Take inventory before planning the new year

Credit: Picasa

Credit: Picasa

My first New Year’s Eve in America was frustrating, at best. As a newlywed, I was excited to spend New Year’s Eve with my new husband, celebrating in style.

Originally from Brazil, I was used to the “Réveillon” celebrations, widely famous for parties that last through the morning hours, while beautiful people glamorously dressed in white crowd the beaches to watch magnificent fireworks.

As it happened, my husband announced that he had to be in bed by 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. As an inventory control manager for a factory, New Year’s Day was the most critical time of the year, and he intended to retain the record of highest inventory accuracy among all the plants of the corporation for the seventh year in a row. He had to be on site at 3 a.m., therefore, our lonesome party ended at 9 that evening.

As much as that experience made me resent inventory control that night, I later realized how vital his commitment to excellence and accuracy had become for his employer.

When he took the job years before, the inventory control department of that particular factory was in disarray. The company was losing millions of dollars in raw materials, as well as finished goods. In one year’s time, my husband was able to change that scenario by implementing daily check points, monthly thorough inventory control counts and standard operating procedures, which the company uses to this day, over a decade after he left that particular job.

I remember him describing how simple daily checks corrected serious production line leaks, and small changes in operating procedures allowed the company to save millions of dollars every year. I was proud beyond measure, and never resented our early bedtime on New Year’s Eve again.

“Take Inventory.” That was the thought that came to my mind on Jan. 1 this year, when I sat down early in the morning with a cup of coffee, my bible and a notebook in hand, ready to write down some objectives for 2017. However, rather than starting a new list without looking back, I felt compelled to take inventory of the year that ended just hours before.

My husband’s conversations about the importance of inventorying “finished and unfinished goods” before starting a new year came to mind. And I realized that I could not expect a successful 2017, unless I took an honest look at where I succeeded and, more importantly, where I failed in the year that ended.

Not long ago, I read the testimony of a compulsive overeater who participated in the “Twelve Steps” recovery program, which is patterned after the Alcoholics Anonymous’ Plan. On step Number Four, the participants are confronted with a different type of inventory:

“(We) make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

The inventory I felt compelled to take had nothing to do with the list of things that I had set to accomplish in 2016. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even have one. This inventory would involve searching my heart, while honestly evaluating less tangible items than a to-do list: my walk with God, my relationship with family and friends, my words, attitude, and my desire to serve others.

While spending a long time inventorying my previous year, I was able to realize that more than successful accomplishments and checks on a to-do list, God is calling me to, as Jesus said, “store up treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

With that sobering thought forefront in 2017, I realize that, if only I “seek first his kingdom and righteousness,” God will guide me and help me accomplish even more than I could think or ask for in this brand-new year.

Patricia Holbrook is a Christian author, blogger and international speaker. Her book, “Twelve Inches,” is on sale at Barnes & Nobles, Amazon and retailers worldwide. Visit her website www.soaringwithHim.com. For speaking engagements and comments, email pholbrook@soaringwithHim.com.