Updated: May 18, 2020
It’s the start of a new year, which always seems like a great time to re-evaluate and reset. For me, this new year also marks the start of a very new season. I recently quit a job I loved so that I can stay home with my kids full-time over the next few years. Anticipating this transition was really hard for me. I’ve come to recognize that I find a lot of my value in what I can achieve and how I can help others. So the idea of not having a job outside my home, not having any specific title other than Mom didn’t seem like enough.
I often struggle with the fear of not doing/being enough. I feel like I should do more. I want to say “yes” to all the things and fill my schedule. I want to meet everybody’s needs. I want to be productive. But part of what led me to this new season was the desire to be present, and it’s hard to be present if I’m being pulled in a million different directions. With that in mind, I wanted to make sure that I start this new season with intentionality and clear vision for how I should be spending my time and what I should commit to.
So I turned to a practice called Roles & Goals that I’ve done each January for the past several years. I learned about this practice while I was working at Solidarity, but it’s something that has been used in different forms by various businesses, churches, and individuals for many years. It’s a simple tool that helps me to establish my priorities for the year by looking at each of the roles I play and what I want to accomplish or focus on within each role.
This is my annual ritual….
I make some space for some silence and solitude – sometimes that’s at park but this year it was on my couch while the kids were sleeping. I take some time to clear my head and connect with God. Then, I ask him what roles he has for me in the year to come, and as certain roles come to mind, I write them down. These roles include relationships I have (such as wife, mother, and friend) and specific responsibilities I hold. I also always include “self” and “child of God” so I can make sure that I’m focusing on taking care of those areas as well. After I have my list of roles, I ask God for one or two goals for each role. Some of those are measurable things like work out at least twice a week and some are more about areas I want to grow in like be present with my kids. I like to write this list in my journal so that I’m able to refer back to it throughout the year and remember where my priorities lie.
Often times, I’m surprised to find that God doesn’t give me quite as many roles as I would come up with on my own. All those “shoulds” in my mind melt away as God gently reminds me that I don’t have to do it all. That was the case this year. My list looks different than past years because there aren’t any formal roles or titles. Instead, in this season, the priorities are my family, connecting with others, and writing. A few months ago that didn’t seem like enough, but as I’m entering into it, I’m so grateful for the simplicity of this season because it frees me up to really focus on those areas that God has called me into. I get to spend a lot of quality time with my kids and enjoy them in this sweet and fleeting time before they’re both in school all day. I get to have time to intentionally connect with friends (which feeds my soul), get to know other moms in my neighborhood, and be available to support the people around me. And I get to use to my voice to speak truth and grace. That’s enough because that is what God has given me to do in this season.
As I’ve gone through this practice over the past few years, there are a few things I have learned…
1) There are a lot of good things that I could be doing. It seems like there are endless needs to be filled. Saying “no” to something does not mean that it’s not good or important. It simply means that it is not what God is calling me to right now. I am human and I have limits. If I try to do everything, I won’t do anything well. So out of all the good things that I could be doing, I have to focus on what God has given me to do.
2) There are other people that can do the work, too. It is not just up to me. We each have our role to play. I might feel like I am the only one who is able or willing, but that is usually not the case. And sometimes, when I get out of the way, it actually allows someone else to step up and be empowered in new ways. And even if I don’t want to admit it, they might do it better.
3) Life is made up of seasons, and each season comes with its own set of unique circumstances. My season as a single adult afforded me a lot more time than my current season as a wife and mom of young kids. And in a few years when my kids are older, my time and responsibilities will look a lot different again. There may be something that is right for one season, but it’s not right for the next. Saying “no” to something does not mean that I will never have the opportunity to do it again. Conversely, just because I say “yes” to something in one season does not mean that I have to do it for the rest of my days.
4) My list of roles is going to look different than those of the people around me, and that is ok. God has created each of us uniquely. We all have different strengths, passions, and talents, and we can use what we have to bring life, beauty, and love into our world. There is no need to compare or feel like my roles are more or less important than anyone else’s.
Recognizing these truths and finding clarity on my roles in each season has brought me so much freedom. If you’re in a new season or just feel overwhelmed or lost about what you should be doing, I encourage you to spend some time thinking through your roles and goals and asking God what he wants you to spend your time on. If you do, I’d love to hear some feedback about how it goes for you.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. – Proverbs 3:5-6