Like I said a while back, I read a lot of self-help books. Every major bestselling (or Kindle free) book on time management or habits or productivity, I’ve probably at least scanned the jacket of it. They’re all the same.
1. Define your core values and your priorities.
2. Define what success looks like for you.
3. Set goals for what you want to do, minding your priorities, and break each goal into bite size pieces.
5. Create daily routines and habits that emphasize the good (a bite of your goal, sleep, exercise, warm water with lemon) and discourage the bad (toxic people, time wasters, inefficient goal-chasing).
And voila, a “life by design.”
I devour book after book like this. I play along. I imagine my life in 5 years. I write my priorities. I consider the discord between my priorities and my actions. I try to write SMART goals that ignite my soul and make my heart sing.
But I fail. We all fail. There are so many books because everyone has a solution for getting it to stick this time. If one book actually worked, we wouldn’t need so many verses of the same song and dance. (I’m having a ball mocking all the clichés, can you tell??? Hellooooo 7 am Friday.)
But it occurred to me the other day, why all the books fail, what they all have in common. I have yet to find (please let me know if one exists) a book that mentions prayer in the five steps. What do YOU want to have. What makes YOU happy. What do YOU want to do. What’s that they say about best laid plans?
So I’m proposing five new steps to a more fulfilling life. Your priorities are God, family, friends, and health, in some order, so let’s get that out of the way.
1. Pray for clarity in finding your purpose, your role in His master plan, on Earth.
2. Define goals and habits you want.
3. Reflect and pray about these goals, and pay attention to whether your heart ignites passion or begrudgingly accepts (or even fights) them.
4. Do not pursue goals that don’t resonate with your soul, and don’t ignore what your soul really wants. I believe God gave us free will, but also designed us a brain and an instinct like His to discern this kinda thing.
5. Break the passion goals into bite size pieces like above. Continue as above, plus constant feedback about our spirit and our intent. Is reaching this goal purely for your benefit, or will it improve someone else’s life too? Are we trying to improve our lives to simplify and get back to what matters, or are we chasing the Joneses and their chaos?
At least some of the books have that going for them, they recognize that “having everything” often includes stress and no time to relax, and is not actually most people’s idea of success. But still they suggest goals like number of sales or dollars or something so that you can have the breathing room to live your personal life the way you want.
Stop the cycle. Start on your knees and ask for guidance, ask for vision, ask for strength to carry out whatever He would have you do today. As long as you’re following that and minding your family, friends, and health, He’ll take care of the rest.