It’s a new year, a new day, and much has been written about resolutions and goals. Nowadays, it is more the “norm” than rebellious to expound on all the reasons to skip New Year‘s resolutions and goals.
It’s a cop-out. I understand that most people fail to succeed or maintain their resolutions. We have shifted from abandoning our goals after a month or two of weak effort to an “I’ll show them” attitude and quit setting goals altogether.
People think, I’ll be a rebel and go against the tide. It will be the ‘no goal New Year.’
But it isn’t against the tide anymore. It is the status quo.
Don’t Just Want To, Go Make A Difference
Yet, throughout the rest of the year and over the decades, articles, books, podcasts, and every other form of media consistently speculate that what the human spirit cares about most is having a life that counts, understanding the meaning of life, and making a difference.
How do you make a measurable difference if you just meander through life without direction? “I don’t need goals, budgets, or plans.” Why? Because you don’t want to feel bad if you fail? Or worse yet, you never give them much effort anyway, so why bother when it’s a self-fulfilling pattern of failure?
I personally love the New Year as it provides a chance to turn to a blank page in my future life. Like a canvas or new journal, I feel the anticipation of the first ink or mark. Each day, we get a blank slate on who we will be and what difference we can and will make in the world. A new year feels bigger. It is more directional. What big-picture shifts in direction or continuation of a journey await?
Tactically, I have experimented with every version of annual planning. I have done the SMART goals, created long dream lists, and circled a few to tackle for the year. In the last decade, picking your “word” of the year, or three has been a popular guide for a new year.
A Process for Creating Meaning and Embracing Life in the New Year
The tool doesn’t matter. For me, the process helps in many ways:
I reflect on the year gone by. This is important and cathartic. Most of us, myself included, focus on the bad things that happen on a given day or week. We journal about negative emotions and ruminate on situations we wish would disappear.
By intentionally recapping the good, the bad, and the ugly, we see a more balanced view of the recent past.
Reviewing the year almost inevitably leads me to gratitude. So what if interest rates were high, we lost a critical account, and I finally got Covid. I also welcomed two grandsons into the world this year.We found a new office building after a 3-year search, and I enjoyed 365 days of sunrises and sunsets in my new blessing of a home.
Lord, my heart is filled with gratitude for your gifts.
I always want to give back. I desire for the Lord to use me for His purpose. This sentiment begins to set my intentions for the new year.
How can I help?
Who can I help?
How can I make a difference?
Although I like the idea of a new canvas, a clean slate, it is more like a new section in a long, richly colored tapestry of a 59-year life. What new stories will be woven into this fabric of life?
Sharpen the Saw
And lastly, how do I sharpen the saw to be prepared for this chapter and the next? What skill do I need to practice, what paradigm do I need to shift, or what lifestyle should I embrace to be the best version of myself to achieve my goals and resolutions?
This is my process of determining the course for the coming year. The goals and resolutions are more the strategies, tactics, and metrics for moving down the path.
Better Late than Never
Having Covid the last week of the year put my thoughts into a dense fog. At this point, my goals and resolutions are usually locked and loaded. I am still fine-tuning, but I can say that I feel God calling me to closer relationships, more profound work, more creativity, and to release any “past” that may be holding me back from the future the Lord has planned.
I have reviewed the past year, and I am deeply grateful. But I can see things in myself that need to go.
Thankfully, that is something I can influence. Changing others is impossible and exhausting. I feel that for God to fully use me for His purposes, I must let go of any resentments, bitterness, or unforgiveness. As the new year unfolds, space for a creative view of life will open new doors and possibilities.
When I paint or write, my creative happy place, I am fully in the moment. By practicing my art, I will learn to be more present, fully living this year, and be more available for building relationships and diving deeper into meaningful work.
As you can see, I am still a distance away from a SMART goal, but I am all in for setting and trying to achieve goals and resolutions that will bring me closer to God’s will for me in 2024.
How about you? Are you ready to commit to a meaningful life of living out God’s will for you in 2024?
I would love the company on this journey.