We are about to bid farewell to 2015. We've run our race, we've kept our eye on the prize, and we are about to cross the finish line victoriously. Or, are we?
Have you accomplished all you set out to do this year? Have your New Year's resolutions come to fruition? Are you just as enthusiastic about change now as you were back in January? If not, it's not too late.
The good news is that it doesn't matter how we started or even where we are now. What matters is how we finish.
Everyone can start strong, but not everyone finishes strong. Why is that? Starting is fun; it's exciting and emotional, but have you noticed that it doesn't take much time for the initial buzz of adrenaline to wear off?
In anything we set out to accomplish, we will always hit that place where the actions that were once so fresh and stimulating become routine, boring, and monotonous. It is amazing how quickly getting up at 6 a.m. every morning to hit the gym or waking up an hour before work to spend time in the Word loses its appeal.
But now the Spirit is urging us to get back into a "New Year's state of mind" and revisit the zeal we once had. Let's shift our mind and our focus so that we can finish the year strong.
You know God is all about finishing. In Hebrews 12:2 the Word states that Jesus is the "author and finisher of our faith." This means He writes our story and then He brings it to completion. Amen! God does not start anything without seeing it through to the end. We are made in His image, so that would be a great quality for us to possess as well.
And look at this wise council from 2 Corinthians 8:10-11:
"And in this matter I give my advice. It is appropriate for you, who began last year not only to give, but also to willingly give. Now therefore complete the task, so that, as there was a willingness to do so, there may be a performance of it according to your means" (MEV).
Wow! It is time to complete what we started nearly a year ago. It's easier than you might think. Here are three simple steps to finish your year strong:
1. Have a clear goal, and write it down. Before we write it, we have to define what it is. What is it specifically that we want to achieve? What is the finish line we wish to cross?
This may be stating the obvious, but we have to know where we want to go in order to get there. So many people are just going through life living day to day with no real sense of purpose and no clear direction. How can we cross our finish line if we don't have a clear and specific line in mind?
Imagine a group of runners at the starting line, ready to begin their race. The gun goes off, and all the runners take off running in various directions. Talk about chaos and confusion! That doesn't happen when real runners begin their race because before they start running they are absolutely conscious of where they are headed. They know precisely where the finish line is, so all of their effort is focused in the direction of their goal. That is not the case with many of us when it comes to our lives! The gun goes off— let's call it our alarm clock—and off we go with no specific destination in mind.
In order to be successful, we must have a target. We must know where we are going in order to get there.
"If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time." – Zig Ziglar.
Right now, before you read any further, take a moment and define for yourself what it is you would like to accomplish. Think about a "finish line" that you'd like to cross. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you. Tune into your heart. Dare to dream. Ask yourself, what is the most important thing to me right now? What am I passionate about?
Maybe it is to grow closer in your walk with Christ. Maybe your desire is to get healthy, improve your marriage, or even something as simple as having more fun. Enjoying life is actually a great goal and something many of us have to be intentional about; otherwise, life becomes just a checklist of tasks. Merely taking care of mundane day in, day out responsibilities is not how God intended for us to live. So, don't judge what is in your heart. Go with it.
Now that you have a goal in mind, write it down. Get it out of your head and onto a piece of paper. There is power in the pen! Writing our goals down is the first step toward making our dreams a reality. Check out the impact of writing goals from this study conducted with graduate students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program. They were asked, "Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?" The result: only 3 percent had written goals and plans, 13 percent had goals but they were not in writing, and 84 percent had no goals at all. Ten years later, the same group was interviewed again and the result was absolutely mind-blowing.
The 13 percent of the class who had goals but did not write them down was earning twice the amount of the 84 percent who had no goals. The 3 percent who had written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent of the class combined. (Forbes.com)
While this study only looks at earnings to quantify success, I still find it to be an extremely motivating example of why creating clear and measurable goals and writing them down is a key to success. Do you know the secret behind the power of writing your goals down? This principle works because it is a biblical principle. "Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets, that he who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it delays, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay" (Hab. 2:2-3, MEV).
God instructs us to write our vision. There is power, God given power, in writing down our vision, our dreams, and our goals.
A biblical principle works for anyone who applies it. Often we see unbelievers prospering more than believers because they are unknowingly practicing biblical principles and Christians are not! Let us, as believers, follow the instruction of the Word of God and walk in the fullness that God created us to have.
Now, next to your written goal, write one action step that you can begin to implement to initiate momentum to bring your goal to pass.
The distance between our dreams and reality is called action.
If your goal is to improve your marriage, one action step might be to read one book this month on marriage. If your goal is to strengthen your spiritual life, one action step might be using your commute time to and from work to pray or to listen to a solid Christian teaching. If your goal is to have more fun, maybe you want to investigate taking a dance class, making a date with friends to try a new restaurant, or find some frivolous and fun activity that suits your fancy.
Now you have identified a goal, written it down, and chosen one action step. You are on your way.
2. Think about it. "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." – Proverbs 23:7
How we think is crucial, and it is a powerful biblical tool because how we think shapes what we believe and what we achieve. Step two is envisioning our goal coming to pass. This is actually called meditation. When we hear the word meditation, we often think of the eastern form of meditation—trying to empty our mind or chanting a mantra—but as Christians that is not how we meditate. We meditate not by emptying our mind but by focusing our mind on the truth of the Word of God.
To meditate means to ruminate and to mull over. It is the act of turning something over again and again in our mind. The truth is we are always meditating. We are in a constant state of mulling things over and ruminating. It is called worrying. If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate.
The only difference between worrying and meditating is what we are ruminating on. We want to purposefully think about what we want to happen, and where we want to go. We have to choose to direct our mind to focus on God's promises and His Word. This is the kind of intentional thinking that will propel us into our destiny.
Pause right now. Take a moment, close your eyes, and think about your goal. See yourself accomplishing it. That's two simple steps down and one to go.
3. Speak it. In the book of James, chapter 3, we are taught that our tongue is like the rudder of a ship. Whichever way the rudder turns, it directs the course of the ship. Therefore, whichever way our mouth turns, it directs the course of our life. Powerful. Our words shape our reality. What we speak manifests in our life. Do you speak words of doubt and unbelief all day, or are your words full of life?
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue." (Prov. 18:21).
Take a moment now and speak life. Speak your goal out loud in first person. For example:
"I have a close relationship with the Lord. I am disciplined in getting up early to spend time in the Word. It is easy for me."
"I am in the best shape of my life. My body is fit, healthy and strong. I am full of energy! I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
"I love my spouse. Everyday we are getting closer. I refuse to hold onto resentment. My heart is full of love and my marriage is better than it has ever been."
Whatever your goal is, speak it, not in future tense as if it will happen, but speak it in present tense. It is happening now! Use your mouth to direct your life so that it aligns with the promise of abundant life that God has for you.
Write it, think it, speak it, and before you know it, you will see it manifest in your life! I will meet you in 2016—on the other side of the finish line.
Robia LaMorte-Scott has a unique background as a professional dancer and successful actress in Hollywood for 20 years, working with recording artists such as Prince (she starred as "Pearl" in his Diamonds and Pearls Concert Tour and Album) and starring in numerous television shows like Beverly Hills 90210, CSI, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to name a few. Robia accepted Christ while working on Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1997 (yes, it is a great story!) and shortly thereafter walked away from a thriving career in the entertainment industry to pursue God and follow the call into full-time ministry. For more information on the biblical tools of writing, thinking, and speaking, visit Robia Ministries at robiaministries.org; Facebook Robia Scott; Twitter @RobiaMinistries.