Confession time: I am a perfectionist. Type-A personality. A textbook Type One on the Enneagram scale. However you want to phrase it, no matter how many personality tests I take, my results remain constant. I am a rule-following, order-imposing, organizational-loving gal. Anyone who knows me, knows this about me. While I am well-aware of the dangers of never “letting loose” and having too high of standards for myself, I embrace my personality, and my family has too. Just this year for Christmas, I was gifted two different 2021 wall calendars by two different family members, as well as a 2021 planner (more on this later). I love making to-do lists, setting goals for myself, and having a schedule.
And, as someone who thoroughly enjoys planning, you can only imagine my excitement at the start of each new year, when it’s time to fill in my planner for the next year and set goals for what I hope to accomplish over the upcoming twelve months.
So, as I sat down one morning during the time vortex that is the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I had my coffee in tow, music playing on Pandora, and I cracked open my newly obtained planner to, of course, start planning for 2021. Now, this is no ordinary planner. I asked specifically for this particular planner (again, Type One coming out in full form). This planner is the 2021 Goal Planner by Christy Wright, a Dave Ramsey personality.
As a Ramsey-ite, I had heard on multiple podcasts Dave and Christy endorse this planner in the months leading up to Christmas, and I knew, having read Christy’s previous book and hearing her on the show, that it was going to encompass planning, goal setting, inspirational quotes…all the things I love. What I wasn’t expecting was to be shaken awake, stopped in my tracks, put in my place by this inanimate object, as if Christy was talking to me right in my office.
Opening the cover of the planner, before ever even reaching the January 2021 calendar page, I was presented with a “2021 Goal Worksheet.” In these introductory pages of the planner, Christy outlines several reflective questions regarding goals and plans for the upcoming year, but, before even answering these questions, she prompts the reader to first consider where God may be leading her this year. She writes, “Carve out some time to pray and journal without being interrupted,” then proceed to answer the questions.
As a Christian, this immediately convicted me. Why was I so taken aback by the idea to pray for God’s guidance before filling out this planner? Maybe because I get so used to being the orchestrator of my daily to-do lists that I forget to ask for His guidance in my ordinary, minute tasks, these daily and weekly tasks that seem irrelevant, but are actually the details that make up how I spend my life.
So, I did what Christy asked: I put the planner to the side, grabbed my prayer journal, and spent a few quiet moments asking for God to guide my completing of this planner and also my moment by moment life for the next twelve months and beyond.
It was in these contemplative moments that I was reminded of something I had read the night before. Every winter, I try and read at least a few classic British novels (I know, I’m a book nerd as well as a perfectionist!), and I had just finished Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre. In the story, a secondary character, St. John, is giving Jane advice on how she should spend her time. While St. John is not necessarily the most popular character in the story, his advice to Jane struck me as I read these lines: “…To the end of turning to profit the talents which God has committed to your keeping; and of which he will surely one day demand strict account…Don’t cling so tenaciously to ties of the flesh; save your constancy and ardour for an adequate cause…”
These lines were filling my mind as I was journaling and praying. How much of the past year had I wasted not using the talents God has gifted me? How many minutes of the past 365 days had I “clung to ties of the flesh” – earthly tasks I thought were important, and not used my ardor for the cause of Christ and His Kingdom?
With these questions convicting me, I returned to the Goal Worksheet in the Christy Wright planner, thinking not just of the goals and plans I had prepared for myself, but more so considering how the days, weeks, & months of 2021 could be used for God. Considering how I can use my time, talents & gifts to better serve Him and others in this new year.
After spending hours thinking, reflecting, and goal-planning, it is my hope and prayer that I will continue to look to God for guidance as I make my plans and to-do lists for 2021. If being organized is your passion or if you are more of a go-with-the-flow type, I invite you to join me in seeking God’s guidance for your goals and plans this year. Grab Christy Wright’s Goal Planner, or even just a piece of scrap paper. Reflect and pray for God to reveal how you can use the talents He has given you for others. Let’s plan on 2021 not being a year we focus our time and attention on ourselves, but rather on how we can better serve our neighbors, communities, and the world. If we can do this, then I believe the next twelve months can be the most transformative and fulfilling ones we have ever experienced. Cheers to 2021!