There is no doubt that the past two years have been very difficult as we have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of you have lost family members and good friends. Others, like myself, nearly lost a family member; in my case it was my brother. When you experience something like that, it makes you want to live each day intentionally. For my brother, that looks like reaching out to friends who have tested positive themselves, or the family of friends to share his experience as a way to help and encourage them. Other friends are battling cancer or facing other hardships. As we look to 2022, it would be wise for all of us to consider what we have learned through our experiences over the past two years so that we can lead more intentional lives.
The beginning of a new year is a great time for us to focus on those areas where we want to be intentional. But how do you decide what you want to focus on?
This is not just about what are referred to as “New Year’s Resolutions”. No, it’s much more important than that. I would suggest going back to your Personal Mission Statement (if you have one, if not, I would recommend that you develop one), to assure your goals are in alignment with your core purpose, principles and beliefs. A great place to learn about a Personal Mission Statement is from Matt Perman’s excellent book What’s Best Next. Here are highlights from Matt’s book. In particular, look at the highlights from Chapter 11: What’s Your Mission? How Not to Waste Your Life.
Now I understand that not all of you are into setting goals for yourselves. 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 in as you live intentionally in 2022:
Relationships. Which relationships in your life – family, friends, work colleagues, etc. need mending or strengthening? Why not be intentional in taking the first step towards reconciliation 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.
- 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 (socially distanced), to keep each other on track. Be intentional as you take that first step.
- 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. Now’s a good time to be intentional about making changes in your diet.
- Sleep. Many of us, for a variety of reasons, don’t get enough sleep each night. When I was working and going to seminary, I would get up very early in the morning. I would try to catch up on my lack of sleep with a weekend nap or two. But that’s not a very good way to get the rest we need. How about you? Do you get enough sleep? Why not be intentional about going to bed a half an hour earlier and see if you feel more refreshed.
- COVID-19 Vaccination. I know that this can be a controversial topic. Not everyone has chosen to get the vaccine, for a variety of reasons. My wife Tammy and I have chosen to get “fully vaccinated” as well as the booster.
- Read the Bible. The beginning of a new year is a great time to start a Bible reading plan. My daily practice is to continuously read through the Bible chronologically, with a goal of at least a chapter each day. As 2022 begins, Tammy and I will be reading 2 Peter. There are many Bible reading plans available that might fit you better than the way I read the Bible. Here is a helpful list of Bible reading plans compiled by Ligonier Ministries. If you need help on how to study the Bible, I would recommend my wife’s book, Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold.
- 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, faith and work, Christian living, leadership and sports. I also enjoy reading some of my favorite books a second time. To be intentional about reading, why not join a book club with friends or read a daily devotional, either by yourself or with your spouse? Here are some resources I have used for daily devotional reading.
- 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! There are a number of excellent books I have read about prayer, and here are ten of them that I would recommend to you. There are many approaches you can take for your prayer list- A.C.T.S., a prayer list, prayer cards, a designated time and place, etc. It doesn’t really matter which approach you take. Just be intentional about praying each day.
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 in this area. As a result, several years ago, we brought his Financial Peace University class to our church, a course I would highly recommend. He’ll walk you through the baby steps to financial freedom. Be intentional, and look for where FPU classes are being offered in your area.
Are you a goal setter? If so, what personal goals do you have for 2022? How are you going to live intentionally in 2022? Please share your plans.