Most years I begin January with a neat set of goals. I like to have a clear vision and a plan for how to get there. I divide my year into nice quarters and check in on my goals near my birthday (March), at the beginning of summer (June), and at the beginning of the school year (September) to make sure I’m on track. I adapt and change goals as my life unfolds but having a sense of where I’m trying to go gives me a sense of clarity about what matters and what I want to move towards.
Annual goals have helped me both personally and professionally. They give shape to my life and have helped me call into being things that did not exist before. I dreamed and planned for my education. We planned for trips and celebrations, downtime and remodeled rooms. Ask my poor husband, on every weekend away I pull out a notebook and ask… What do you dream of? What should we work toward? Where do you want to go? These conversations have produced bucket lists, 25th-anniversary parties, and trips to the Grand Canyon and New Orleans. Our new home came from a long considered list of hopes and dreams, turned into goals and plans.
I think that’s why it’s a little shocking to confess that this year, I have no plans. I’ve set no goals. Even Keith is a bit taken back.
This year, I am trying to find a new rhythm. I don’t want to push or pull my life around my own vision. I want to see where this path will lead. I’m a bit lost at the moment. I am looking for the next turn and it feels like I need to turn down the radio so I don’t miss the signs. I want to move toward the next thing, and because I’m in unfamiliar territory it seems like I need to first find my bearings. I need to wait and watch, to rest and pray, to trust that there is a path unfolding as I walk.
So, I am focusing on making room. I want to be ready for new things as they come. New ideas, new projects, a new job, and new plans… not on my timetable but right on time.
For now, I am feeling a little slack. Some of the fullness is gone from my life. My days are less hectic and more measured. There are gaps in my hours and weeks where once there was only rush and push. In the empty spaces I am trying to add stillness and rest, but if I’m honest it isn’t easy.
I think I’m in a season of rest and restoration, a time to recover and build wholeness before the next season of fruitfulness. But, I don’t like winter. I’m not good at rest. I want to be productive and connected in all the seasons of my life… and this is uncomfortable to sustain.
We are in the longest part of winter here in New England. The beauty of the holidays is long past. The raw wind whips the barren landscape encased a layer of dirty snow. It feels like the cold will never retreat. But it always does. Spring always comes.
I’ve learned that there is little I can do about the New England winter, it will come and go as it pleases. Railing against the reality of the weather or this season in my life will have little effect. Instead, I will look for quiet pleasure and moments of sweetness within this season. To enjoy and relax rather than wish it away. So, I’m throwing another log in the stove and pouring a cup of tea. I’m reading, visiting, and writing. I’m just looking out the window for a while. Spring will come, to the landscape and to my life. In the meantime, I’ll slow down and enjoy the winter.