What are your goals in life? Over the next ten years? Five years? This year? Are you intentional about planning steps to fulfill these goals?
If you are going to use time effectively – to help you do so is the purpose of this series – it is important to have some sense of direction and destiny. Clearly some have this much more precisely defined than others. The young swimmer aspiring for gold at the Olympics has a passion that will cause her to practice swimming at 5 am each morning before school for many years, a discipline that requires intentional planning and sacrifice. But not many of us are budding Olympians!
But what about life? Marriage, Career, or other ambitions? Where do you picture yourself in 5, 10, 20 years time?
Writing your history in advance
In part 1 of this series I spoke to you about writing your history in advance. If you did not watch that video please go back to January 4th. Time Management pt 1 – What is it all about? In that video I was particularly referring to a day, the period of time we will return to shortly as the basic unit for time planning. However, weeks, months and years are made up of days.
At the end of last year did you think back over the past decade? Did you feel challenged ‘I would never have expected such-and-such to have happened’ or ‘I hoped to achieve a particular goal and surpassed it’? Clearly, none of us accurately knows the future, but either we can be fatalistic and let the future come to us, accepting whatever it brings, or we can be intentional to chart our path into the future in a particular direction.
I felt called into ‘ministry’ at the age of nine. This determined my choice of school studies – classics – until, with a fading ‘call’ when I was 16, I changed to the sciences. Having obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering I realised I would have liked to have become a medical doctor, so intentionally looked for opportunities in the medical field. Nothing suitable was available for professional engineers at that stage (I am going back over 40 years!) so I returned to university and carried out research before an opening came up.
During those research years God called me again and seven years later I started serving Terry Virgo ‘full time’ as his administrator. (It is interesting to note that there are famous Biblical characters who had many years of waiting before they began to see the fulfillment of their call – Abraham, Paul and, of course, Jesus are just three examples – not that I equate myself with these spiritual giants!!! There can be the danger of believing that what God has spoken into your heart requires an instant manifestation; this is often not the case.)
Through all this I made decisions that moved me towards short, medium or long-term goals. These had to be outworked on a day-to-day basis, often at a relatively unconscious level, being the ‘canvas’ rather than the detail of my life.
That represents something of the ‘macro’ of time management, handling the large issues. But what does the micro look like? This will become the main focus of future blogs.
A two minute exercise
Before we consider the detail of time management I want to give you an exercise – it will take only two minutes but will really help you engage with what I shall share in the coming weeks.
What are the challenges you are aware of that make you less effective than you would wish? Interruptions? Lack of punctuality? Procrastination (putting things off till tomorrow)? ….? The list must be honest and specific to yourself.
Please record your answers and use them as a checklist as we explore this skill together. I hope it will encourage you as you discover ways of addressing these challenges.
I will close this posting with a quote from Gordon McDonald’s classic book Ordering your Private World, first published in 1984 and now in its 4th edition. There is one word I have highlighted several times – intentional.
“I seize time and command it when I budget for it in advance. This last principle is the most important – here is where the battle is won or lost. I have learned the hard way that the principle elements of my time budget have to be in the calendar 8 weeks in advance of the date! I must take initiative in planning to feel that I am initiating rather than responding to life”.
Gordon McDonald is intentional in his planning!
And so was Jesus, which allowed him to shout in triumph from the cross “it is finished!”