By Josie Carignan
"You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance."
It’s New Year's Eve. One of my favorite days of the year. I am looking back over the past year and dreaming about the future. Prayerfully prioritizing the things that matter most to make sure they fit in to the new year, and let go of the things that are draining time and energy but not really important.
Life is ever changing, and each year brings a new season. Our responsibilities, job, kids, family and living situation and even our values may change, and with it the goals we reach evolve. The New Year is a great opportunity to re-evaluate what is important to us and define the win for our lives in the year ahead.
As I look ahead at 2018 I consider the potential it holds. What do I want to accomplish? What does God have for me? We are all given the same amount of time. That is maybe the only way in which our lives are all the same. We all have 24 hours in each day and 365 days in a year. It is our choice how we spend them. What we will do with the time we have been given.
I reflect on family, priorities, work, me, Bible reading plans, attitudes… I know there is nothing magical about January 1st. It is a day like all the others. But in the world we live in it is a day that marks the beginning of something new, which makes it the perfect time to learn from the past and intentionally set ourselves up for the most successful year possible, filled with the things that matter most to us in our current season.
I love the word intentional! Nothing happens on accident. We have to be intentional about creating the life, space, atmosphere and community that we want. And the older I get the more I realize that ever year counts. They all build on each other and I want to intentionally be building the life I want to live, as well as what I want to leave for my children one day. It matters! Our choices matter. Every day.
Here are seven areas to look at that will help you define what you want out of the New Year so that you can intentionally live this out through the choices you make:
1. Pray and ask God what He wants for the year that lies ahead. Have an open heart. What word He is speaking over your life for the New year? The Bible teaches us that “His ways are not our ways” Isa 55:8 and that “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Prov 16:9 It is important to listen to God and be sensitive to his leading. Otherwise in all our zeal and planning, we might miss what He has in store for us.
2. Re-define your priorities. Sometimes we have priorities in our heart that our lives don't reflect on a daily basis. It's time to re-prioritize your time! What matters most to you? Make a list of people, areas of interest, work, events, character traits, or even a certain atmosphere you want in your home. What do you love? What do you want to invest time in? Who is important to you? Some examples would be: time with family, a peaceful home, a clean home, building my company, reading the Bible, spending time with friends, having people over, feeding the hungry, travel…. Make sure you intentionally include these things in your life.
3. Look back over the past year and list the 5 best things that happened and 3 of the worst. Your fondest memories and greatest successes as well as the biggest failure and sad stuff. If the best moment were centered around trips or family time, make sure to include more of that this year. If your worst times were due to bad choices, make sure you get wisdom and accountability in those areas so they don’t repeat.
4. Look at relationships. The ones closest to you. Your husband, kids, family and friends. What do you want to work on? And when you look at your circle of friends, are there some friendships you need to shed, and others you need to be intentional about investing in? Maybe you need a new circle of friends. It is said that you are the average of the 5 closest people in your life. Who are you spending time with?
5. Look at yourself. What would be something you want to change about YOU? You will probably have a laundry list of things right away and usually this is the only category people set goals in. But be realistic and intentional. Prioritize. You can’t change everything over night, but you can definitely change several things in the span of a year. Is there a character trait you want to develop? A bad habit you want to break? Or a healthy habit you want to build?
6. Dream your wildest dream. What do you want out of life? If you were to dream big – where would you be 10 years from now? What would you be doing? Now list one (or a few) things you can do next year to move in the direction of your big dream. Your ultimate life goal.
7. Learn something new? It has been said that when you stop learning you stop living. I think that is true. Every year we have the opportunity to learn something new or become an expert at something. Maybe a new sport or an instrument. A language. Memorize scripture. Learn about another culture. Pick something you want to learn and expand your horizons. It will enrich not only your year but your life.
Now look over all that you have written down. What you have gathered makes up the skeleton for setting your priorities and goals for the coming year. Take a few minutes to organize your thoughts and write out your goals in a way that inspires you. I've made a little cheat sheet that you can download and use.
You have a clean slate. A chance to start fresh. This is your life – live it intentionally, don’t just go along for the ride. Your daily choices determine where you will be a year from now, ten and even twenty years from now.
Let's do this!! We're coming at ya 2018!
Happy New Year all.
A year from now you will wish you had started today!