I guess it is Fall now. In Southern Louisiana it is hard to tell. Although thinning, it is still green everywhere and the high still frequents 94 degrees. But internally, I am ready.
Ready for a change in season.
Fall for me represents many things:
- Getting my eating back on track in preparation for blowing it on the best eating holidays of the year.
- As nighttime comes earlier, I double down on healthy lifestyle habits like sleep and exercise to give me energy. Less hours of light in general creates a subliminal lethargy in me.
- I become much more introspective as I seek action plans to end the year strong and begin making plans for the year to come.
- And I begin planning for opportunities to spend more time with people, visit my kids, and begin the holiday rhythm and traditions.
This year we have seen more loss as a family. My mother-in-law recently passed away and it feels like a new baton has been handed down. My nephew, a staple at every family event, moved to Dallas for a new job and to get settled for his new life as a married man soon to come.
As people leave us and are not in our everyday proximity, the world actually feels smaller. When we experience death, family or friends, our personal timeline feels shorter.
We desire what is important, what is good, and what is purposeful.
In the end, every Fall, I tend to follow the same path forward. I’ll share it with you and save you the $5.99 apps I have already explored.
1. Looking Back
I always like to look back at least at the past year. I review old journals and ask myself questions. Here are some exercises you may want to try:
- Make a T-chart on your page. One side plus and the other size minus. Start with January and jot down all the positives and negatives of the year. I like the added chronological order as trends may spring up.
- Look at the key areas of life, health, relationships, finances, school/work, and journal regarding where you feel you are right now in each area and why.
- Go back to the plans and goals you made last year at this time and write about your progress or rate it on your own subjective scale.
2. Reflect and Pray
Reflect and pray over the past year and where you are now in your life.
- Pray over this time of reflection and ask the Lord to reveal what He wants you to see. (Sometimes this changes things in the negative column to the positive – His measures are different than ours.)
Write about your feelings and thoughts as you review your past year:
- Is your life heading in the direction that you would hope?
- Is your relationship with God close? Do you feel like you are listening and hearing His will and plans for your life?
- Are you heading in the right direction? Need to change course? Speed up or slow down?
- How are you? Emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally?
- Do you feel stuck? Are you at home in your own skin?
- What is your stress level in your life right now?
When we reflect on where we are and how we feel about it, it helps us think about the future and what is next. Hopefully, it is just pressing on and fine-tuning our intentions in life because we are on the right path. When I read journals from years past, I laugh at how often I want to shake things up, because I actually like change, but after my season of reflection, realize this is the path God set me on years ago. It is a path I have loved; tweaking it not withstanding.
4. Course Correct or Stay the Course.
This is where you have to be honest with yourself and listen for God. If you are like me, the world makes me antsy and looking for change. We always want bigger and better. We want to do more and have more. Heck, we want to feel more (more positive of course) and have more passion.
What I have realized in my walk with the Lord over the past decade is that when you are on God’s path and plan for your life, it is your best life. It may not look like the world would think is our best life, but we need to remember that His measurement is the only one that matters.
At my mother-in-law’s memorial service, person after person came up to share stories of her southern grace, her determination, her encouragement. She was steadfast.
She knew the plan God had for her, with and without hardship along the way, and she was steadfast. She knew what was most important for her, and it was reflected in the way she lived, and it was consistent and meaningful enough for all who interacted with her to see it. And in return, it impacted them. She had an impact in this world and will continue to into eternity.
I wasn’t always on God’s path for my life. I had to course correct. It happened about 19 years ago. And yes, it was dramatic change. But since then, even when I go through this process every year, it is the same path. When we finally find God’s will for our lives, it is everlasting. We may need to tweak and fine tune, but we stay the course.
I have done both.
Where are you? When you take some time to reflect and plan in this Fall season, what should the future hold for you?
I can promise one thing…..
God has a plan for you.