by Tom O’Neil - Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”
Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
As a career specialist and life coach, I am always surprised how so many people just ‘stumble through life’ with no plan or foresight in terms of their work, career, purpose or vision. These same people will spend weeks and weeks planning the purchase of a second-hand car, while spending literally no time in terms of what their future could look like.
As Christians, it’s also imperative we genuinely seek God’s will for our lives, not just keep rocking through life week after week ‘hoping’ for the best. Therefore what are some practical ways we can seek God’s will for our lives and find our way forward?
Big Three -
Firstly we must seek the Holy Spirit for His guidance in terms of His plan for our life. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” In my experience, we can do this in three keyways:
1. Reading the Bible
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Regularly seeking God through His word is key. However prior to jumping in, ask the Lord to give you His wisdom and understanding in terms of your future, and for Him to inspire you in His plans for your life.
Romans 12:12 says, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
We can’t expect the Lord to speak to us, if our lifestyle means we don’t set aside any time to listen to Him. Regularly take a short amount of time (5 to 10 minutes) and just speak to God about your future and the vision He has for you.
3. Wise Counsel
Proverbs 19:20 says “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”
Mature people of God who have faced challenges and come through the other side are vital to talk to and gain wisdom from.
From a coaching perspective, we can also prayerfully complete a range of exercises, which will help us start to form a bigger picture of our future and vision.
EXERCISE ONE - THE COMPASS© LIFE CLOCK©
Step One – Key Life Areas
For this exercise, choose between 5-8 key ‘Life Areas’ to wish to assess. Suggested examples include: Faith, Finances, Health, Career, Children, Friends, Lifestyle, Fun, Family, Marriage, Challenge, Joy.
Step Two – Life Area Importance
Write down how important (not successful you are) each life area is to you based on a scale of 1 to 10. (10=best). (You can also have different ‘Life Areas’ valued the same).
Step Three – Life Area Success
Prayerfully think about each ‘Life Area’ and write down (again 1-10 scale) how successful you feel you are in this area. Questions to ask yourself include: Do I feel good about where I am in terms of this Life Area? What challenges am I facing in this area? Can I do better here?
Step Four – Measuring Up
Obviously the bigger the gap between your Life Area Importance and your Life Area Success determines how much work you need to put in to rectify the balance.
You now have a framework to judge the key areas in your life, then assess your personal level of success against each of them.
EXERCISE TWO – WHAT IS SUCCESS TO ME?
For each of your key ‘Life Areas’, prayerfully write down a few bullet points per area of what you feel your successful life would look like in ten years’ time. For example:
Finances: I own my own house. I am debt free.
Faith: I have a 30-minute prayer time every day, I run a business prayer group.
Heath: I run two marathons a year. I go to the doctor every 12 months for a check-up.
Marriage: My wife and I are celebrating 30 years marriage. We regularly have a date night once a week.
Career: I am doing a role that is honouring God, is personally fulfilling and meets my strengths. I have a new business / trade qualification.
EXERCISE THREE – SMARTA GOALS
Set some short, medium and long term SMARTA goals for each of these Life Areas. SMARTA goals mean:
Specific - A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal.
Measurable - Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.
Attainable - You can attain almost any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps.
Relevant - Your goals must be relevant for your life. Therefore remember that each goal can be refined or even deleted as your life changes.
Timely - A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there is no sense of urgency.
Accountable - According to Dr Gail Matthews, you have a higher chance of achieving a goal if you are accountable to someone else. For example: Save $9,000 for your friends overseas wedding on 1 March 2023 (Accountable to Carl). Pay off credit card of $6,000 by the 28 February 2023 (Accountable to Steve).
EXERCISE FOUR - START NOW!
Many people work hard to set out and then develop S.M.A.R.T. goals for their life. However these goals too often then end up in the bottom drawer and are never seen again…
It’s vital you now write down 5 to 10 things you can do this month to start actively achieving some of the goals you have set down. For example: Finding out exactly (to the last cent) what is owed on the credit card. Finding out how many more months you have until your mortgage is 'rolled over'. Going for that first run of one mile (remember start small - if you try and achieve massive goals immediately you may get discouraged and stop working towards them). Swallowing your pride and phoning a relative you may have lost contact with over a disagreement.
Reflecting on the Future
Our Lord wants to speak to us about our future and the plans He has for our lives. Let’s take some time to pursue Him, prayerfully assessing our lives through God’s lens, and seeking His perfect and wonderful will for our future.
Tom O'Neil is a PK speaker and former PK board member, life coach, career specialist and Managing Director of CV.CO.NZ