New Season, New You?

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— Luke 14:28

The new year is upon us and once again we have started to hear all of the usual phrases such as "finish strong," "new year, new me," "out with the old, in with the new," "I'm ready for a fresh start," and the like. But how many of these phrases are merely declarations with no action plans in sight? They all sound really positive and hopeful, but where are the preparations and strategies needed to make these dreams a reality?

So many people are hoping for a fresh start in the new year financially, physically, professionally, relationally, spiritually, etc. just like they did last year. But I am afraid that the same lack of preparation will bring in the same lack of results. We're praying and declaring, but who is actually preparing and positioning themselves for this new beginning of which they speak?

We often like to quote the verse "write the vision and make it plain," (Habakkuk 2:2) but then we stop there. We either never really write the vision, or we make a list of ideas and never develop strategies and goals to accomplish them. For some of us who actually write the vision, goals, and strategies, we run out of steam 1-3 months into our race. We simply underestimated the amount of work, resources, and endurance we would need for the journey, and usually end up giving up before achieving the new life we so proudly boasted about at the beginning of the year. 

I know this might sound a little tough, but I want you to live your best life in the next year. I want you to position yourself to achieve the desires of your heart. No more naming and claiming it. No more posting by faith, slacking behind the scenes. If you're going to obtain the promises that you're praying for, you must plan and prepare for them. Like the main verse says, who builds a tower without first considering the cost? This "new" whatever you're claiming and proclaiming, is going to cost you something. Before the month is over, I want you to do a couple of things...

1. Evaluate what went well, what went wrong, what you accomplished, what you left unfinished, what you lost, and what you gained this year. Yes, it really does take all of that. If you don't evaluate how you got to where you are, how will you know what adjustments to make?

2. Write down what you want your life to look like at the end of next year. Include relational, physical, financial, professional, travel, networking, spiritual goals, etc. in detail. Don't just say you want to make more money, say you want a $10k salary increase, for instance. It must be quantifiable and specific (think SMART goals).

3. For all of your goals listed, write down what it's going to take for you to accomplish those goals. It could be making 1 new connection per month, or getting a professional license, or creating a new eating and exercise plan, spending only 2 hours a day on social media (most of us could use that!), end a relationship, or whatever pertains to you. Again, you must be specific, and you must count the cost!

4. Assign dates to every goal that you have created. I love having so many features on my smartphone, but there is just something about having a old school planner to write down all of my goals and track my progress. I recommend that you get one, so that you can hold yourself accountable, and make adjustments where necessary. 

5. Pick somebody that you trust to share your goals with. Plan to meet with that person monthly or quarterly to discuss your progress, and theirs too. You much more likely to be successful when you have an accountability partner. This is not the time to hide behind your own dreams, play the introvert card, etc. That could be why you are not farther along that you already are. You are simply too isolated and private. 

6. Pray for endurance. Listen no matter how things look on paper, in your mind, dreams, etc., we all know that life happens. But that does not give us an excuse to quit. That simply means, we know the journey will not be perfect when we set out. When we get knocked down, we get back up, when we get tired, we rest and then keep going, when we lose, we focus on the next win, and so on and so forth. You owe it to yourself to live your best life, and you are going to need the strength and endurance to get to the finish line. 

I'll stop there. I have given you more than enough to consider and to do. I know there will be those of you who simply read this, and keep right on going with your regularly scheduled programming. I will not be surprised if this time next year, your story has barely changed. Then there will be others of you who are simply tired of hoping, wishing, and dreaming, and will actually put in the work and effort to make your life different. And the end of the day, it really is only up to you. So what will you choose? Another new year, but the same you? Or will you grab the bull by the horns this time, put your faith to work, put your dreams on paper, put your goals and strategies in place, and go after everything you've hoped for? It's already in you, it's time to get out.

I hope you have the most productive week ever!

Arianne

P.s. My new book "Guardian Rules: 30 Lessons to Help you Live Your Best Life," is now available on Amazon.com! You can purchase your copy here.

P.s.s. Let's stay connected! Subscribe, and make sure you connect with me via Instagram, Periscope, and Twitter @ariannemockabee. 

Gratitude: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

"in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Love is in the air, the nights have become colder and longer, and the holiday season is officially upon us. While for some, this may feel like it's "the most wonderful time of the year," but for others, not so much. Losing loved ones, still waiting to find love or for love to find you, the disappointment of unaccomplished goals, family feuds, etc. is enough to send anyone into a funk. If we are not careful, we can quickly lose the very heart of the matter of what the holiday season really means. 

It is a time to celebrate and show our gratitude, not just for what God has done, but in anticipation for what He is going to do in the upcoming year.  It is a time to spread love, peace, and joy. So naturally, the enemy would love nothing more than to rain on all of our parades! He does this by planting seeds of bitterness, resentment, jealousy, loneliness, grief, fear, and doubt into our minds. He tries to make us focus on our failures, rather than our successes, on our losses, rather than our wins, on what we don't have, rather than what we do have. He would love nothing more than to ruin this season of thankfulness and cheer. 

So how do we combat the enemy's antics? We follow the instructions in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 which tells us to give thanks in everything. It does not say to give thanks in some things, or when we feel like it, or only after someone gives us a gift or word of encouragement. It tells us to give thanks in everything, because it is the will of God in Christ. That means that it is God's desire for us to find something to be grateful for no matter the situations in which we may find ourselves, or what lies the enemy may throw our way. Why? Because gratitude protects our hearts from becoming calloused and filled with evil. 

When our hearts become hardened, we no longer feel what God wants us to feel, and we are no longer able to give what God wants us to give. He not only wants us to feel His love, peace, joy, contentment, etc., but He also wants us to give those things freely to others. But when we become distracted by the cares of this world, and when we allow the enemy to make us depressed and ungrateful, we have removed God from the throne of our hearts, and placed the enemy there instead. He then controls, or influences, the way that we think, feel, and behave, and why would we give him the satisfaction? Misery loves company, and that is one guest that we should refuse to entertain.

I want to challenge you, not only this week, but in the weeks to come, to set your heart and mind on being grateful in all things. It does not matter how big or small. That does not mean that you walk around in a state of delusion or denial, but it does deny the enemy access to your heart and mind. You can simply be honest with God about how you feel, and immediately follow that with a statement of gratitude. For instance: "Lord, I'm worried about how I'm going to make ends meet, but I thank you for being Jehovah Jireh my provider." "Lord, my family is driving me crazy, but I thank you that I have a family and for your gift of peace." Lord, I feel like a failure, but I thank you for being the God that never fails." 

While it might not seem easy or natural at first, just keep speaking God's truth by the power of His Holy Spirit that is alive in you. Eventually, your heart and mind with align with your spirit, you will notice a difference in your demeanor, and you will probably have a newfound love for the things and people around you. Remember, the more gratitude you are, the more grateful you will become. That is one gift that you cannot afford to live without, and one gift that truly keeps on giving. 

Have a Blessed Week!

Arianne

P.s. My new book "Guardian Rules: 30 Lessons to Help you Live Your Best Life," is now available on Amazon.com! You can purchase your copy here.

P.s.s. Let's stay connected! Subscribe, and make sure you connect with me via Instagram, Periscope, and Twitter @ariannemockabee.