Begin as You Mean to Go On // Ep. 053

 

This is episode 53, and the first one of 2021! Today we’re talking about one of my favorite practices at the beginning of a new year. It’s the idea of “beginning as you mean to go on.” It’s based on a quote from Spurgeon that says, “Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began, and let the Lord be all in all to you.” We’re going to talk about how we want this year to go, what we can do this week to set ourselves up for beginning as we mean to go on, and of course, invite the Lord to be all in all to us in 2021.

 

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Transcript:

Hi friends, this is Self-Care and Soul Care for the Caregiver, and I’m your host Sandra Peoples. To us, self-care isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. We need to take better care of ourselves so we can care for those God has entrusted to us.

This is episode 53, and the first one of 2021! Today we’re talking about one of my favorite practices at the beginning of a new year. It’s the idea of “beginning as you mean to go on.” It’s based on a quote from Spurgeon that says, “Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began, and let the Lord be all in all to you.” (Charles H. Spurgeon, All of Grace) We’re going to talk about how we want this year to go, what we can do this week to set ourselves up for beginning as we mean to go on, and of course, invite the Lord to be all in all to us in 2021.

Before we jump in, let me say that in this episode I’m sharing resources I’ve created that will make 2021 smoother for you. They are pages from my Abiding Caregiver planner. You’ll find the links in the shownotes at sandrapeoples.com/thepodcast under episode 53. So be sure to check it out and print off what you need!

Alright friends, let’s jump in!

Before we begin as a mean to go on, let’s first decide how we mean to go on! I think a big part of that decision is asking how we don’t want to go on! In other words, what isn’t working for you right now? What didn’t work for you in 2020? There are some things that happened in 2020 that you had no control over, of course. But there’s plenty you could make decisions about. We can fall into habits without thinking about if they are actually best or if we have more control over them than we think.

2020 kinda shook my family out of patterns we had gotten in that we just accepted as normal that actually weren’t working for us. And a lot of them had to do with what feels easy now instead of planning for the future. For example, it’s easier to dry James off after his bath than to teach him how to do it day after day until he gets it. Or, in a non-James related example, it feels easier not to meal plan on a Sunday evening than to sit down and do it. But, on Monday at 4:30 when I’m getting asked what’s for dinner and don’t have a plan, it feels worse. So as I think about how to begin as I want to go on, I first need to think about what isn’t working and make a plan to fix the issues.

Here’s my list of what isn’t working:

  • my overloaded inbox (I’m so bad at answering emails.)
  • Sunday lunches (right now our default is going through a drive thru, but I’d rather come home to a meal in the crock pot)
  • David’s homeschool routine (even after a full semester of doing it, we didn’t find the best routine)

My plan for this week will included asking the rest of my family what isn’t working for them and then coming up with some plans to fix these issues or get in different routines!

Beginning as you mean to go on is also about what you’re doing that you want to keep doing! What’s working for you right now? What habits did you develop in 2020 that you want to continue? I made some goals last year that I kept up with in the Streaks app, daily goals like connecting with a friend and reading my Bible. There are other natural rhythms we fell into that I want to keep up, like making our own pizza on Friday nights. Spending less time on social media was helpful in 2020. Regular therapy sessions were a blessing. Really, once I start thinking about it, I can name lots of habits and routines I want to keep up! I bet you can too!

The third step is to think about how God wants you to spend your time in 2021. Prov. 16:9 says “A person’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.”

Remembering our limitations while also remembering God’s providential care for us should bring peace to our hearts as we start a new year. We won’t face a single day when He has not gone before us. We won’t experience a challenge without His presence. Back in episode 39 on the sins we face as caregivers, we talked about the sin of ungodliness. It is defined by Jerry Bridges as “living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will or of God’s glory, or of one’s dependence on God.” We don’t want to be guilty of that in 2021! Remember, we are abiding caregivers who realize that apart from Him, we can do nothing! So as we begin as we mean to go on, let’s ask God to remind us of His love and care for us.

If you’ve picked a word or verse of the year, you can also think about that at this step. My one word is rest, and I want to remember what God has already taught me about rest as I’ve started studying the concept in Scripture. As I begin as I mean to go on, I want rest to be a priority.

Let’s review what we’ve talked through so far—we listed things that aren’t working for us and our families, we talked about things that are working that we want to keep up, and we reminded ourselves of God’s control over our lives and the sense of peace that brings. Now we’re ready to make a plan to begin as we mean to go on.

Here’s how I’m going to do that: first, I’m going to fill out an ideal week grid and have David, my son who I’m homeschooling, do one too. I have a printable ready for us in the show notes today. Just go to sandrapeoples.com/ thepodcast and you’ll find it in the post about episode 53. If you need a reminder about what an ideal week grid is, you can go back to last January’s episode on it, 007. Essentially, you’re planning out the ideal week for you—what you would do if everything went according to plan. It’s super helpful to begin as you mean to go on with a plan written out. Now, I do mine in pencil in case I think something will work and realize after a couple weeks that it isn’t, but that’s the beauty of it. You’re the boss of your ideal week.

Second, I’m going to decrease my decision fatigue. Today is Monday, which means that I’m wearing my Monday uniform, a concept I’ve been doing for 5ish years and first learned about from Anne Bogel aka Modern Mrs. Darcy. I have a shirt that literally says “This is my Monday uniform” that I put on every Monday so I don’t have to decide what to wear. I also decrease decision fatigue by planning out the menu for the week (I have a printable for that in the show notes) and by tracking new habits I want to start (I have a printable for that in the show notes too). I have a step count goal I want to meet 4/7 days a week, so I’m going to start that this week. I’ll reverse engineer that goal and create habit triggers to help me be more successful (listen to episode 008 for more on how to do that). I’m going to decide on a new Bible reading plan in my YouVersion app and start it today. All of these little things will become part of my routine, and soon I won’t have to think about them!

Third, I’m going to set myself up for success for the future on some goals. For example, James has been more independent getting dressed lately! Yay! But sometimes he puts on shirts that are too small. Well, that’s not really his fault. His favorites are old shirts that would be too small. But if I took a few minutes to clear out those shirts from his closet, he wouldn’t try to put them on when he’s dressing himself. I’m also going to clear off the counter in the kitchen where the baked goods from Christmas are piled up. After a month of treats and comfort food, I want to get back to the food habits I started in 2020. The best way to do that is to eliminate the temptations. For me, this isn’t the week to do big projects, like clean out the garage, but it is the week to take small steps that will set me up for success for goals I do want to meet.

To sum up, to begin as we mean to go on this week, we’re going to fill out the ideal week grid, eliminate decision fatigue, and set ourselves up for future success. It makes me really excited to think about! We get to decide what’s most important to us and make it happen. My week may look totally different from yours, because your first week of 2021 will reflect what’s most important to you. It will show you and others what your priorities are for this new year.

If all this sounds overwhelming to you, then let me give you a short cut: if you want to do it the rest of the year, do it this week. Want to read your Bible more? Do it this week. Want to eat less sugar? Do it this week. Think making your bed could improve 2021? Do it this week. You don’t have to grid and track and plan the same way I do. But all of us can live out Spurgeon’s quote: “Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began, and let the Lord be all in all to you.” We can face this year with anticipation about what God will do as we submit our plans to Him! Let’s pray about that now:

Heavenly Father, we come to You now with open hands, bringing our hopes and plans for 2021 into your presence. We know you guide our steps, and we ask for You to guide our plans and purpose as well! We want to live every moment aware of Your grace over us. We also want to be faithful to care for our families and be open to the opportunities you have given us. That means we need Your guidance over the very practical details of our lives. You know the stars in the sky by name and number the hairs on our heads, so we know you care about the details that create our rhythms. We’re asking for Your wisdom as we begin as we mean to go on, and we ask for Your blessing over 2021. May we become more like Jesus each day. It’s in His name we pray, amen.

Friends, I’m so thankful you spent time with me during the first week of 2021! I hope it’s helped you get ready to hit the ground running this year. Be sure to go over to sandrapeoples.com/thepodcast and print off the pages from the Abiding Caregiver planner! I’m praying for you this week as you are faithful to God’s calling on your life as a caregiver, and I’ll meet you back here next week!

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