June 17, 2010

Setting Goals

I woke up today as usual -- to my baby kitten playing with my hand. This is his way of getting "Mama Cat" up to feed him. It was about 5:45 so I thought I would go ahead and get up. His eye looks better (PTL!) and I am feeling less anxious about taking him in to the vet this morning. He got pounced on over the weekend and his eye puffed up and looked pretty red and raw. I took him in to the vet on Monday and they said it was OK, just sore. They prescribed some antibiotic ointment -- just in case. I was fearful yesterday because he obviously wasn't feeling well -- sleepy and not wanting to play much. His eye looked very red last evening. This am it is less inflamed, still a bit weepy, but definitely less swollen. The Dr. said to give it 3-4 days and she was correct. Hooray!

So here I am blogging, drinking my cup of coffee and thinking about my future. There is so much on my plate right now, and I have been in such a stuck place for so long. BTW - I am listening to Breval's Sonata in C Major, Opus 40 No. 1 Allegro -- a piece I hope to play one day (from Suzuki Cello Book 4). It is so beautiful, and I love it with the piano accompaniant.

Anyhoo, as I think about my goals for the future, this is one of them (playing at level 4). I also am thinking of other goals, more practical ones and ones that will help me establish myself as a self-sufficient person. Thus far this year, I have solely focused on getting a job, any job. My hope had been to find something at the community college because that is where I would like to work once I finish my Master's degree. I have tried and tried and tried to get into the District, but it is nearly impossible. I have heard that this is the case from friends who work there. They have told me that it can take years of applying before you are finally considered for any job. It is very much the "who you know" process -- despite the fact that they do no personal interviewing (all computer). You still have to be part of the inner circle to get past the front door. I have applied through several other companies too, also in higher education, but nothing has come of those positions as well. You'd think I would take a hint -- perhaps higher education is not where the Lord wants me? I am not so sure about that yet. I mean I feel confident that I am to go to graduate school and some of those plans require that I be in "higher education." I think if it was not necessary, then the Lord would let me know. Therefore, I am seeking this avenue first; but am willing to consider other fields should a job come up that would meet my skills and experience.

My goals are pretty simple on paper:
  • Get a good job so I can pay my bills and such
  • Go to graduate school (Mercy College first, then Regent University)
  • Find a house to rent/lease/own so I can be on my own
  • Get a second car (so my son can drive himself to college)
  • Continue to study cello, Bible, language and all the other things the Lord has laid on my heart to learn, and do
  • Continue to care for my parents and parents-in-laws as best I can and within the time I have to give
  • Get involved in missions work (through my church first, then other ministries)
  • Be a good Mom (always first) and help my son transition to college classes

These are just the bulleted items. I also have financial planning goals, retirement to think about, health concerns (long needed dental work, etc.) I would also like to include some travel opportunities (Israel, Egypt, Europe to start), but these are things solely dependent on the Lord's provision for me. I am trusting that if He wants me to pursue travel, then He will provide a way for me to do it. For now, I am concentrating on the big items on the "to-do" list.

As I think about goal setting, one thing I am conscious of is the kind of goal I set and the feasibility of meeting it. There is no point in setting a goal so high that you cannot possibly hope to attain it. However, high goals are worthy pursuits so long as you develop a working plan that practically addresses each step and moves you closer and closer to achieving said goal. This is what I am trying to do now. I have some immediate goals and some long-term goals in mind. The immediate ones will come to pass -- they are simply a matter of timing and money. Once I have these settled, then I can focus on the more long-term goals, those that will require significant planning and then persistence to come to pass. I am talking about finishing graduate study, becoming accomplished on the cello, learning foreign languages, and studying the Bible in depth. These are goals that span many years and will require devotion to achieve them. I know I can do them all, it is just something I have to commit to doing and then not give in or up when the mood strikes. I am pretty confident that I will not do that, but you never know what life might bring, so it is wise to keep unplanned events and circumstances always in view.

Now as I plan out my life, chart the path I think the Lord wants me to walk, I am considerate of where I have been, how I got there (and this far), and the mistakes I made along the way. You can never succeed in life without some measure of failure, and mistakes often are miscalculations taken either as a last resort or without deeper scrutiny or careful consideration. I don't want to live with regrets, and to avoid regrets (as far as possible), one must take seriously every opportunity presented, weigh it carefully, and test it to see if it aligns with God's will (personally and corporately). Once the decision is made, then one must put on the attitude that each task is critical and necessary and must be completed to the best of one's ability. It is only with this mindset that we can truly live without regret. Decisions made in haste or for the wrong reason are the number one cause of regret. Think buyers remorse -- where you purchase something without due diligence and then think "Oh, no...What have I done?" Bishop T.D. Jakes speaks about due diligence in his book, "Before You Do" (well worth the read -- it is easy reading). I like the way he approaches everything, he and I must have similar personalities. I am also a person who carefully examines my way before I go -- but I will admit that I have made numerous mistakes all because I didn't do the due diligence or I was pressured into making a decision in haste. I have determined that from this point on, I will do neither. I am not saying I will always take forever to make up my mind, no; I am saying that there is nothing wrong with careful, slow planning that takes into consideration as many possible pitfalls as possible (knowing you can never be fully protected -- but you can be prepared).

Well, that is the crux of my new attitude: do everything with careful attention and due diligence. The old saying, "If it smells fishy, then it is probably a fish" is true. Be careful the Word says, "Be soberminded" we are told. I think we are told to be sober more times than not so God must know that we tend to be rash and haphazard. 1 Peter 1:13 (ESV) says:

"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Sober minded simply means to be serious. The Word is telling us that we need to take everything we do seriously, to be cautious and careful. I don't see that as a bad thing at all. If more people were to take the decisions that they make, from whom to marry to how to spend the money God graciously gives them, how better off they (and we as a community of believers) would be.

Well, that is my post for this day. I want to be sober minded, careful and cautious in the decisions and choices I make. Some decisions are for life, some are a matter of life and death. Let us all remember that taking the time to be careful only will result in better choices and living without regret.

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