Oh. My. Goodness. I said this last year, and I will say it again: How did this year fly by so quickly?
I’m seriously shocked that tomorrow is the last day of two-thousand-seventeen. This year has been packed with God’s kindness through new adventures, hardships, and beautiful beginnings. I’ve learned so much this year, and I’m sad to see such a special twelve months come to an end!
But, life goes on, and I want to welcome 2018 with open arms. You with me? If you’re like me, you may be tempted to overload yourself with resolutions for the new year. You think you can handle a packed schedule and a boatload of new things to try…but, every year, you end up discouraged because you couldn’t meet your own expectations.
Well, a couple years ago, I discovered some little keys to having an awesome new year, and actually accomplish my goals. I wrote a little bit about this last year, but I wanted to give you a fresh post today. 🙂 So, before you dive into 2018, will you take a breath and consider these ways to narrow your focus? I promise you won’t regret it.
1) Prioritize spiritual growth
A friend of mine once said that the way to have a successful new year is to set one goal. I revolted a little when I first heard that, but the more I thought about it, the more convinced I was to try it. So I racked my brain for a single new year goal, and I settled on this: Be closer to Jesus at the end of the year than any year before.
Yep. Just one simple little goal.
If all else fails, I want to be able to end every year with confidence that I grew closer to the Lord. Even if other goals fall to the wayside or I fail to meet my own expectations, I want to truthfully say that I got know God better–that I learned more Scripture and applied it to my life in new ways–that I grew in grace and got a little better at loving people the way Jesus does. Don’t you?
Friend, your walk with God is the most important thing in your life, and He deserves the highest priority. I’m learning that when I put Him first and make spiritual growth my focus, everything else falls into place. He directs my plans so that I don’t use my time in vain. He adjusts my dreams to match His and empowers me to go after them.
Growing closer to Christ will help you focus on the things that matter. Give this new year to the Lord and ask Him what HE wants you to accomplish, and chase hard after Him. You might be surprised at the way each piece of your year falls into place.
When you put Him first, I promise there will never be a dull moment.
2) Choose a word of the year
I just started doing this this year, and it made my year so special and focused.
Here’s how it works:
Pick one word that you want to focus on in your year. It can be related to spiritual growth, yourself as a person, a word that encourages you, or even an action that you want to practice more. Then, throughout the year, look for ways to apply that word to your life.
Pay special attention when you see that word in Scripture, use it in your prayers, use it to encourage others, and ask God to teach you what that word really means. You can even keep a record of all your words of the year so you can look back and remember each year in a special way–with a theme. 🙂
In 2017, my word was “grace.”
For a long time, I’ve struggled with guilt–whether rooted in past mistakes, present downfalls, or absolutely nothing at all (false guilt). Understanding God’s love, and forgiveness, has been a huge strain for me in the past, and I was tired of doubting Him. I wanted a rich relationship with Him, but I couldn’t get past one question: Is His grace really sufficient? So, this year, I dug into the word “grace”–and wow–my heart has been refreshed and sanctified in ways I didn’t expect. Of course, I could never fully understand the grace of God, and I’m still learning to cast off perfectionism and lean on His sufficient grace.
But as I’ve asked God to assure me of His grace and help me understand what it means–as He’s refined me to embrace that grace and offer it to others–I feel so much more confident in the character of God. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that He is enough, and I’m seeing just how much my life hangs on that one word. Everything I have is by His grace. I didn’t do anything to earn God’s favor, and I never will…We never will.
“Grace” has taken on a whole new meaning to me, and as I continue to search for displays of it in Scripture and in everyday life, it becomes more and more special to me. I truly believe grace sums up Jesus Himself, and I never want to stop meditating on it.
Choosing one word for your year will help you narrow your focus and look at life through new lenses. You’ll notice verses of Scripture that you didn’t before, see Christ in a new light, and be able to set intentional goals. I hope you’ll give it a try!
P.S. You could even choose a theme verse to go with your word. This year, my favorite verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9 was mine. I haven’t decided on 2018’s verse yet, but I do have my word picked out. (Stay tuned to find out what it is;))
And that’s it!
Seriously, guys. I’m not playin’ when I say these things work. In a world of clutter and mile-long-lists of resolutions, lets throw out the excess and focus on what matters. Make 2018 a year for the books. ❤
I hope this new year is incredibly for you, and I pray God heals any wounds from past years, that He speaks love to the deepest parts of your heart, and that you grow closer to Him than ever before.