Through the Fog

Lessons in Snowmobiling

My mom recently reminded me of the time I went for a ride on my uncle’s snowmobile.  My aunt and uncle live in Northern British Columbia and we visited one Christmas when I was a teenager. While I was out riding on the frozen lake, I got disoriented. There was low cloud and the visibility was limited.

I was lost. It took me some time to find my way off the lake and eventually I found my way back. Reflecting on the ride, I recalled the uncertainty I was feeling trying to navigate when visibility was so poor. Those moments were uncomfortable.

As I have been preparing and planning for 2022, that story keeps coming back to me. How do I make a  plan and goals amidst so much uncertainty? When I cannot see how the ever-changing state of the world is going to affect me next week, how can I plan for something six to twelve months from now?

The reality is that these questions have always been there. The illusion of a ‘stable’ environment has always been just that. Even in the most predictable of times, there are always things that will throw us off balance and ruin our best laid plans.

In these times, when the uncertainty is obvious, how do I plan? How can I ensure the goals I have set myself will continue to move the needle in the important areas of my life, even as the ground seems to continuously shift beneath me?

My process has been different this year, but I am excited about where it has led me.  

Themes

Part of my goal setting process has been praying and working out what the theme is for my life in 2022. (A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the idea of word of the year – if you are looking for a great podcast episode that explores this more, check out this episode of Way of the Heart).

The act of determining a theme or word of the year is important because it acts as a focal point. As I go through my planning the theme is a guiding or linking principle.  It permeates throughout the different areas of my life. It is amazing to look backwards at the end of a year to see how the words have intersected with the path of my life.

This year, there are two words that have emerged for me through this process. 

Risk and Trust.

Looking at the areas in my life I want to move forward in 2022 and where I want to move them to, it is going to take some risk to get there. For example, one of my goals for this blog and The Cedar Life is to try some new things, new mediums, that I think will help me reach more people and diversify the ways I communicate.

Some of the ideas I have feel like a stretch for me. I know that to grow, I must try new things, but I am terrified of looking stupid or failing miserably. Maybe I will, but I am certain that even if that happens, I will learn something and be better for it in the long run. Certainly better than if I had not taken any risk at all.

This is also where trust comes in. All of my goals need to be rooted in relationship with God. As I look at each goal, I am seeking alignment between my desires and God’s plan for my life. Within that plan, I feel called to step outside of my comfort zone. There is a part of me that wants to temper those goals and make them a bit less uncomfortable – easier. But if I trust in His plan for me, I must be willing to take a leap of faith and accept that the act of trust in God is more important than the outcome. To believe that I will be taken care of, even in defeat.

I think of my kids when they jump off the stairs or tables into my arms to catch them. They never question whether I will catch them. They have trust in me.  Maybe it is easier when you can see your dad standing in front of you to trust that you will not fall, but this childlike trust in the Father is what we are called to and gives us confidence to pursue greatness, even at the risk of failure.

As I take risks to seek the path He is calling me to, I must trust that He will be there for me.

First Things First

In years past, my annual goals would likely have focused on career and personal development. I might have worked towards a promotion at work or had some educational or fitness goal.  The idea of a marriage goal or building practices to help me be a better father have only come into my annual planning in the last couple of years.

Goals that aligned with public achievement would excite me as I desired the validation in completing them. But validation from others is not sustainable as a source of motivation.

When my goals do not match my priorities, an imbalance is created. If I put more effort into achieving something professionally than I do into my family, it sends a clear message. If I say ‘family first’ but my attention says otherwise, the words ring hollow.

In order, my goals this year focus on my relationship with God, care for my soul, mind, and body, my marriage, my children, and then everything else – there are other big goals contained within ‘everything else’, but they are subordinate to the most important relationships in my life.  

Boldness in the Fog

When the short-term future seems so murky, it takes boldness to chart a course. In doing so, we can become a light in our own lives. Light shines through the fog and can lead beyond it.

The temptation is to take the conservative, low risk approach. There are circumstances that this approach serves has served me well. But the path of growth, the path of wholeheartedness, requires taking risk. Stepping out in faith and knowing that regardless of what the outcome is, there is something to be gained.

The Father is there to guide us. He is asking us to trust Him – to leap from the comforts in our lives into the unknown, know that He will be there to catch us.

– Sean

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