Don’t just resolve to lose the holiday pounds!
Instead, resolve to take a solid step towards being the person you were meant to be.
The reason we all feel the need to get moving, or drop our bad habits each new year is because we know in our hearts we are not living up to our potential. We haven’t been showing off our best self. We know we are capable of more!
But the mistake we fall into is not picking the right next step for ourselves. Coming out of the “Binge Season” – binge eating, binge watching, binge merry-making – most of us figure that any new activity that’s considered good for us, like eating more veggies or hitting the gym, is all we need.
But then three weeks later no new or improved habits have formed, and we are back to just dealing with the hustle of life, destined to repeat the process in eleven more months.
Rather, use this quick, introspective tool to choosing the right, next best step for you. A year from now you want to see concrete advancement towards becoming the person God intended you to be, the person your loved ones need most, the person your coworkers consider to be invaluable!
Step 1: Avoid conventional wisdom when it comes to goal setting.
I’d say that your typical “self-help” approach to goal setting looks something like this. Get a piece of paper and design your “ideal” life.
Write down things like:
Your desired income
What kind of car you’ll drive
Where you’ll live
What kind of house you’ll have
Who your clients and coworkers will be
Your physical & mental condition
The quality of your relationships
What your spiritual life will be
What trips you’ll take, etc., etc.
Sound familiar? It’s the oldest lie in the world. In fact I think it sounds like the modern equivalent to the one Adam and Eve heard in the garden…be your own god.
This approach may get your mental juices flowing, but ultimately only produces two types of behavior: manipulative and narcissistic. And if you were to pursue those goals you would end up just creating situations or circumstances that could be fleeting – not becoming a person fully alive.
“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” -Jesus
In Reality: It’s Seek Ye First, Not Seek ME First!
“But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”
To put this verse in perspective, Jesus was teaching and explaining how the non-religious of his day, the worldly pagans of society, sought food, shelter, clothing, etc., first. He turned that conventional wisdom upside down by announcing a new path to life-long happiness.
With a simple adjustment to our perspectives, we can forego the circumstantial comforts we crave at the moment, and fix our sites on what we all truly want in life – to be someone fully alive. That’s who God intended you to be, that’s who your loved ones need and that’s who your coworkers value most.
Step 2: Get real with yourself.
Shifting your perspective is just ten quick questions away.
How’s your health? (Let’s start with an easy one)
How’s your marriage? (if married)
What kind of spouse are you prepared to be? (if not)
How are your relationships with your family?
How’s your effort at work?
Did you go out of your way to help someone last year?
What did you freely give away last year (time, talent, treasure)?
Who do you need to forgive?
Are you emotionally centered or frayed?
Are you praying enough?
As you ponder these things in your heart, you’ll feel the interior compass pointing you in a certain direction. Take control of what you can control.
Step 3: Plan your best next steps.
Now rephrase the above questions to arrive at your next steps on the way to becoming your best self.
Name one thing you should do to improve your health:__________
Pick one thing you can do to make sure your spouse knows how much you love them:__________
Pick one thing you can do to prepare yourself, for your future spouse’s lifelong commitment to you:__________
Pick one family relationship you want to improve this year, and ask God for guidance and partnership in the endeavor:___________
Name one action you can consistently perform this year that will positively impact your workplace:____________
Pick someone you can help, without repayment of any kind, this year:____________
Make a list of all the ways you can use your time, talent and treasure to increase your generosity over last year:____________
Name the person you need to forgive:________________ Now ask God for His help in releasing them of the debt they owe you, in your heart. (Don’t be surprised if this turns out to be a regular part of your prayer life.)
Look at your daily/weekly routines and decide where quiet time and stillness can be cultivated, for prayer and scripture:____________
Commit to reading one line or verse from the Bible each day (start with one of the Gospels). Then spend a few minutes thinking about it. Finally, ask God how you can apply it to your life.
Step 4: Review and repeat.
Now that we have the resolution of working towards our best selves, and each of us has our own, unique next steps towards that goal, we have almost 365 days to practice. Keep this guide handy. Pace yourself. Also, give yourself grace when you slip up, but hold yourself accountable to restarting when it’s needed.
And remember all along the way, both God and myself are in your corner. You can reach out to either one of us anytime if you get stuck. Keep in mind you’ll get better answers from God, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try.
Happy new year, my friends. Here’s to making 2018 a year of more!
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