*This post is straight from my New Year, New Battle Plan podcast #26 notes. If you can't listen to the podcast this will give you the opportunity to basically read though the podcast. If you have already listened to the podcast there is probably nothing new here. Enjoy!
Now that Christmas has passed and we are heading into the new year. I think that it is incredibly important that we take some time to reflect the past year and plan for the coming year. For many years I simply refused to do this. What was the point, I felt. Every year had become the same, I had resigned myself to the fact that things were as they were and I didn't feel that I had any control. I felt that “New Year's Resolutions” were a waste of time, and for most people, they are, right? All the longtime smokers laugh at the smokers that are going to quite, all the gym rats laugh at and are annoyed by the influx of new people at their gym. But my opinions have completely changed. I believe that we MUST take ownership of our lives. Your life will be controlled, the question is who controls it.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
While Paul is clearly speaking of the law here, we do exactly the same thing when it comes to our goals or resolutions. As Jacko Willink, the Navy Seal who I mentioned in podcast #23 that co-author the excellent book “Extreme Ownership” says “Discipline equals freedom” let that sink in “discipline equals freedom”. The more discipline that you possess the more freedom you gain. The freedom to not sleep in, the freedom to pass on your favorite snack. This is why discipline is so important. Are you going to do what you want to do? Or are you going to do what you don't want to do? Without Discipline, you will not accomplish anything! That is why I no longer write a list of yearly goals, I write a battle plan.
Goal: what one intends to accomplish or attain. Intention implies little more than what one has in mind to bring about.
A Battle plan of Challenges-
Challenge: to confront or defy boldly; to arouse or stimulate especially by presenting difficulties.
In this way, we take goal out of the abstract and we make them personal. You may be cynical, but it works for me. The reason it works is that the challenger is YOU, You are in a fight for what you want to accomplish against YOURSELF. YOU must take ownership there is no one else to blame. For example, you want to get up earlier each day to have time to pray and read the bible. Make it personal, write it and think of it as a challenge. I challenge myself to wake at 4:30 each morning. You are challenging YOU. Who wants to go back to sleep when that alarm goes off, YOU. The battle each morning is against YOURSELF. There is no one else to blame or point a finger at for your failure. You are putting yourself in a position of ownership. While this works, where you are the only one involved. Time spent on social media, skipping that morning donut, or working out. Somethings that will be written in a well done and complete plan will involve others. Whether it’s quality time with your wife, kids, or members of your pack or clan, you can only control your availability and commitment level. Something that I find useful here is to be specific, If time is difficult to come by, schedule in those you care about, I know we always feel that these things should happen organically, but we put important things on our schedule, and what is more important than family and friends? Also write down ideas, or options so that when random opportunities arise you are ready. From simple things, you do with your kids like go for a walk, to weekend outings like a camping trip, and don’t forget winter activities like teaching them to play checkers. Do the same for movies you want to see, or restaurants to check out. This way when opportunities arise a date night or a member or two of the pack free for a night you have options to throw out there. You can be the man, versus saying “I don’t know what do you want to do”. We also may need to be specific on parts of our personal challenges. Many times this is the only way to measure success. You got yourself out of bed or to the gym, you’ve won that battle, now what are you going to do? How many push-ups, how many pounds do you want to lose? Don’t just say improve, you must be specific.
For me this isn’t a once a year proposition, I believe it is necessary to revisit these challenges at least once a quarter, once a month even. There are many reasons for this. One reason is that things change, last year at this time I wouldn’t have thought that I would have had the opportunity to be on the Hagmann Report or that Ever Vigilant would finally have been refocused to what it is now. If you are truly following God’s lead you have no idea where you will be next year at this time. You may have a new job, or an opportunity to move, or a child on the way. So trying to stick to a rigid yearly plan is silly. Another reason is that challenges will be met and you want to keep the momentum moving forward. Revisiting your Challenges give you the opportunity to reread and rewrite your battle plan.
I mentioned at the beginning it’s also a time to reflect, I really believe taking time out to reflect on the year gone by the time spent with loved ones, or on those who have passed, and on the blessings that God has bestowed upon us will help us to be more grateful. It's also a great opportunity to see all that you have accomplished in that year. If you are smart you will write these down in your quarterly or monthly review, that way you can actually remember what happened in January and February.
So let's not write down our goals on a cocktail napkin this year at 11:00 new years eve night. Instead this year lets draw up a Battle Plan. Take an hour or two to yourself, sit down with a coffee. First pray, pray that your time would be fruitful and that he would keep the distractions at bay. That you would like his help in planning out the next quarter of the year, and that he would give you the strength to defeat yourself in the battles to come. Spend some time reflecting the past year, the ups and downs. Question yourself. What did you learn? What has changed about you? Are you a better man, husband, father, friend? Use the answers to these questions to help form your battle plan. Pornography, your job, alcohol, what is consuming you? What is keeping you from being the man that you want to be? Start there. You must come realize that so many times we hold on dearly to the thing that is killing us. We are securely clinging on to an anchor like a child with their stuffed bear, as we sink deeper and deeper into the abyss. Let go! In these things seek help, you do not need to fight these battles alone. Pray that God would put the people in your life to help. Stop pointing your finger and take responsibility. Secondly personal challenges. Things like starting a side hustle, or eating healthier, or building an AR-15 or a computer. Most of these things have not been accomplished because you have given into YOU. Too much Netflix, not enough effort. Be specific, and be bold. One thing I believe we all need to put in our battle plan at this point is to build our pack. I believe that it is imperative that we seek to surround ourselves with men that will hold us to a standard while ferociously guarding our flanks. We must not rely on our church to do this for us we must do it for ourselves. Thirdly those things that involve others. Be specific, I will teach my daughter to play checkers, or I will go out with my wife every other Friday, and take responsibility for this, buy the checkers board, get reservations.
Maybe this past year has been difficult, one thing after another. To you I say keep fighting, keep pressing forward. We only grow stronger through difficulty, and you are still breathing. Don’t give up, take the remaining fragments and pieces that are left, gather them up and with God’s help form the best battle plan you can. God is still there. For others this past year has been special, take those treasures and memories and lock them in your heart, they may give you the courage and the fight to keep going when times get difficult. They may be the light that helps you to correct your bearings and start heading back in the right direction. For others this year was neither special nor difficult, this may be the worst of the three, you didn't feel the pain and difficulty to hone you into a stronger man and you didn’t put yourself in the position to have a special year which takes courage and builds confidence. Maybe fear is holding you back from something special, to you I say follow God’s lead there is no fear in him. Be bold.