Wednesday, March 11, 2015

{Planning Forward} A Quarterly Retreat

Hello friends!

Here we are in the middle of March already!  The snow that has covered the ground outside my window for so many months is melting, the birds are singing and the sun is shining in that special "Spring-like" way it has.   My mind is full of plans and ideas for the coming months, and I'm sure yours is too.  So, today, I'd like to encourage you to plan a "mini retreat" in the next few weeks for the purpose of evaluating your past three months and looking ahead to the coming three.  This quarterly retreat can be at the kitchen table for a few hours on a peaceful afternoon, in a cozy nook of a coffee shop, or even in the luxury of a hotel room.  Wherever you can disconnect from your to do list for awhile and indulge in a good "think" will do the trick!  I am blessed to be going away with my husband later this month to spend a day or two in a hotel room while he attends a conference for work.  What perfect timing!  Thank you, Lord!  I'll be taking along the following things to help me 'plan forward'.

My Calendar / Notebook with blank pages
My pencil bag of colored pens (I like to think in color!)
Post It Notes to mark special dates and ideas
My Bible
My Journal
A list of questions to think through
Some chocolate... : )

Here's my game plan...

First, I want to look at my calendar and see what events are coming up in the next three months.  Off the top of my head I can think of Easter Sunday, a college graduation,  and my anniversary, but I know that there are more.  I want to think through each occasion and see if there is anything I need to plan ahead.  Perhaps Easter dinner?  Or a dress for graduation?  Maybe plans for a special getaway for our anniversary?

The next thing on my agenda is usually to plan a date with my husband at least once a month, and a special "cross-stitch day" with my daughter.  Those are special times that we all enjoy and I want to be able to plan around them so they don't get crowded out by "busy-ness".

Then I'll look through birthdays and anniversaries and maybe make a few notes about gifts or cards.  I'll plan my blogging and cardmaking.  I'll decide on my cross stitch goals for the next quarter, and update my daily schedule.  Finally I'll settle down with some chocolate for brain food and ask myself some questions.

1. What has worked over the past three months?  What hasn't?  Have I established any habits over the past three months that have been productive?  How can I keep them going?  Are there any things that I am doing that need to be tweaked or dropped?

2. Is there something I was doing that fell by the wayside that I would like to restart?  Too often I have great ideas that I work on for a month or two and then drop out of forgetfulness or boredom.  Are there any of these that should be revived??  I can think of one or two right now!!

3. Which projects did I work on during the last quarter?  Are they complete? Which projects will be my focus for the next three months?  Think through your project list past and present.  Make a list of things that remain to be done on outstanding projects and plan the steps for some new ones.

4. What have been my biggest time wasters this past quarter?  How can I buy back my time? Little time wasters can turn into big time drains if we aren't careful!!

5. How has my life this past few months lined up with my Purpose Statement?  Do I need to add something in?  Or prune something away?
Take some time to look at all the things you are committed to in the next few months.  These might include titles like wife, mom, housekeeper, homeschool teacher, Sunday School teacher, office worker, volunteer at the food pantry, cook for the dinner at church, choir member, etc., etc.  Now be sure you have time to give to each of them.  Is there something that needs to go - if only for a quarter?  Do you have extra time to take on a new commitment?

6. Do I have any old habits or routines that need to be replaced with new ones?  Have you made any bad habits like complaining or eating too much sugar?  Work on changing them now before they become too deeply ingrained!

7. What has God taught me this past quarter?  Where is He working in my life now?  How is your devotional life?  Are you reading and obeying God's Word?  Do you need to start journaling?  Or memorizing Scripture?  What steps will you take this quarter?

8. What are three things that are weighing on your mind as you go into this quarter?  Perhaps a prayer request, or a decision that needs to be made that you aren't sure about, or maybe an idea that you'd like to flesh out.  Write these on a 3x5 card and carry it with you so you can think and pray about it over the next quarter.

9. What will I do that will help me to grow this quarter? We have many interests and wish to's in our lives.  Which one could you make progress on this quarter?  Could you attend a lecture on gardening at the library? Read a book on decorating?  Learn a language?  Take a quilting class?  Decide on one or more ways to keep learning over the next few months!

10.  What is my personal budget for the upcoming quarter?  How did I do last quarter?  Think through upcoming expenses - giving, clothing, haircuts, makeup, birthday gifts, hobby supplies, digital goods, things you would like for your home... Which of these purchases will NEED to be made in the next quarter?  Budget for those first.  Will you have money left over to save?  To give?  Thinking through our expenses ahead of time will help us to be a blessing to our husband by not outspending our income.

Whew!  What a list!  You can see this isn't our normal 15 - 30 minute weekly planning time!  You'll want a number of hours to really think and plan and pray, but I know the time will be well-spent if we are able to better redeem the time when we are done.

Thanks for stopping by today!  Don't forget to stop back on Saturday for Week Eleven of our Home Bless-A-Thon!



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