Some days ago, I posted on Facebook, an info-graphic I designed about the importance of a retreat, and a number of people liked the post. Now, I know it is right to say something about it.
So this is why I posted the info-graphic.
As the year ends, it is important to set out some time away from the busyness and make an evaluation for improvement of your life.
The bible records in Ephesians 5:15:
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, [NKJV]
Circumspect is the word I want to bring out from the above verse.
Circumference – Inspect.
Inspect the circumference of that last phase, month or year of your life so that you can make a proper evaluation of how things went and to know an area you can improve upon.
This is important to bring out the best in our lives and this period should be accompanied by prayer and intentional decision markers.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
We all look forward to a great year 2015. But a great year doesn’t happen by chance. Our desires and aspirations do not just come true passively. The Bible says to number our days is to apply our heart to wisdom. And this is meant to be learnt.
I would share a few of the pointers I have learnt-
Just a week ago, I launched my first book, Donut, in an event I would remember for the rest of my life, but there remain many steps into the journey of purpose in publishing and passion for young people. 2015 holds the last two steps of my professional exams before I finish medical school. There are major decisions to take and goals to achieve [while I wait for the glorious appearing of Christ].
I cannot afford to just waltz into 2015 with no plan, a compass or a map. Because no one goes to war without a plan [Luke 14:31], I have set out the remaining days of the year to seek the face of God and plan the next phase of my life. Do the same.
Here are tips that could help you:
First, it is important to acknowledge the usefulness of a retreat. A time to still the noises in your mind and listen more clearly to the voice of God; a time to retire from the business or service mode of life and switch to leave mode; better still, to call yourself from the pitch of vigorous play to the bench for a few moments.
It is easy to live each day as it comes in autopilot style. The unexamined life is very convenient and suitable for a mediocre life, but I have discovered that achievers do not run on that life plan. They have periods where they retreat and evaluate. So a retreat is key.
Things to do in a year-planning retreat
Review the year
How great was 2014? Take out time for reflection, contemplation and prayers and also review your journal or life plan. Take out your journals and read through the entries, relishing the special moments of the year. Acknowledge the goals you achieved, the people you met, positive relationships you made and the impact of your wise decisions.
It is important to review your life plan for 2014 and see how much of your goals you ticked. Let the satisfaction of a work well done give you stimulus to a greater year ahead. Do not compare your year with other people’s but with the one you were meant to live according to the plans you made with God at the beginning.
Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others. Assume your own responsibility. Gal 6:4-5 [GW]
As you review, it is important to be thankful for the year. Express gratitude I’ve your successes and not boasting.
Now, it is easy to review the good times of the year, but when it comes to the not-so-great events or missed goals, it can be challenging as a crop of regret or negativity threatens to sprout in your mind.
Handle that with care!
If you have made any poor lifestyle choice, the solution isn’t to wallow in self-pity and beat your self, but to repent and recourse. Remember God’s mercy never stretches thin on this side of eternity.
Do not allow seeds of regret and negativity to grow. These should not kill your drive. At best, what you so to those details is to evaluate what went wrong, and ask God for wisdom to do it better next time.
The ones that are time-bound, gently discard. God redeems time and restores time.
Now project into the New Year.
I will advise you to adopt the solar-system technique as I am used to- make your communion with God the centre/ Sun and list your life components for next year around like planets. In choosing the priority scale, let it be according to God’s will so there would be true balance. These life components will then determine your goals, and daily activities.
For me in 2014, God was the sun.
Then the planets are my family, health and grooming, relationships, academics, my duty in university fellowship, Donut project, HeirWalk blog, business and travel (not listed in order of priority).
So everything I did was a reflection of these planets. It effectively eliminated boredom and idleness in my schedule.
While I am not fully satisfied with the state of every part of my life components, I made progress in every one and I am hopeful of a better experience in future.
Now, you must decide to erase the energy wasting pursuits from your schedule. Those things that appeared great but had no positive influence in the final analysis of your life – relationships, associations, hobbies, activities or responsibilities, and conversations – must be eliminated.
You must learn to say “NO” to stuff that trips you up and weighs you down; or boxes you against corners and stresses you out. I had to learn to say No (painfully, though) to some people, say No to some jobs and helping at some point.
You cannot do everything that comes your way, but you will need to identify when you need to delegate, defer and discard.
Set compelling goals that are SMART – specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and time bound. Then break those goals into steps that can be marked when achieved.
For example, the goal of reading through the Bible in one year made me go scout for Tyndale’s “the one year bible” so I can read daily.
Also, the SMART goal of publishing donut was broken into steps of writing, editing, review, proofing, design, printing, packaging, funding and launching [with dates]. Even if you do not meet up with all the set dates [like Donut, which was not published in June as I initially planned]; you will be near.
Schedule the year.
Seriously, your attendance in marriages, programmes, conferences and other life events should be planned and slotted into a calendar. Chances are you have a phone which can help you do this.
Those things which can be fixed and planned ahead should be added to your calendar, so you will have an idea of the spaces left for all you need to achieve in the coming year.
Do not forget to plan retreats in your year.
A friend of mine retreats the first day odd every month. Another friend sets out the weekend after every clinical rotation in medical school.
Yours might be well spaced. Whichever plan you choose, just make sure that you have time to evaluate and you live acceptable intentionally.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Rom 12:1 [the message]
Review your feeding and health status too. The weak body would hardly be able to execute great dreams. Eat well, rest well, exercise regularly and save yourself a trip to the hospital! [I’m trying this in the New Year]
2015 isn’t really a long time if you look back from now to when 2014 started, but it sure is sufficient to live a life of purpose, adventure and meaning with God at the centre. Plan now.
Make sure you get a journal to record your plans and review then daily as you walk circumspectly. I wish you a great time!
Respond: Do you have plans? Share your ideas.