I love strategic thinking and planning, especially when it’s all about me! I relish taking a personal retreat, carrying one of those huge post-it note flip charts with me. I enjoy spending several days dreaming about the future and crafting a plan to get there.
The last time I did one of those personal planning retreats was 2 weeks before COVID changed our world. I came up with a whole wall full of notes articulating lots of stimulating goals and objectives. I was inspired and ready to take on the next phase of my life, which would include my retirement from 40+ years of pastoral ministry. I packed up my post-it notes to return home from my retreat and never looked at them again.
I eventually threw them all away.
For the past 12 months, strategic planning has been mostly irrelevant. I’ve simply existed as best I could. Many days felt like all the other days. The future was essentially unknowable as infection rates forced us to ride the waves.
But things have changed ever so slightly. “Fully vaccinated” is my cry! In-person meetings have returned. Going out for dinner is a renewed luxury. Going to church is once again our joy.
And, yes, I’m able to dream a bit. But here’s the shocker. Just a few days ago I took a mini-version of my strategic planning retreats. Just me and a clipboard in my basement office. But, unusual for me, instead of a vast array of impressive objectives, I came up with just one singular goal for my foreseeable future.
I want to be at peace.
That’s it. That’s my strategic plan.
Of course, it took me a bit of time over a few days to arrive at that singular focus of desire. But it is real and feels right. I want to be at peace in my mind, at peace in my heart, and at peace with my world. Even now as I type those words, I feel it…the hunger…within me.
Here is how that hunger for peace feels within me:
I want less achievement and more being.
I want less future and more present.
I want less past and more present.
I want less alienation and more inclusiveness.
I want less condemnation and more mercy.
I want less craving and more satisfaction.
I want less fight and more love.
Perhaps my next step will be to lay out my “3 moves to achieve inner peace” or my “top five personal peace objectives” or my “13 paths to peace”. After all, Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he said, “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” But for right now I’m fine with a very simple North Star.
I want to be at peace.
iocAnd while I wish that for me, I pray that for you.