For years, I have written an article stating that 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.
Here’s a few suggestions for areas you may want to set goals for 2017:
- Relationships. Which relationships in your life – family, friends, work colleagues, etc. need mending or strengthening? Why don’t you take the initiative to do the mending and strengthening? Don’t wait until it’s too late. We lost a dear member of our family in 2016, and I know many others have as well. 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.
- 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, several years ago 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. Or are you planning for retirement? Use Chris Hogan’s handy online retirement tool.
- 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 perhaps just start by walking or riding your bike whenever possible instead of driving.
- Diet. Most of us, including me, do not eat a very healthy diet. We can all probably eat a little less and make healthier choices. What plans do you have for moving toward a healthier diet in 2017?
- Sleep. Experts generally recommend seven to nine hours of sleep a night for healthy adults.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 John), with a goal of a chapter or more each day. But there are many reading plans available that might fit you better. As an example, Ligonier Ministries has a daily reading plan in their excellent Tabletalk . They offer carefully selected daily readings to take you through the entire Bible in a year. Ligonier has compiled a humongous list of FREE bible reading plans for you to choose from. Some in our church use Professor Horner’s Reading System, which is a unique and challenging system where you read 10 chapters a day. Read Tim Challies’ article “Ten Chapters a Day” about this reading plan. If this sounds a bit overwhelming, here’s a link to his favorite reading plan along with some other great options. And if you are looking for a good “Daily Devotional” book to supplement your Bible reading, I would recommend Tim and Kathy Keller’s helpful book The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms.
- 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. Now I understand that some people just don’t like to read, but why not try an audiobook? I have a monthly subscription to Audible. Christianaudio is another excellent resource for audiobooks, or you can get them for free at your local library.
- Your Prayer Life. This is another area that most of us can improve in. There are many approaches you can take – ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication), a prayer list, prayer cards, a prayer journal, designated time and place, etc. You can also find great value in reading printed prayers such as can be found in The Valley of Vision, Scotty Smith’s Every Season Prayers, or his daily Heavenward prayers which you can sign up to receive daily.
Are you a goal setter? If so, what personal goals do you have for 2017? How are you going to make 2017 a better year than 2016? Please share your thoughts. Thanks!