Today marks the 95th day of 2012. Three months gone already in the year. It is the beginning of April, the beginning of a new quarter and the beginning of a new season – a season of newness and freshness. It is the time when life resurrects from the dead. The earth begins reawakening in earnest brightly announcing that spring is here—brilliant yellow canola set to spring out of fallow grounds, and dry dark twiggy trees already transforming, as if overnight, into luscious greens.
It is the time to celebrate the reason we have hope of life in eternity – the ultimate sacrifice, the precious gift of life and redemption. It is an opportunity for rebirth and a new beginning. Transition, transformation and spring’s gleaming freshness, these are but a few of what April represents.
It is also a checkpoint. A time to review the first three months of the year and determine how far we are on course, or off course, in the journey towards fulfilling our dreams and the goals we set at the beginning of the year.
I recall that elected political leaders often mark their 100th day in office. It is a landmark or a reference point for evaluating how they are doing in fulfilling the promises they made to the electorate during the campaigns.
Checkpoints are places along the road where police stop vehicular traffic to perform inspections and ensure adherence to laws and regulations. It is a place to pause in the course of a journey or a race.
At the beginning of the year, I shared a post – Time to Prepare — which was about setting up the platform from which to launch the pursuit of a dream and setting realistic goals that will take us towards our dreams. The beginning of a new quarter and the month of April therefore affords us the opportunity to pause and check where we are in the pursuit of our dreams and goals.
For the purpose of this discussion, checkpoint is the time to subject your activities to review – inspect what you are doing – to ensure that they are taking you towards achieving your dreams and goals in a timely fashion and that you are maintaining your focus.
The benefits of this self-regulated checkpoint include:
· An opportunity to appreciate our goals – pay attention to how attractive the goals and dreams are – and why they are important to us.
· A focus on the path leading us towards achieving our goals – are we on the right path or is the chosen path taking us closer to living our dreams?
· A time to create, if you have not done this already, a graphic image of you achieving your goal—envisioning the endpoint—where you are actually living your dream. Keeping the vision vividly in view will help you to stay on track and minimize distractions. This will also help you to avoid actions that may tempt you to sell out for immediate gratification at the expense of the long-term pleasure which comes with the fulfillment of your dreams and goals.
· You are able to identify potential potholes or landmines that could sabotage the possibility of reaching the desired goals.
These checkpoints will help you to know if what you are doing is working well and taking you in the direction of achieving your goals and living your dreams.
My dream is to be a prolific writer - encouraging and inspiring hope. I also want to finish writing the book – Empowered for Victory and see it printed by mid-year. I did my checkpoint inspection last weekend and noted that though I have made progress in some areas, but I was behind in some important ones.
I found that I was spending more time reading about how to write than I was writing. I was not where I wanted to be with the book. Yes, I am learning a lot about the craft but something is definitely wrong if reading blogs on writing becomes an obstacle to writing. I have to spend more time writing if I want to complete the book and see it published as I have dreamt.
So I reviewed my schedule and what I am writing – the book, and the weekly blog and inspirational email I post on Wednesdays and Fridays respectively. I reorganized my time to focus on writing the book on the other days. To keep me accountable, I made graphic, on a spreadsheet posted where I can easily view it, the action I take each day towards completing the book - number of words written, stories edited and revised and poems completed.
What checkpoints have you set up to help you review your goals? Are the activities you are currently engaged in going to help to deliver your desired outcome? Can you relate what you are doing and what you are planning to do to the bigger picture – your dream? Reviewing what you have done so far will help you take note of the transformation which has taken place and how this contribute to the overall goal.
Don’t lose sight of your dream. Sometimes we have to make difficult decisions and sacrifice temporary pleasure to stay focused and on track – denying ourselves some pleasures now for the greater pleasure of achieving our goals and seeing our dreams come true.
This calls for self-discipline, determination, patience and perseverance, and a willingness to trust God and follow His instruction. being assured that the path He is leading us is the best path for us even if it looks less glamorous.
After each checkpoint, I encourage you to keep your long-term goal in mind and go confidently in the direction of your dream.
Many will celebrate Easter – the greatest celebration of Christianity – Christ risen from the dead. He rises in our soul everyday if we call on Him to do so. This realization causes new life to spring forth in each of us. It is a season of transition from death to life, of renewal and of reawakening.
It is a checkpoint in the lives of every Christian. Where are we in our walk of faith? Are we living each day with our gaze focused on the hope of rising with Christ when He appears in His glory?
I wish you a time of deep reflection at the checkpoint this Easter.