What plan? (Word of the Year 2014)

I choose a “Word for the Year” in addition to setting a few specific goals annually. This habit has served me well. Generally, I begin thinking about my new word for the upcoming year early in the fall. Some years are harder than others to pin down a single word, but generally I know that the word is right for my year by the time January 1st arrives.

This past year, I waffled a little bit. I am mostly pleased with how I operate within my own life. And the areas that I am most frustrated are the places that I have a small skill set. For example, I manage the money that I have today well, but I don’t know how to plan for my future. God has been SO good to provide, protect and carry me through these last years, though I have very little money in comparison to my married years. Yet, my bills are paid and I am paying down the few pre-divorce debts that remain in my life. We don’t have any “play” money to travel or eat out, but we have enough to cover our basic needs. So, I handle the money that I have with excellence.

BUT I have no idea how to prepare for my financial future.

This is common for women of divorce in many nations. Huffington quotes  of divorced Australian women “A typical woman endures a 73 percent reduction in her standard of living after a divorce.”  The Guardian reports of UK women, “The average woman’s income falls by more than a fifth and remains low for many years.”   And the Census Bureau offers many statistics for America. “Women who divorced in the past 12 months were more likely than recently divorced men to be in poverty (22 percent compared with 11 percent),” and “Children living with a parent who divorced in 2009 were more likely to be in a household below the poverty level (28 percent) compared with other children (19 percent).”

I offer these statistics to say, I know that am not alone.  Being divorced is tough. Being a divorced mom/female is even more difficult. And my financial future is just one of the uncertain areas I am struggling to navigate.

I know I need to think about the future.
So, I shared here that my chosen word for 2014 is “Plan.”
My Word of the Year “Plan” was not finance-focused. It was LIFE-focused.
Right now, my focus combines self-talk like
“Breathe. Make it through today. Find the beauty in the moment.
Do what you can and don’t fret about the rest.”
Because, truly …. this moment is all that we are have.

My calendar

I still remember the moment in March when I wondered,
“What the hell was I thinking? Choosing the word “Plan”
does not actually CREATE a plan!”
Around April, I considered completely changing my word.
I have never done that before … but … I just felt like I was holding onto an idea
that I didn’t know how to bring to fruition.
But, I really pray about my focus word so I let it remain.
I began to ask God HOW to plan. HOW do I navigate through this?
WHAT changes should I be making?

Two or three weeks ago, I was flipping through the radio station dial as I drove and happened upon The Steve Harvey Morning Show. He was giving a pep-talk about getting things done and concepts from his book, “Act like a Success ; Think like a Success.”  It was not a short monologue. He talked about doing things for yourself rather than waiting on others. He encouraged doing hard things when you’re afraid.
But, the thing that spoke with megaphone-quality to my heart
was towards the end of his  soliloquy. He said that his mantra for each day is
“Always be closing.”

I thought about the phrase all day and how well it applied to my life.
When I returned home, I googled the phrase and found this …. harsh movie clip from the movie
Glengarry Glen Ross .  (Note: language warning)

So, I know where Steve Harvey got the quote
but the revelation that I had about this phrase was very different.

I tend to have more than one creative project going at once. And I tend to struggle with finishing a project. In fact, I wrote a bit about it here when a friend pointed out that I tend to “never be finished.” I used to struggle with perfectionism. I feared finishing a project because it “might not be good enough.” If I was “not finished,” then I didn’t feel like a failure. I’m so thankful that I am past that. In practice of “I don’t care,” and letting go of trying to please others, I have laid that struggle aside. This is truly a victory.

Purely out of habit, I still have many projects that have been started
but not finished.
When I heard Steve Harvey say, “Always be closing,” I knew that
for me
that phrase meant to be focusing my attention
finishing.

So, God has shown me that, right now, my plan should be to focus on finishing projects … today … now. I don’t have to know what will happen next month or next year, I just need to work on finishing what I have started. I need to tie up loose ends that are blowing in the breeze or complete endeavors that are piled and pushed aside. These can be creative endeavors, financial goals or repair projects. The key is – don’t look for new things to do, new projects to start or new adventures to join. Focus on what is already in my heart or already begun in my world.  Always be closing/finishing.

I am so thankful for a God who doesn’t leave me. He allows situations that I can’t handle so I’ll lean on Him.  He holds my hand when I feel lost. He calms me and guides me when it is dark. And He sustains and provides along this bendy, muddy, sloped path. And He encourages me in the ways that are specific to me. And right now, I know I need to
Always Be Closing.

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