The beginning of a new year is a great time for us to focus on those areas where we want to improve. But how do you decide what you want to focus on? This is not just about New Year’s Resolutions. No, it’s much more important than that. I would suggest going back to your Personal Mission Statement to assure your goals are in alignment with your core purpose, principles and beliefs.
Now I understand and respect that not all people are into setting goals for themselves. I’m one of those who does enjoy setting goals; I break them into daily, short-term and long term goals.
Here’s a few suggestions for areas you may want to set goals and taking the first steps towards those objectives:
- Relationships. Which relationships in your life – family, friends, work colleagues, etc. need mending or strengthening? You be the one to make the first step towards them today – Don’t wait until it’s too late. Pick up the phone or send an email, text or nice handwritten note to set up a time to visit, or to ask them how you can pray for them.
- Physical well-being.
- Exercise. Health clubs are traditionally very busy in January as people are motivated to get in shape and lose those pounds they put on during the holidays. The challenge is to stay with it. Develop an exercise routine that will fit into your schedule and stick with it – maybe do it with a friend to keep each other on track. Or just take that first step of change – walk or ride your bike whenever possible instead of driving.
- Diet. Most of us, including me, do not eat a very healthy diet. A recent medical procedure showed me that I need to make some changes in my diet. We can all probably eat a little less and make healthier choices. Now’s a good time to start with that first step – make sure you have fresh fruit available instead of Pop-Tarts.
- Sleep. In Denise Mann’s article “Research Suggests That Sleep Requirements Vary from Person to Person” she writes: “Whether you need seven, eight, or even nine hours of sleep a night may be up for debate, but the importance of getting adequate sleep is not debatable. Sleep loss increases the risk of high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, and diseases associated with these risk factors, such as diabetes and heart disease.” Sleep loss also impairs performance and mood, according to the report from the National Sleep Foundation. This is an area I could certainly improve in. How about you? Do you get enough sleep? Try going to bed a half an hour earlier and see if you feel more refreshed.
- Spiritual Health.
- Read the Bible. The beginning of a new year is a great time to start a Bible reading plan. I tend to read through the Bible book by book (I’m currently in Job), with a goal of a chapter or more each day. But there are many reading plans available that might fit you better including the classic Our Daily Bread. Here’s a helpful list of reading plans compiled by Ligonier Ministries. First steps? TOLLE LEGE! (In today’s language – pick up your bible, dust it off and open it!)
- Read Good Books. I often tell my wife Tammy, “Too many books, too little time”. I enjoy books in a number of different genres – theology, biography, professional growth, leadership and sports; I also enjoy reading some of my favorite books a second time. First steps? Read a book with a child, join a book club or visit your local library.
- Your Prayer Life. This is an area that most of us can improve in. What a wonderful privilege it is to spend time with our Heavenly Father! I read three books on prayer in 2015 that I would highly recommend to you – by Tim Keller, Paul Miller and Eric Alexander – each with a slightly different approach to the subject of prayer. There are many approaches you can take (A.C.T.S., a prayer list, prayer cards, a designated time and place, etc.); in 2016 I plan to use Tim and Kathy Keller’s new book The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms. Or let Martin Luther teach you A Simple Way to Pray. In this small booklet he tells his barber how to empower his prayer life. First step? Of course it’s really easy! Bow your head, bend your knee, close your eyes, talk to your Father, wherever you are.
- Finances. Perhaps you have debt – credit card bills, medical bills, college loans, etc. Or perhaps you are building wealth. I have been helped a great deal by the ministry of Dave Ramsey. As a result, we brought his Financial Peace University to our church, a course I would highly recommend. He’ll walk you through the baby steps to financial freedom.
Are you a goal setter? If so, what personal goals do you have for 2016? How are you going to make 2016 a better year than 2015? Please share your thoughts ~ Thanks.