As the last notes of “Auld Lang Syne” fade and the Christmas decorations are packed up for another year, many of us are analyzing the old year and assessing the goals for the new.
Did I accomplish the goals set up last January? If not, how far did I get with them, and are they still important to me? For the goals accomplished, did they bring satisfaction or were they just a stepping stone to the next? If I fizzled out on a goal, what was the reason?
In addition to such reviews, I like to figure out what I learned. After all, it is important to continue to learn. Here are three things I learned in 2018.
God is more interested in my growth than my accomplishments.
Like most folks, I keep busy. Because I want to use my time and resources wisely, I often have a book or paper with for moments when I have to wait so that I am not idle. Using small increments of time add up. Besides reading and taking notes, I study. Last year, I studied the following things: Scripture, the Holy Spirit, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and the writing craft.
When I became distraught about not learning fast enough or well enough, I would pray. Several times, I was reminded that our accomplishments and what we do aren’t as important to God as they are to people. People always ask us what we “do”. God, however, wants to see us grow. He wants us to move forward. Even if it is only a tiny step, it is in the right direction. We are the ones who get all caught up in how much and how long and how well we did something.
Whatever we accomplished, did it make us happy? Did we thank God for it?
Worrying is a major waste of time.
Getting caught up in our accomplishments may cause us to worry. Often in the Bible, we are encouraged to not worry. I, however, fail to follow this advice more often than I care to mention. What has it helped me with? Nothing. For many months, I worried that my daughter didn’t understand her math. This school year, it has clicked, and she is doing fine. All those hours of fretting—lost!
Worrying only causes me to lose sleep. I can’t do anything except pray and give it to the Lord. If I rest in Him, He takes care of it, and I can rest. When my son was stuck at La Guardia Airport because of a blizzard, my first response was to fret. A friend reminded me that God was with him and entreated me to trust. When another son was in a dangerous city in Mexico, I wavered a bit. By taking it to the Lord every time, I found peace. Questionable medical reports, sick friends and family, broken down vehicles, discouraging thoughts—it isn’t easy to stop negative thoughts, but it can be done through practice and through praising the One who is the only one able to do anything in the first place.
Small steps can lead to big things.
I learned I can accomplish a goal using small but regular increments of time. My husband assisted me so I could accept a writing challenge I made myself to free write six days a week for one month just so I could see if I could make a goal. I wrote nearly 60,000 words just by writing one to two hours per day.
From taking this challenge, I learned fear causes procrastination. Since I wanted to write at least 50,000 words, I couldn’t make excuses to do something else. I sat myself down and typed. Even if it was terrible, I kept going. The goal was to get the words down. Rewriting is where the real work is. I mustn’t let fear stop me from that either. This all comes full circle, you see. Worry is caused by fear also. Fear stops us from moving forward. God can use anyone to accomplish anything. If he chooses me, how great that will be. But if he doesn’t have the same plans, if I am making progress in His plan, which is for me to trust and grow in my relationship with Him, then I have already succeeded, no matter what anyone else says.
Which brings me to an important point: what everyone else says doesn’t matter. Only what God says matters.
This is what I learned. What did you learn in 2018?