Life by Design

Jul 14, 2009, Written by Sue Miley

Where are you on the life and work satisfaction scale?  Are you feeling that you have finally arrived at the destiny you have been working so hard for?  Are energetically pursuing your calling and God’s plan for your life?  Or, are things just going “okay” on a day to day basis?  If you are like I was five years ago, neither passion nor peace has come knocking in awhile.  Are you are just getting by?

To get a true feel for where you are in your life satisfaction and significance quotient, answer the following questions:

  1. Do you feel like your relationship with God is a little distant and at times feel disconnected?
  2. Do you feel that you are working at a job, and it pays the bills, but you are not making a significant contribution to the world, your community, or even the people you work with?
  3. Do you come home at night wondering what you accomplished today?
  4. Are you playing tag team parent with your spouse just to cover the bases?
  5. Are you able to enjoy the time you spend with your spouse and children, or do you find that you are distracted thinking about the other things that you need to get done?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may want to consider that this may be the time for you to put a plan together for the life you want to lead.  More importantly, for the life God wants you to lead.

After neglecting my family, pursuing worldly success, and completely ignoring God in my life, He helped me anyway. All He said was “I have been waiting for you.  I am so glad you are here.  The plans I have for you…..”  It is so incredibly humbling to see how God can use anyone, even someone as caught up in this world as I was.   He helped me to find the real me.  The person who wants to help other people.  The woman who needs friends and family.  The kid who wished she had played tennis and rode horses.  God freed me from my irrational beliefs about success and significance.  And He has provided for me even at this late date.  At 40, I am still a work in progress, but I am at least on the path now.  God is amazing.  And believe me, if you answered “yes” to any of the questions at the beginning of this article, I can promise you that He is waiting for you too.  With open arms.

So how do you go about doing your part in accepting the change God has in mind for you?

  1. Find your authentic self. The first thing I would do is to start keeping a daily journal to God.  This is a Dear God (I want to share my life with you) Journal.  You don’t need a gratitude journal, a prayer journal, a venting journal, etc.  You just need one Dear God Journal.  God wants to share our lives with us.  Let Him be a part of it all.  Use this journal to begin to get to know “you.”  Start writing about yourself.  Who you are.  Who you want to be.  What are you frustrated about?  What are your dreams?  Ask God to help you to find your authentic self.  In the first few weeks just write what comes to mind.  This is called “stream of consciousness” writing.  Pray to God to reveal His plans to you.  Tell Him that you want to know His plans and that you want to have enough faith to trust Him and follow His plan.  Writing in a journal 3 or 4 times a week will help you to get closer to God and to learn more about yourself. 
  2. Eliminate hurry from your life. I read in a couple of books, most recently The Life You Always Wanted, by John Ortberg, about relentlessly eliminating hurry from your life.  Most of us are swept away by the busyness of our life that we don’t even have time to figure out how our lives got this way.  But God did not plan for us to just rush through this life.  What is the point of it if we are just hurrying from activity to activity without enjoying or providing significant input into any?  My advice is to start slow.  You want to be successful on this one!  Obviously you are not going to go from a scattered storm to a calm and peaceful existence overnight.  Start with simple things like leaving on time to get to a scheduled appointment so that you are not feeling like your blood pressure is going to explode when the traffic is congested.  Say “no” for a few weeks to new commitments just so you can catch up and see what is making you so busy.  Start simple and keep going. 
  3. Start with a blank slate. If you could start all over what would your life look like today?  (Of course you have to work with main components – like your spouse and kids have to stay!)  Would you be in the job you are in?  Would it even be in the same field?  Would you have your kids in 3 different activities each that you needed to be in 6 or 9 different places every week?  Where would church rank in importance?  Friends?  Are you having any fun?  This is the time to start laying out your life.  The one you want to live.   DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF YET WITH BARRIERS.  Most barriers are self-imposed and there are ways around them.  I said “most,” not “all.”  But at this stage try not to limit yourself.  If I can go from a Corporate VP to a Christian Counselor, believe me, a lot of barriers can be knocked down. 
  4. Get sound advice. Now you hopefully have an idea about the person you want to be and how you want your life to be.  The hard part, and where some people give up, is figuring out how to get there 
  5. Don’t limit your time to get there. It took awhile to get where you are.  Give yourself time to get to where you want to be.
  6. Find objective people to help you knock down barriers. Maybe a pastor, a counselor/coach, or an objective friend.  Many friends and family can not be objective so you must be discerning in these choices.
  7. Step out of your comfort zone. To do something you really want to do may require hard work or short-term sacrifice to be able to get it.  Even if it is your family who has to participate in the sacrifice, in the long-run it will be a better life for them also.
  8. And most importantly, pray to God to give you guidance and direction every step of the way.

I had to make a conscious change in the way I viewed the world and lived in the world.  It started with Christ.  I needed to stop looking to this world for success because the world doesn’t care about me.  Jesus promised to always be with me.   And then He went to work in my life.  Reading His word, praying and following his guidance I was able to change my life and find the personal satisfaction I longed for.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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