You've probably heard of people who have a five-year-plan. And a ten-year-plan. And other lofty plans bound by a time frame, as a way to measure if they've reached their goals. I have been asked about my five-year-plan by other goal-getters, and I have read books that encourage entrepreneurs to plan out their next half decade.
This all sounds so great in theory.
But it's been 10 years since I graduated from high school, and never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself here. Not because I'm in some grand glorious spot, but actually because I'm not. I thought my life would be more exciting, I thought I'd be richer, I thought I'd be further along in life than I am. I never imagined I'd still be living at home, working a job unrelated to my college degree, unmarried, with 3 of my 4 siblings already wed. I recently found myself growing increasingly discouraged with my state in life. I looked ahead to the next 5 and 10 years and didn't know what to picture. A dear mentor of mine often says, "Everything in life can and will change." This is both comforting and scary. If my life hasn't gone as planned so far, why bother planning?
Lest you think I'm encouraging you to throw goals out the window and fly by the seat of your pants, I actually want you to set your goals yet higher than a typical five-year-plan. I decided that even though I can't fabricate a husband and countryside cottage for myself, or pull money magically out of a hat, or travel as often as my imagination wanders, there are definitely some things I want to be true of me in 5 years.
My values will likely look different from yours. And you may laugh out loud when you read mine, because you don't see them as the tiniest reflection of who I am today (and I concur; these are my goals, not my default setting).
In fact, some of the traits in this list are things that I was told by others that I could never be, because they are so contrary to my natural personality (empathy, I'm looking at you). And for a few years, I bowed down to the lies hurled at me, believing that I had already maxed out my capacity in these areas.
However, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13)
With that in mind, in five years when I look back on my life, I'd like to be able to say the following things are more true of me than they were five years prior:
I want to be a generous person, able to give freely and selflessly without strings attached or expectations of reciprocation. I don't want to work myself into the ground to have a certain dollar amount in the bank, because money has a way of growing wings and disappearing. But I can be a generous person who invests wisely in God's work and in the lives of others.
"There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it."Proverbs 11:24-26
I want to be empathetic, able to recognize needs in others and truly step into their skin, understanding their inner feelings and able to sit with them in their pain without jumping in with a quick-fix solution.
"Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another."Romans 12:15-16a
I want to be a woman who knows God personally, not just as a show or only on good days, but to have a deep and full knowledge of God. I want to look back and realize that I've spent most of my days both running toward God and dwelling quietly with Him. I know there are days I'll feel like quitting, and there may be days when I do quit, but I can always start again and continue.
"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: ... That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death."Philippians 3:8,10
I still want to be in church. That church may be the one I've grown up in, or it may be one on foreign soil, but in 5 years, when the Sunday morning doors swing open, I'll be inside.
"Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."1 Corinthians 4:2
I want to be emotionally stable and founded in God, able to offer support and love out of a heart that doesn't harbor pettiness or bitter feelings.
"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive."Ephesians 4:14
I want to be a learner. I want to read books, study new topics, listen to experts, and be willing to admit my own errors in order to learn the truth. Not just to accumulate knowledge, but to grow and change and help others do the same.
"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."2 Peter 3:18
I want to be able to trace God's hand at work in my life, through the ups and downs, and be able to tell of specific instances where He has answered prayers for me and provided for me.
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."Philippians 1:6
I want to be able to chart upward spiritual growth through more knowledge of God, more strategic times of prayer, more godly friendships, more studying to show myself approved unto God.
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."2 Timothy 2:15
I want to have time-tested friendships, which means that today I will make choices FOR my friends. I will invest time and tears. I will give them oodles of grace because I'm sure as we traverse these next few years, I'll need grace from them as well.
"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."Proverbs 18:24
I want to exude kindness effortlessly, yet credit it all to God. I am naturally a very harsh and unkind person, and each time I respond to a situation with kindness, it feels unnatural because it is. It is not naturally me, it is all God. I want His kindness to flow through me with regularity and become a habit, but not so much of a habit that I rely on myself instead of Him.
"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."Philippians 2:13
I want to cheer on the women around me. I can think of many instances where the support of a close friend has rallied me through hard times. I want to be that friend to others who encourages and comforts.
"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."Proverbs 27:17
What's on your list? Or do you intend to be the same person in five years?
The goodness of God led Amanda to repentance when she was a 12-year-old girl, and despite a heart prone to wander, He daily draws her to Himself. She continues to attend Lehigh Valley Baptist Church where she was raised, and enjoys sharing digital art and snippets of what God is teaching her on her Instagram account (@amandaangrrr). When Amanda isn’t working her day-job of managing an insurance agency, she is likely to be found trying a new local restaurant, sipping a coffee delicacy, learning something from a podcast or audio book, or finding an excuse to show off pictures of her nieces & nephews.
Go, Mandi Sue! I love you and who you are!
These are my five-year goals, too!! I might be a few years ahead of you – well, a few decades – but these are ageless goals. 🙂 Thanks, Amanda!
I love reading your posts. I can see how God has and is working in you. Very encouraging. Paula Williams
What an awesome encouragement, Amanda!!! Thank you! Love you!