All of us want to accomplish something, right? We all look off into that rose-tinted dream we call “someday” and think of all the things we will do. In the meantime, the only time we are promised, which is this present moment, is passing us by. If we don’t start planning now, we won’t be ready for tomorrow if and when it comes! So, how should we be planning for the future? What are some simple, practical ways that we can plan instead of just dreaming? Let’s look at them through the eyes of the Proverbs 31 woman: a master of planning!
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard
1. How Did the Proverbs 31 Woman Plan?
Did you know that everyone who gardens is automatically planning for the future? It’s true! Right now the background of my laptop is a quote that I love. It’s by Robert Louis Stevenson and says, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” I find that to be an encouraging quote when you are working on something but not seeing a lot of visible results yet.
That’s how it is when you plant a garden. When you put a watermelon seed in the ground, you don’t get to take a bite of sweet juicy melon from that seed the day you plan it. No, it takes time and careful tending before you get to cut open that melon and reveal its red, luscious middle.
The Proverbs 31 woman knew this to be true when she bought a field. She knew that she wouldn’t reap a harvest the day that she purchased the land, but she was planning for the future. Her perspective was much bigger than just the day she was living.
The same was true for planting a vineyard. She chose to invest what she had already gotten through hard work, into growing grapes. While the fruit of her hands was something she had already obtained and had in the present moment, she chose to invest it in her future and the future of her family.
Yes, while the Proverbs 31 woman was busy living in the moment and caring for her family, she didn’t become so focused on the present moment as to ignore or forget about planning for the future. She was willing to think through what they would need later and invest time and money into being prepared.
2. Why is Planning for the Future Important?
Why is it important for us to start planning for the future? There are quite a few reasons. I think we can agree that it is important to plan, but it may be even more helpful to have some concrete reasons to motivate us.
Life is Short
We have only been given so much time on this earth to use for God’s glory. If we don’t plan, it can be easy for us to drift along, living in a rut, and not seeking the Lord’s will for how we should be using our time. It’s a lot easier to dream about all of the things we should do someday than it is to start planning and working on them now.
It Keeps Us Focused
It’s hard to know what to work on when you don’t know what your goal is, isn’t it? Picture this. You decide to build a house. Your first step is to pour some concrete and then start hammering boards together. All of this is done without even thinking about how you want the house to look, what you need to do to make it sturdy, or where your fixtures will go. I don’t think you’ll end up with a house; all you’ll have is a mess! It’s a lot the same way in life. If you don’t have plans for where you are headed, then you won’t know what you need to work on today.
You Can Prepare
The Bible warns us not to worry about the future.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
The Bible also tells us to use our time wisely.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
While we aren’t to worry about tomorrow, this does not mean that we can’t make plans. We should have a balance of trusting God for the future with seeking His will and planning what He would have us to do. Preparing for the future can be short- term such as having a weekly schedule or having an evening routine that preps you for the following day. This is important, but so is long-term planning.
Achieve Long Term Goals
Long-term goals are called that for a reason. It’s because they usually take a lot of planning, effort, and time to accomplish. Often, long-term goals are some of the more important things that need to be done. But they can’t be accomplished right away. This is why we need to start planning them now so that we can take small steps toward reaching them.
3. How Do You Start Planning for the Future?
Let’s break this down into some simple steps that you can implement.
Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. Proverbs 16:3
The first step we should always take when we are planning, long or short-term planning, is to talk to God and seek His will. Why? Simply because it is important to base our plans on God’s will and not merely on what we think we want to do. God already has a perfect plan for each one of us, and He wants to show it to us piece by piece as we ask Him. He doesn’t show us everything at once, (thankfully!) but He will show us in His perfect time if we obey what He has shown us and continue seeking Him.
Continuing to seek the Lord’s will, think through your goals, passions, and interests. What areas do you feel led to pursue? Ask yourself these 7 questions and think through your answers.
- What talents has God given me?
- What things am I interested in?
- What would I like to accomplish in the next year? 5 years?
- What should I be doing today to start on my long-term goals?
- What new habits do I need to develop?
- Which of my long-term goals is a top priority to work on right now?
- What should I be doing to build God’s Kingdom and serve others?
3. Pen and Paper
Write it down! Don’t just think about what you should be doing. Write down your goals. Once you have them written, you could also rewrite them in order of priority. Then break them down into smaller steps. Write down the things you can start working on now and the things to do later. When goals are broken down into smaller chunks, it’s a lot easier to work on them instead of feeling too overwhelmed to begin.
We don’t live in little boxes by ourselves. Each of us has other people that we influence and interact with. When you make goals, it is important to discuss them with the people in your lives whether that be a spouse, parent, or other authority figure in your life. Compare notes with them, and get their feedback on what you are planning. Find out what their goals are and get their counsel.
Then, share your goals with them so that they can help to hold you accountable. Discussing goals with someone else is a great way to get motivation. You might want to set up regular meetings where you can look over the progress that has been made and think of new ways to make further progress.
5. Put into Practice
Don’t wait! Go ahead and start working on your goals. Your long-term goals may seem a little overwhelming, but don’t let that discourage you. Choose one small task that you can start on right away. Pray and ask for the Lord’s strength and then get busy! And don’t just do it once. Make it a habit to work away at your goals a little at a time. You would be surprised how much different 5 or 10 minutes a day can make when done consistently.
4. Does Simple Live Make Planning Easier?
The simple answer is”YES!” Simple living is a very important part of the planning process. Why is that? Well, I think that when our lives are too full and we don’t have time to think, we are usually too busy surviving the present moment to look at the big picture. This means that we can get stuck in a rut and do a lot of things without thinking about why we are doing them or if we should be doing something different.
One way that I know I am too busy is if I don’t have time to use my planner! I think that if I don’t even have or make time to plan what I should be doing, then I need to slow down. After all, it’s not a very productive way to spend my time if I don’t even take time to make sure I am doing the most important things.
Simple living doesn’t usually happen overnight. It’s a conscious choice of eliminating unnecessary activities and focusing on what is truly important. Now, that doesn’t mean cutting out everything that is fun. Far from it! In fact, one of the most important activities is spending time with your family doing fun things together.
So, if the thought of setting goals seems overwhelming to you, why not try eliminating half an hour of other activities? Take that half-hour and use it to do some planning. Evaluate how you are currently using your time, and make goals for the future to help shape how you use your time going forward.
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- It is important to have goals. They can help to keep you from drifting through life without accomplishing the most important things.
- Start setting goals today. Large or small, it is important to have things that you are working toward. Pray about and think through these goals, write them down, discuss them with the authorities in your life, and then start taking baby steps toward getting them done.
- Simplify your life so that you have time to actually work on the most important things, such as your goals. It’s okay to write down a lot of goals, but don’t try to work on them all at once. Keep it simple!
Do you plan goals? Are they short-term? Long-term? Both? Do you have a goal planning tip to share? Or do want to share one of your goals with us?
Until next time, pray, plan, and put into practice the things God is calling you to do!