Today we’re going to talk about why I stopped making long term life plans and what I do now instead to live on purpose every day and still be successful.
“What’s your 5 – 10 year life plan?”A familiar question many recruiters and hiring managers ask in an interview.
A familiar question many parents may ask at the dinner table.
A familiar question your significant other may ask on a date.
& for a while, I had the answer down to a T.
I had it all written out. My 3 mo life plan, my 1 year life plan, my 5 year life plan, and my 10 year life plan.
Not only would I write it out, but I went back to it often and used it as a measuring stick to gauge the progress in my life.
When I reflected on those plans, it either excited me or stressed me. I either felt accomplished or panicked by the number of things I could check off the list.
It’s crazy how a piece of paper that I created could determine my entire outlook on God, life, myself, and others. I would have the nerve to throw a WHOLE fit because what I wrote on a piece of paper didn’t happen like I thought it should.
But, that’s what we do. We have expectations on what our lives should look like in this moment or by a certain age.
For some of us, we may not have them written down, but we have them in our heads. We let our expectations become our mindset, and it determines the way we view God, ourselves, and others.
We may not have our vision board cut and pasted on a poster because we allow social media to be our vision board. We create goals and set expectations based on what our peers are doing.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with setting goals or having a vision board (Habakkuk 2:2-3)
But there is a difference between setting goals and setting a life plan.
Setting realistic goals help us steward what we’ve already been given…Like getting out of debt…
Advancing or learning a new skill in our career…
Using our given talents to solve a problem and serve others in the form of a nonprofit or business…
When it comes to setting realistic goals, deadlines are helpful. They keep us accountable.
But are your deadlines flexible? Are you in a position that allows God to revise the timeline when needed? Or are your expectations set in place never to be moved or checked by anyone but you?
In contrast, setting a life plan is where we start putting timelines on the things in our life that have not yet come.I plan to be married with kids by 30 like my sister
I expect to be able to buy my dream house by 25 like my friend did.
I expect to be fully in my dream career by 22.
I expect to be full time in my business in a year.
I expect to have this many followers in six months.
And many times, our life plans are not based on enhancing what WE currently have, but they’re usually based on what we see others have. Or what we hope to attain in the future.
Now are any of those wants mentioned above wrong to desire? No.
But, we have to be careful when we start creating a life plan that God never intended us to have. We have to be careful when we start mapping out how our lives should look like at age 20, 30, 50, or 70. When we start setting timelines, 90% of the time, our motives are off. What’s your why behind wanting the things by a certain time?
James 4:2-3 – “You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”
So, in a nutshell, A goal is making the most out of what you have.
A life plan is mapping out how your life should look by a given time.
There’s nothing wrong with desiring things to happen for the future, but for our own peace, we have to start giving up our timelines. For our own sanity, we have to stop putting expectations on God for things that may/may not be in alignment with His timing.
So instead of writing life plans, here’s what I’m learning to do instead! Key word : LEARNING 🙂
(1)Follow THE script and let go of MY script
Somewhere along the lines, we take our lives out of the hand of the Creator and think we can fully handle the life we were GIVEN.
Key word : GIVEN.
If someone gives you something, it usually comes with instructions. A setup manual. A warranty policy number. A phone number to call if you have any problems.
Yet, when we’re given the gift of life with a purpose that’s not our own, we set it up on our own terms. We don’t follow the instructions that are already set in place to help us be successful with that gifted life and purpose. We don’t call on our Help when we have problems and don’t know what to do.
& that’s why we have no peace.
Because we’re following the wrong instructions.
That’s like getting an IPhone in the mail and getting the set-up instructions of a Samsung. Apple knows the phone so it will know how to set it up and troubleshoot. Samsung’s instructions won’t help us because Samsung didn’t create the phone.
Yet, that’s what we do when we look to others for instructions before looking to the One who created us.
So, we have to understand that we can’t have OUR script AND His script. We’ve only got one set of hands.
So which script will you pick up to guide you?
I have so much peace and I’m way more productive now that I’m trying my best to make the daily decision to let go. I’ve become way more consistent and resourceful when I stopped pressuring myself into this state of perfection that I created in my head (or on a piece of paper lol).
(2) Find your sweet spot.
The sweet spot is finding your balance of work and rest.
Finding the balance between actively working and actively trusting…
Finding the balance between maximizing your resources but also trusting God’s timing…
When you find the sweet spot, you’ll find peace.
Peace that comes with a job well done, but a peace that comes when you’ve done absolutely nothing and God has still worked it out for you.
Peace when people affirm what you’ve been working on, but also peace when they don’t even seem to notice.
We are supposed to work hard.
“A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.”
Proverbs 12:11 NLT
“Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.”
Proverbs 12:24 NLT
But, we have to find that sweet spot between working and relying on God.
Practically speaking, a good rule of thumb I use for this is my work/life balance principles that I mentioned in last week’s post. So go check it out!
(3) Take inventory in order to stay inspired.
Many times, we look at the surface level of our everyday lives and think, what I’m doing has nothing to do with what I want to do.
This job has nothing to do with my purpose.
This degree has nothing to do with my goals.
This temp job has nothing to do with my bigger purpose.
I’m just out here. Lol
But if we stopped to take inventory, we would be able to see God’s hand at work in everything that we’re doing NOW.
When I take inventory, I get to see that even though my assignment looks different, I’m still working in alignment with my bigger picture. I may not own the company I want or run the ministry I want, but I’m still contributing to it by serving a bigger picture. When you take inventory, you learn that you are on the right path; it just looks different.
So I want you to take out a piece of paper or the notes app on your phone, and I want you to take inventory.
Taking Inventory Questions
1 What is my big picture purpose? How has God called you to better serve Him and others?
If you don’t know this, that’s OKAY. Pray for God’s perspective and that He will help you start seeing the bigger picture and connect the dots of the season you’re currently in. PLEASE reach out if you need help! Sometimes, it’s good to get an outside perspective 🙂
2 What do I do currently? What do I do at work? What do I to serve others?
List out the tasks you do on your job from big to small. List out the things you do for your church, community, family, etc… big or small. List out the things you do in your side hustle or just your everyday life. No one thing is too small. Write it out.
3 What are my passions?
What sparks light? What are you good at? When you’re the most happy, what are you usually doing? What gives you a great burden? What about this world makes you angry? What really hurts your heart? What are you sensitive to? What do you always want to learn more about? What are your interests?
4 Where am I struggling? How will overcoming these struggles help others?
What challenges are you currently facing? How can overcoming them help others? What negative habits/mindsets are you struggling with? What are your areas of weakness? What are your fears? How can your testimony/story help others?
If you do take the time to do this, you’ll see that the things you are doing align with your purpose whether you know all that it contains yet or not. For some of you that don’t know your purpose, you’ll hopefully start seeing similarities and start to connect the dots of the bigger picture.
So you’ll see that sometimes the life plans we create keep us from seeing the life plan He originally created for us!
We have got to start changing our perspective y’all. Keyword : WE lol
We’ve got to stop thinking that God is not here, that He does not care, that He’s mad at us, that He’s punishing us. We’ve got to let go of our expectations and submit to the plan He has for us.
This isn’t an accomplishment to achieve. It’s a daily decision to choose.
So now, the choice is yours.
Are you going to continue to make social media your life guide, or are you going to focus on what really matters?
Are you going to stay in depression about where you thought you should be or are going to rest in the fact that you are exactly where you need to be?
It’s a daily choice. A daily decision.
& I encourage you today to choose peace. To protect your peace. To protect you from your own expectations.
I encourage you to work and steward what you have.
& I pray that God will begin to show you His bigger picture.
Love you guys! Please know that I am rooting for you! And I’m here for you!
Till next time,
Pastor Steven Furtick did this amazing sermon on The Danger of a Dream. Please please please go check it out! It completely set me free! Lol