Ending the Old, Beginning the New

January 2, 2020

An often-quoted truth is, “You only live once, but once is enough if you get it right.” I believe that, and I have discovered a couple of processes that help me to use my life well.

First of all, I believe it is healthy and productive to spend a couple of hours looking back at the year that is ending. Sit with pen and notebook in hand and a calendar or your last year’s life planner beside you. Look at the things that happened. Check out the way you spent your time. Who did you encounter? What experiences did you have? What mistakes did you make? What lessons did you learn? What losses did you have? How are you recovering? What steps forward did you take? Are you still growing, moving forward? What’s the state of your heart as the year ends? For what are you most grateful?

Give yourself time to grieve your losses, celebrate your wins, be grateful for the presence of God. If you do this with your family, this is a tremendous experience, and you can make a big deal of celebrating everything good you accomplished together. Personally, check your heart for any person you need to forgive and release. Make sure you are holding no grudges and are living in healthy relationship as far as it depends on you. This gets you prepared for a new season. End your time by praising and thanking God. This positions you to fully embrace the new year God has in store for you. Looking back with thanksgiving is one of the best things you can do. Gratitude is the healthiest human emotion, and it puts you in a tremendous place.

Now it is time to look forward in faith.

What is it that you desire? What do you feel would actually honor God and help people if you accomplished it?

Financially Do you have debt you could/should reduce? How could you use your resources to build the kingdom of God and the people He loves? How can you prepare wisely for the future? Are there things you could/should do with your home/vehicles/time (like vacation time) that would create memories and make life more meaningful for your family? What could/should you do?

Relationally What relationships could be improved? Can you specifically design times and practices to move them along? What relationships should be restored? How can you pray about them and make efforts to rebuild them? Are there relationships you need to build? Are you being mentored by anyone? Are you building into anyone? Are you in a small group?

Career – What career moves might be wise for you? Are their new responsibilities or areas you would like to explore? This is the year to take these steps. Do you need more education? Do you need to network? How can you move forward?

Family – Are you intentionally building relationships within your family? Your extended family? Could you/should you set goals for regular phone calls? Interactions? Dates with your kids? Starting family devotions?

Marriage – Is your marriage still fun? Do you need to set goals for regular dates? A marriage retreat?

Spiritually – What about goals for personal Bible study? Regular worship with other believers? A character trait you believe God would want to grow in you?

Physically – What would improve your health? Doctor appointments you need?

You need goals. You know the old saying, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Perhaps an even greater truth is that if you do not intentionally set the direction you want to go, other people will set it for you, and you won’t even realize it is happening.

Why don’t you take the first few days of this new year to honestly look at last year and how this year could be more satisfying with some intentional changes? 2020 will be gone before you know it, and you will be so glad you did.