lover of English Lit and writer of poetry.
She is the founder of Thrive Zim Education. She was inspired by the need for primarily teachers, but really for all of us to be able to thrive in our work. #iteachithrive @thrive.zim