How To New Year (2018)

In our weekly video devotional we talked about how it’s time to start planning for the new year.

This is often a time of looking back and then planning for the future. What we don’t want to do is to make the same mistakes as last year. We want to make sure that we live differently this year, we want to give ourselves that greatest chance of success in 2018.

That’s what I want for you guys. I want you to move forward from where you have been. To journey on from where you are at, to not just live the same year over again because you are the same person you were last year. I want you to develop yourself, both in you character and relationship with God, and in the things that you set out to do, and the things that you accomplish.

With all of that in mind, in the video that I posted last week, I said one of the beat things to do is go to God and ask Him what he wants you to change this year – even if it is just one thing – it is worth it to hear from Him. In this article today – like I promised in the video – I want to give you a few tips on how you might end up living well in 2018. These tips will be wide ranging, but they will also not be the same as the ‘normal’ time management hacks that most people will give you around this time of year. I want this year to be a year that you can look back on in 365 days and be satisfied with the year that you’ve had. To think that it was a year well lived, in line with how God has asked that you live.

Hopefully by then end of this (slightly longer than normal) post you will have some basic tools to be able to really take 2018 by the horns and wrestle it to the ground. If you would like some more articles on these throughout the year or you would like something more like a course that you could go through at your own leisure, then please let me know in the comments below or you can tweet us, Facebook us, or email us – all the contacts will be at the bottom of the article.

Start with why.

This is the most important thing that you need to figure out, which is why it is also the hardest. You need to understand why you are doing something, or why you are wanting to choose to eat less, exercise more, read more books, start a new project etc.

Before we engage in any of the ‘what’ stuff, we need to deal with the why stuff. This is going to take some time, at least it has the potential to take some time, unless you’ve already thought about this, in which case, feel free to continue on to the next thing! But to understand why you are here, what your big mission/vision is for this life, will take some thought, some prayer, and some study in order for you to discover.

But it is important that you do because all of this ‘why’ stuff will drive your decisions, whether it is articulated or not. You will do things for a reason, yet if you don’t know why you are doing them, if they are not coming from the depths of your being, if they are not being driven by something that is so basic to who you are, then it is easy to let them slip by.

Spend some time, go to God, and ask him why you are here. What is the vision/mission that he has for your life? When you receive that, and you absorb it, and you take it on board, and it drives your decisions, then you will find that, with this vision from God guiding you, the habits that you want to stick will become much easier, and your decisions will make more sense to you.

Here is an example of what you might write down:
I exist to love, glorify, and enjoy God forever.

Here is another one:
I exist to love God, love others, and love myself wholly and contextually.

Go to God and find out what he wants to be the driving force behind your actions, then you can move forward with a solid foundation.

Begin with the end in mind.

The second step is another ‘vision’ type exercise. This requires a bit of time as well, because you have to sit down and imagine what it is that life will look like when you get to the place that you want to be.

Once you have your vision, then what would it look like for you to fulfil that vision?If you were ever to ‘arrive’, what would that life look like? Take 5 years from now, or ten if you feel that you can see that far into the future, and ask yourself:
“If I am living life exactly as God wants me to at that moment, what does that life look like?”

This is important, because it give you something to aim for, and then you can work back from there. Let’s say that one of the things that you think you will be doing is to be taking regular breaks from work to spend more time with your kids, then you need to ask, what is it that I need to do now, in order to arrive at that place? It gives you something to shoot at.

What you’re essentially doing is reverse-engineering your lifetaking the end product, taking it apart, and asking, how do I get there?

This step might take even longer than the first, because you want to think pretty specifically about where you want to be, and this encompasses every area of your life, so work, family, friends, church, hobbies, all of it.
How much do you want to weigh? How many holidays do you want to have? How many kids? How old will they be? Where will you live? Will you own or rent?

The list goes on, but you get the idea, be as specific as you can when plotting this out, because the more specific you are, the better a chance you will have of succeeding.

Next, we will get practical:

What will help me to get there AND complete my mission.

This is the next step, to get really practical, and to plot out the steps that you will need to take to get to where you feel that God wants you to be. So take your five year vision, make sure that it aligns with the vision that God has given you for your life, and then break it down a year at a time.

Year one, what do I need to do – say you want to be 50 pounds lighter, how much do you need to lose in the first year to make that happen? Just 10 pounds, so what steps can you take this year to change your life, so that at the end of year one you have lost that 10 pounds, but have cultivated a lifestyle the means you can keep it off and lose another 10 in the next year?

You want to align these goals with your mission, so say your mission statement is similar to the second example above, you might say that part of loving myself is caring for my body and giving myself the best quality of life that I can, and part of that means that I need to weigh a certain amount less, this will then help me to be more effective at loving others and God. So you set a goal to weigh less, then it changes how you see that goal, because now it is about something bigger than yourself. So the two goals line up, then how do you break it down?
I want to start walking once a week, cut down my sugar intake, up my water drinking, stop drinking alcohol, eat out less. These are things that will help you to build the lifestyle that you want to be living in five years.

Once you’ve done this, then break it down even further:

Break it down to monthly, weekly, and daily goals.

This is where it gets insanely practical. Take that goal of losing a set amount of weight, and say how much do I need to lose each month? Each week? What do I need to do in order to make that happen? Then you will have a plan of attack to get to your goal by the end of the year. Do this for each area of your life, each of the goals that you have written down, and each of the ones that you have broken down into the five yearly goals.

Maybe you want to write a couple of books, and each book is 50,000 words long, and you need to write one every two and a half years. There are 52 weeks in a year, and 130 in two-and-a-half years, that means that you only need to write 385 words a week in order to produce 50,000 words in the right time, that is only 55 words a day! But if you make those 55 words count, if those are the best 55 words that you can write that day, then you are one your way to writing a great book.

Do this with each area, with all of your goals, and then you’ll be ready to take on the new year, and to start the journey towards a life that is fulfilling and rich with all the things that God has for you!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and that it has been helpful. As I said earlier, if you guys want some sort of expanded course that give more details, with videos etc., I’ve been thinking about doing something like this, and so if you’d like it, leave a comment or get in touch, and we can make it happen!

As a little bonus at the end, here are some tips and tricks to keep track of your goals:

  1. Start small and build yourself up – you don’t have to reinvent yourself overnight, incremental change is the best, and will stick the most.
  2. Maybe you will have to give up on some goals in order to achieve what is most important – be prayerful about this as you don’t want to add to an already full plate!
  3. Make sure that it is enjoyable for you to do. Or at least build some fun into it! Otherwise it is a chore and far less likely to stick!
  4. Use a bullet journal to track your goals.
  5. Use to track your goals.
  6. Use Evernote or Bear or the Notes app to track your goals and make plans
  7. Wunderlist is the original and still really good
  8. Habit stacking is a great way to build these habits that stick.
  9. This is going to require some discipline. This course might help you out.

Bless you guys heaps! Sorry about the longer article, but I pray that it has been helpful for you to start planning out the year ahead. Keep in touch!

Featured Image Credit:
unsplashAnnie Spratt

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