I adore the power of a new year. Who am I kidding? I adore the power of a brand new week! All that untapped potential, it’s like magic waiting to be unleashed, promises just waiting to be whispered.
And so as we end 2019 and are promised not just a new year but a whole new decade, can you imagine how that makes my little heart pitter-patter?
Except when it doesn’t.
Because I’ve been around the block enough times to face every new year with just a mild touch of cynicism.
The eternal optimist in me wants to believe that this time it will be different, that this time all those dreams and plans and ambitions will come to fruition.
The journey God’s taken me on over the last twelve months, the way He and I are finally (finally!) building this thing together, I have to believe that means something, that this time it will be different.
But there’s just so much pressure to make it count!
Maybe you can relate? Maybe you too have seen the slew of inspirational quotes on Instagram designed to excite you to action with the promise that a new decade will bring new and exciting opportunities? Do you secretly worry to yourself, “but what if it doesn’t?”
Know this … you are not alone!
There are a few different things I feel called to share with you. Some of it will inspire you, leave you believing (like me) that yes, it can be different this time around. But some of it is simply a reminder to be kind to yourself, to ease the pressure a little.
Let’s consider first what a difference a decade can make.
Once you hit your mid-thirties, time speeds up. (Okay, no, this hasn’t been scientifically proven, yet. But never say never. That’s all I’m going to say on that.) As such, you worry that this next decade will be over in the blink of an eye. And yes, held up against the tapestry of all of time and space, we’re like the speck of dust on top of a speck of dust on top of the head of a pin!
But we don’t measure time like that.
Take my eldest daughter by way of example and consider the difference a decade can make.
She’s 16. In a decade she’ll be 26. When I was 16, like her, I’d just done my GCSE exams and had the whole of life ahead of me. By the time I was 26, I was married with two children!
The difference between the person I was at 16 and the mother I was at 26 is so much bigger than the word “decade” can communicate. And you could argue that my husband and I chose to start a family young but I was 24 when I had my first baby. That’s not actually that young!
Try telling my 16-year old that a decade is nothing and she’ll laugh you out of the room!
My point is this … yes, it’s great to harness the power and motivation of a brand new decade and if the last few years have been particularly tough, I can absolutely see the appeal of joyfully celebrating a fresh, new decade but …
If the prospect of a new decade is causing you to spiral downwards, it’s time to take the pressure off.
Find a way to remember that any day and every day is the best day to make a start on being the person God made you to be and it starts by putting one foot in front of the other.
With that said, if like me you’re keen to ditch the cynicism and actually make this next decade coun, you’ve come to the right place my friend.
Here are five reminders, complete with links to places where you can dig deeper into the pieces that nudge you:
Dream with God.
Before you were ever a twinkle in your mother’s eye, God knew you. Even earlier than that, all the way back when He spoke the very world into existence, He had a plan and a purpose for your life.
Sometimes though it can feel like those dreams are nothing more than a figment of your imagination. Maybe you’ve spent the best part of a decade going round in circles and you’re frustrated and ready to give up?
It’s time to sit with the Father and dig into His dreams for you, His plans and purpose for your life. Ask Him what the next decade looks like. Allow Holy Spirit to whisper into your soul. Dreaming was never meant to be a solo endeavour. You’re not called to do this on your own.
And if you need practical, guided support as you dream, I can recommend nothing and no-one more highly than Dr. Tony Robinson and her Master Dream Academy. The next round starts February 3rd and early-bird registration is open right now.
Make a plan with God.
If you’ve read my little goal-setting book Youier Goal Setting, you’ll know I’m a big advocate of creating goals you actually want to get done, goals based on real-life, goals that allow you to embrace the person God made you to be.
As wonderful as dreaming with God is, if you stop there you’re missing out on all the wonder God has for you. Because yes, God is the God of dreams but He also loves specificity. There’s a reason, for example, why there are so many names in the bible. Individuals matter. Specificity matters.
So dream with God and then make a plan.
And if you need help going from big picture to 90 days to weekly and even daily planning, grab yourself a copy of Youier Goal Setting and then head over to my freebies page to get access to the Itchy Soul Freebies Library where you’ll find some great resources that will help!
Beware of “filling in the gaps”
During one of the first calls for the Master Dream Academy, Dr. Tony introduced the concept of “filling in the gaps” and, when she did, it landed in my gut like the proverbial tonne of bricks!
Here’s what happens … you get a God-given idea, get really excited because it feels concrete and actionable and something you can run with. And so run with it you do and before you know it, you’ve taken what God’s given you and added in answers to questions God wasn’t even asking!
Real-life example? Youier By Design, the core training in the Itchy Soul Playground. I have a lovely neat outline for the Your Games that make up the training in the Playground but had been experiencing some resistance around finishing recording the accompanying videos.
As uncomfortable as it is to admit out loud, with the benefit of beautiful hindsight I can absolutely see how I “filled in the gaps” with Youier By Design. Instead of going with the lead of Holy Spirit, it was much more comfortable to list everything out, plan and prepare.
And planning is great, please don’t misunderstand me, but planning with God is key.
Find and claim the promises God has for you.
One of my favourite pieces of brain science is the reticular activating system. It’s a collection of neurons at the back of your brain that does a load of different things but, for our purposes today, the most interesting thing it does is act as a filter.
If you were to consciously notice every single piece of information that comes into your day you’d go crazy – or be paralyzed into inaction! Instead, your brain filters what you notice, choosing to show you only those pieces it deems important.
Consider what happened when you found out that you or someone you care about is expecting a baby … you started seeing people with prams all over the place, right? “Baby” was all of a sudden deemed important and your brain filtered in examples to match.
Here’s where things get really interesting …
As you work with God towards those dreams He has for you, you can use the way God’s wired your brain to help make things a little easier.
Ask God to help you find examples of His promises to you, both in the bible and in day to day life. By surrounding yourself with those reminders, you signal to your brain that those things are important and your brain will start to filter in more and more reminders. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy!
And if you need help with finding and claiming those promises, this is something we love to play with in the Itchy Soul Playground. Click here to find out more and join us.
Keep on, keeping on with God.
Every day in the Playground I release a little inspirational missive. Part bible-study, part writing prompt, these daily offerings are God-led. As such, when the same idea keeps popping up in different contexts, I see that as a clear nudge from God that the thing that is coming up is important to Him.
There’s a precedent for this. Time and time again in the bible we read of God saying something, only to repeat what He said just a couple of verses later.
And this month, the nudge I keep hearing, time and again in different contexts, is the importance of relationship. We were made for love. Created in God’s image, even when He knew things would go awry, we’ve been loved on from the very beginning.
But God’s love is not distant or aloof. He’s not like a great-uncle you only see once a year and who knows nothing about you. God cares for you, intimately and specifically, and He wants to spend every moment in relationship with you.
Whatever comes up, moment by moment, day by day, do all of it with God, you and Him, taking on the decade!
And that’s the underlying reminder behind all of this: with God.
It was my nan’s legacy, “Whatever else you do, live every day with Jesus.”
And remember, it’s less about the what and all about the who: Who you are becoming not what you’re doing.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life- and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”Romans 12:1-2
And so as you enter this brand new decade, you might think you’re the “same old you” but God helping you, it doesn’t have to be “same old, same old” or “business as usual”.
Open your heart for those God-inspired dreams, walk forward one day at a time with Jesus, and God-helping us, together let’s enter this new decade with excitement and anticipation.
And if you know you’d do better in community (because let’s be honest, who doesn’t do better in community?!?) consider this your invitation to join the Itchy Soul Playground. ItchySoul.co/join to find out more and join us. I can’t wait to start a gif welcome train in your honour! (Totally not kidding!)