It's that time of year for the famous phrase, "In January, I am going to (fill in the blank)." The new year gives us the opportunity to change our diet, drop a habit, or start something new. Unfortunately, only 8% of these New Year Resolutions come to fruition. In my own life, I've stopped creating New Year's Resolutions. If I'm honest, there are some resolutions from 10 years ago I have yet to accomplish.
Though there is nothing wrong with planning to be great, we must also do the work.
Even more than just taking action steps, we must evaluate if there are deeper heart issues that cause us to repeat the same patterns. Without truly evaluating ourselves and making mental preparation for the new year, we are only fooling ourselves. Quite simply...
If you fail to plan, plan to fail.
Purposeful and God-driven planning is essential for growth. In 18 months, I have seen God's favor like never before. I have received multiple job offers, radio interviews, purchased a new home, wrote for top Christian publications, had a child that the Lord promised, and developed a boldness that I never imagined I would walk in.
I say this, not to brag, but to show you that God will bless your diligence and hard work. Although the Lord could certainly "grace you through" your mess and do it all for you, He asks us to complete our part of the deal.
With this in mind, I want to empower you with 6 strategies that helped me transition from just wanting great things to happen to seeing God move radically on my behalf. These are not just helpful for starting a new year but for any situation where God is calling you to do something new.
1.) Check Your Perspective
Before you start making goals, drawing vision boards, or making checklists, you must check your perspective. Do you struggle with low expectation? Are you used to people not "showing up"? Do you struggle with self-doubt? Is your perspective defeated or victorious?
Perspective shapes atmospheres.
Proverbs 23:7 tells us that "as a man think, so he is." In other words, your thought life sets the foundation for your behavior. Psychology teaches that our thoughts create neural pathways. These pathways will have a direct impact on our resulting behavior. Negative thoughts, negative behavior. With that being said, when we consider the desires of our hearts we have to ask ourselves a question.
Are we defeated before we even start?
Recently, I did a Facebook post explaining that we must recognize that our past cannot set the foundation for how we see our future. We have to get to a place where we allow God's words and His promises to be our truth. Without a firm recognition of who we are in Christ, our perspective will always distorted. We won't fully believe He will do it for "us."
How can we fully embrace what God is calling us to do when we don't even believe in His ability to work through our imperfections and past mistakes?
We must check our perspectives and do a true evaluation on whether our thoughts are lining up to His word.
2.) Find A Verse To Stand On
Years ago, my mentor, Audrey Bigelow, taught me the value of finding a verse of the year. Mrs. Bigelow, a well-sought after speaker in the DC area, spends every December empowering many to find a scripture that will set the tone for your year. She has decades worth of her own and stories to share. After years of just thinking it was a good idea, I decided to give it a try. Each December, I would spend time in prayer asking the Lord to show me the verse that would carry me through the year.
In 2017, my verse of the year was, "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near" (Philippians 4:5). Sure enough, 2017 was the most trying year of my life. From ended friendships, to disappointments in ministry, to the death of my father-in-law there were situations all around where I needed to be gentle, even when I didn't want to be. In 2018, my verse was Romans 8:28, "All things work together for the good of those who love Him." This year there were several disappointments that required me to have this attitude of victory. Every time I faced a situation that was full of despair, this verse would become my filter for how to respond. This has become such an intricate part of my life. In fact, things that would once devastate me now make me think, "Nice try devil, God is going to use this for my good!"
Having a verse of the year allows you to have personal reminder for every interaction. It gives you something to counteract your daily experience. For example, if you have struggled with weight your entire life, your verse of the year may be 1 Corinthians 16:19. "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own." With this as your verse, you will be reminded of the importance of seeing our bodies as His. Which means when we honor our body by being in good health, we are also being appreciative to the Lord for giving us life. With this as our verse, our New Year's Resolution of "losing weight" would now become a lifestyle change of honoring our temple. Do you see the difference? One is superficial, the other signifies heart change and wisdom!
For those who prefer, you can also have a "word of the year." Your word of the year can be characteristics of God like love, hope, peace, or patience as found in Galatians 5:22. Another idea is for your word to be more of a theme like courageous, resilience, or fearless. Much like the verse of the year, your word will become your personal filter for the world around you. I share more on how to choose a word of the year on iBelieve.com.
3.) Take An Inventory of Your Time
In order to be successful in your goals, you must consider your ability to manage your time. This time of the year is NOTORIOUS for people wanting to cut off relationships. I apologize for any disappointment, but that is not my suggestion for you today. Instead, I am asking you to consider how you manage your overall time. Do you spend a lot of time on social media? Do you waste time procrastinating? Do you overstretch yourself with commitments?
The Bible reminds us the importance of being mindful of our time.
Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise,making the most of your time-Ephesians 5:15
Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Being aware that we are not promised tomorrow, we must use our time wisely. See the new year as a fresh start. Ask the Lord to show you ways to "reclaim your time." It is quite possible that there are some things you are a part of that you need to politely remove yourself from. In doing so, you will gain more time to do what God is calling you to do.
4.) Write The Vision
And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.- Habbakuk 2:2
Something powerful happens when we write the vision or plan. Merriam Webster defines vision as the "power to see." When we take time to write out what we feel God is leading us to do this gives us the "power to see" what can become. In December 2016, I created my first vision board as a tangible way to plan for 2017. Before starting, I prayed for what would be on my board. On my board, I shared my desires to own a home, start a blog, write a book, and have another child. I took my board and hung it on the wall beside my bed. Every morning, this was the first thing I saw. This would serve as a physical reminder of what I was believing God for. Even more so, these became my personal prayer points. Therefore, it came as no coincidence when I started to see the very things on my board take place within the next 18 months. The Lord gave me the vision and because it was clearly written and prayed over, I as able to truly "run with it."
Write out your vision. Make it easy to understand. Pray Over It. Run With It.
5.) Strategic Goals
Resolutions are ideas. Goals are purposeful in-depth statements. In order for a goal to be attainable, certain things must be in place. Without these things, your goals will be very difficult to accomplish because you will have no direction.
Professor Robert Rubin coined the term "S.M.A.R.T." goals when sharing the most effective ways to accomplish tasks. He believed that goals must contain the following elements.
Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
Achievable (agreed, attainable).
Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)
Consider the following examples:
Person A- I want to lose weight this year.
Person B- I want to lose 20 pounds by June. I will do so by joining a gym, working out 3 times a week, and eating a healthy diet. In doing so, I should lose 1.5-2 pounds per week. I will utilize a fitness app to maintain accountability with my friends. By losing 20 pounds, I will be healthier and able to do thing easily that normally exhaust me.
It is obvious that the see that the second person’s goal statement is more viable. It gives clear direction and purpose. I challenge you to create SMART goals. This will give you the ability to take your desires and turn them into a reality.
6.) Give Yourself Permission To Forget
I have noticed that one major roadblock to pursuing our future is having our mind stuck in the past. Disappointments, failures, regrets, and more become the foundation for our thoughts. As we attempt to do something brave, there's a little voice that calls us to be fearful of "it happening again." Today, you may need to ask God to help you have "spiritual amnesia" so that you can move forward. In my own life, I would hold on to pain as a way to protect myself from making the same mistake twice. However, I have so much freedom now that I have decided to let it go! We must let go of the offenses that have kept us so angry at others and the guilt that reminds us of the times we’ve failed. Now is the time to embrace the NEW thing God is doing and you cannot do so while being trapped in the past.
I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus- Philippians 3:13
With these 6 tips in mind, this year is sure to be your year of victory! I am believing that the Lord will grant you favor and wisdom on how to move forward in your purpose. There is no greater time than the present to move forward and dream big with God.
There is no goal too little to give to our God. He cares about every detail of our lives!
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