Planning your day is easier than planning your life. But sometimes it’s important to think down the road, big picture, full throttle!
I know what you’re thinking. “You can’t always control the future and you know what they say about the ‘best laid plans.’ (they often go awry).” True but it’s better to meddle in your future than just be swept along.
In 1933, Disney artist, Webb Smith, began thinking through a story called, “Three Little Pigs.” He drew pig poses, each a little different, and hung them up on the walls of a garage. Standing in the center he turned slowly and watched them move.
The first moving picture was born! Well not exactly; Moving pictures date back to pre-1900. But the planning of moving pictures began with Disney. Storyboarding is a planning tool that helps a moviemaker visualize what might happen in a story, sequence by sequence.
What if this were applied to our lives? What are the steps that are necessary for our lives to move forward in a way that reaches God’s desired outcome? Here are five hacks that I’ve found helpful…
Make Planning Fun!
To start, put away every memory you have of grinding toward your future – and find the fun that works for you. Many of my best plans over the years were drafted with a pencil on a napkin. I love scripting dreams on a blank slate. These days I record thoughts on my phone while walking.
My wife and I often team up on long drives to hash out the future. Topics range from ministry to family gatherings to career and problem solving. We used to do it over coffee but now she drinks tea!
I still love her though.
Find the fun in your future. Add food and friends to the sometimes scary task of looking ahead and enjoy the ride.
Was there ever an occasion when you did something right the first time? Is your first thought always the best thought? Do you make the perfect decision right out of the gate?
Allow me to answer those questions for you: No!
Flexibility and the future go together. Like bumper cars we cruise on in spite of the obstacles to get to where we want to go. Either that or we crash and burn.
My past is littered with failures and flaws. But there was a time when those were in the future and I had to decide which way to go. Those bad decisions (I made a few good ones) became lessons that taught me, a) I’m only human and, b) Don’t expect perfection the first time – or ever.
Actually there was a third lesson: God’s plan for my life is perfect and he will compensate for my failures.
Unless you’re a Neanderthal you’ve learned that much of your life consists of meeting the needs of others. Three years of our lives were devoted to my mom when she suffered from Alzheimer’s. It was not the future we planned or hoped for, but we were available when the time came.
Oddly these were three of the hardest and best years of my life. My mom, in her dependency, taught me about myself and proved that it really is “more blessed to give than to receive.”
Until you stop seeing the needy around you as distractions and instead, as part of your life’s purpose, you will never be fully human. The decision to cross the bridge into someone else’s life may lead you to the place God has for you.
Be Willing to Act
The past is easy. You know what happened and why; you have pictures, memories and do-overs.
The future is harder. There is a blank space in front of you without footsteps or a history. Every dream and decision you make will create the present and the past. It’s no wonder why we sometimes hesitate going forward!
Indecision can be a stresser. The decision to act, to take a step, is freeing. The worst that can happen is failure, and God can even use those to make you wiser and stronger.
Be Focused on the Eternal
There’s a great story in the Old Testament. Elijah the prophet and his servant are surrounded by an angry army poised to kill them. His servant is rattled so Elijah prays that God would open his eyes. What he saw were the hills around them filled with horses and chariots of fire.
Make a note: God is with you when you are with him. He is both real and ready to act.
Hindsight is 20/30. It’s not perfect but it brings clarity. Looking back you see your old footsteps and standing where you are, you begin to see down the road.