new year what will you doWelcome to the new year friends! Coming back from the holidays often involves mixed emotions. I find it can be bittersweet for one year to end and another one to begin, but I do love the clean slate that comes with a new calendar year. But, before diving into this new year, I’d suggest taking a moment in this transition. One of the most important skills we can learn is becoming more self-aware. To do this we must take the time to look back and reflect on the previous season picking out the moments that stand out—including the ones that went well and those that did not. Consider journaling what was the differentiating actions you took (or didn’t take) and the outcomes that resulted. In the Bible, the word used for this is ‘Selah’ or pause.

In this ‘turning of the page’ moment ponder what emotions come up.. Now maybe some of you did this between Christmas and New Year’s and you may be ready to dive into planning 2022. But if you did not, this moment is important. After this pause, we can more clearly consider where we want to go both personally and professionally. Some people like to do vision boards, some like writing it down in bullet points. Find a strategy that inspires you most.

In your dreaming and planning consider this: if you and I could travel forward one year from today and look back on the past 365 days, what needs to happen for you to feel great about your 2022? Is it:

  • Getting physically or mentally healthier (lose weight, change your diet, exercise, prayer, meditate, seek counseling),
  • Improve your financial position (save more for rainy days, increase your retirement savings, cut unnecessary expenses),
  • fulfill a life dream (marriage, parenting, travel) or
  • deepen your spiritual life (join a church, small group, bible study, read Scripture)?

One thing that continues to plague many of us and could thwart our goals is “busyness”. Despite the apps and technology to help manage our time, we seem to continue to lose margin in our lives. One of the best shifts to consider would be going from time management to capacity management. Each thing we choose to do requires both time and energy. Not all one-hour tasks are created equal.

How can we practically go into 2022 with new priorities?

  • Schedule your priorities first. You may have seen the exercise where someone is filling big rocks, small rocks, and sand in a jar. If you don’t put the big rocks in first there won’t be room for them. So, if you don’t take care of your health, your family, your faith, and your finances first then chances are your foundation will crumble.
  • Say “No”. If you get asked to do something this year you are not really excited about then simply pass. (You will not die of FOMO – Fear of Missing Out). And did you know that ‘No’ is a complete sentence?
  • Pick one small habit/routine to change for 90 days. We say 90 days because that is how long it takes to create a habit. Here are just a few ideas:
    • Eliminate soft drinks and increase your water intake,
    • Download a Bible app or other devotional app and listen to it while you are getting ready or on way to work; ideally, before you scroll on social media,
    • Keep up with your steps on your phone and shoot for 5,000 daily,
    • Eat dinner with your family. Require everyone to put their phones in the center of the table.
    • Plan a trip to some place new this year,
    • Take five minutes at the end of the day to pause and reflect. Celebrate where you accomplished your goals and learn about what to do differently on the things you were not so successful with. Learn to be self-aware more often. Be gentle with yourself.

We cannot control our future. We cannot even control everything that happens each day, but we can control our choices, our daily habits and how spend our time, energy, money. Those daily incremental decisions and choices will help build a better future one day at a time.