Goals and Grace: Planning With Purpose

Ah, 2023. Would you agree that it’s been a yin and yang year for most of us? As we come to the end of the year, we’re in a different kind of pull: Wanting to be fully present to our family and friends during this holiday season while excited about the possibilities awaiting us next year.

These opposing pulls of living in the present and thinking about the future can lead to overwhelming pressure to achieve big seasonal goals like:

  • Finding the perfect present for each person on our list
  • Spending more time with family and friends
  • Having the perfect plan in place for our business for 2024

Along with those pressures, we may feel the weight of world events. Or worry that family differences might escalate when everyone is together over the holidays.

It’s enough to make us feel helpless. But we’re not.

Goals are important, but grace is necessary. Grace for others and grace for ourselves.

Two women having a conversationI’ve been thinking a lot about grace lately. There’s so much hatred expressed online, especially when it comes to cancel culture. And here’s what I’m left with. People make mistakes. Companies make mistakes. Politicians and even governments make mistakes. Not one of us is infallible. And yet too often the belief is that we should be.

I went through a workshop where I learned a concept called “granting being.” It means to give grace rather than pass judgment. Give grace to people when they do things we don’t like. Give grace when we don’t understand them.

Think of someone you know who has said or done something you didn’t agree with. Grace is the gift of separating the person from the deed and acknowledging that one thing does not define them. How easy or difficult this is depends on how egregious the deed is, right? But what if it isn’t? What if a hurtful comment at a holiday party could be met with a statement like, “I’d like to understand why you feel that way.” When we respond with grace, we open doors. When we respond with judgment, we close them.

I know this isn’t easy. I’ve been to those parties. And it’s just in the past handful of years that I’ve been able, SOMETIMES, to approach difficult situations in this way. And I’ve been shut down. Some people don’t want to explain. Some will judge YOU for asking. But when it works, it works well. That doesn’t mean you still won’t disagree or feel hurt or offended. I have felt the most grace when I’ve given it to others.

But you know when it’s the most difficult to grant grace? When it comes to ourselves.

Young woman smiling at sunsetIt’s when we say, “Why bother setting goals? I will never achieve them.” or “I didn’t get accepted into a group/class/program, so I’m not good enough.” It’s when we compare ourselves to others we find ourselves lacking. When you hear that uninvited voice in your head whispering words of defeat. Things like, “This is never going to work”, “Why bother?” or “I knew it wouldn’t work.” This is the harshest kind of judgment because it comes from inside us.

There’s a practice I heard someone talk about many years ago. When you feel too scared to try or when you feel like you failed, switch your uninvited negative voice to the voice of your best business friend. If you don’t have one, make one up. Seriously. Imagine that person saying, “You only fail if you don’t try.” or “So what if it didn’t go as planned? Figure out what you need to do differently and try again.”

More importantly, imagine that voice when things DO go well. Imagine that voice saying, “See! I told you it would work!”

I hope the last days of the year are filled with peace. It’s time to take care of ourselves. To set goals in a smart and inspiring way and to grant grace to ourselves and others.

I’m rooting for you! Make the best of your goals and grace.

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