3 weeks into my health challenge, I finally realized I had been compulsively lying to myself about the state of my health. My back, joints, and heart were hurting. My sleep was poor. My energy was way down. My ability to concentrate was the worst it had ever been. In a nutshell, things were not good with my physical health!
This is all very interesting to me as a Priest because I believe there are very strong parallels between our physical and spiritual health. If you can’t see them, let me help you connect the dots. When we are spiritually unhealthy, sin has a paining effect in our lives, we lack the type of spiritual rest that comes from being in communion with God, we become unmoved to pray to the Master and serve our neighbors, and we oftentimes lack the ability to have the presence of mind which allows us to love as Christ did.
So what to do about it?
Then It Hit Me
It must be that time again. Time to make a decision. Again? Time to have a “come to Jesus” moment and live more healthy. Again? Time to set another goal. Again? Wait!!! I’ve already done all that 15 times, this year alone! The issue is not the absence of making a decision or setting good goals. Well, maybe I needed to reevaluate my intentions. Again? My intentions were good; but that’s really not of much relevance here, after all you have heard the old adage about the road to hell (in case you haven’t, that metaphorical road is paved with good intentions). Then it finally hit me! How could I have missed this for so long? I had made a decision, set great goals, and had good intentions but never made a plan.
Having Good Goals Without a Great Plan Will Ultimately Lead Down the Road of Failure
Plan to Succeed
Benjamin Franklin supposedly once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” A good military general will never think to go into battle without having a well thought out battle plan. A family trying to climb out of debt can only get started once it begins implementing a thorough financial plan. A stagnant church ministry can get things moving once it evaluates its situation, sets goals, and puts a plan in place. And a person trying to get healthy can make all the decisions in the world and set the best goals ever, but a good plan is worth its weight in gold (no pun intended). In my own journey, there were 4 Things I realized I needed to account for in my plan:
1. Plan Ahead: We often think that it is a lack of motivation that causes us to come up short in reaching our goals. I think it’s rather the failure to plan ahead that is prohibitive to our success. If you somehow always find yourself eating a Big Mac on the run, plan out your meals for the day (or the week). If you never seem to remember to read your Bible in the morning, put it somewhere the night before you are going to have to pick it up or set a Bible Reading Alarm on your phone.
2. Allow for Flexibility: A well thought out plan can be advantageous to helping you reach your goal but – without flexibility – it can limit you when life happens. Your child wakes up sick and needs your attention; call an audible and exercise later in the day. You were up late the night before – working on a project – and then overslept, read your Bible during lunch break. Being successful in life requires adaptability and flexibility.
3. Share Your Plan: My wife walked into my office last night and saw a box of Girl Scout Cookies opened on my desk. With guilt all over my face, I quickly said “I only have one a day.” She closed the box and encouraged me to remove them from my office, “you have a goal and this is not part of your diet.” Telling others about how you plan to reach your goals allows them to help keep you accountable to those plans. Have a Bible Reading Plan? Planning to start exercising and eat healthy? Share your plans with someone who cares enough to encourage you.
4. Get Advice: In each aspect of my life – spiritual, family, ministry, health, and emotional – I have trusted people I lean on who are experts in their respective fields. Whenever I put together a plan, I run it by them. I do not go to them and ask them to put together a plan for me; rather I do the work and simply ask them to review my plan and give feedback.
What advice would you offer someone looking to put together a full proof plan?