New Year: Ready, Set, Goals!

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” -Proverbs 16:3

The long awaited day has come: Farewell 2020. Hello 2021! This past year has been a great challenge to everyone. Almost all people were affected by this unpredictable year in some way or another. 2020 began as a year full of joy and optimism, but it quickly descended into chaos. For those of us who have Jesus as our anchor (Hebrews 6:19), we’ve been able to conquer this year with peace and strength, though I’m sure none of us would volunteer to repeat it. As we long for the fresh start of 2021, we must also remind ourselves that we cannot simply press a reset button and start over from scratch. The reality we are in now, will follow us into the new year. There is still plenty of room for the hope of a new beginning, but let’s not set ourselves up for disappointment by ignoring our current reality. Regardless of what you believe about the pandemic or the U.S. election, the truth is that we are still in the middle of multiple crises. However, we can completely trust that God has a glorious plan and he is working it out. We must be patient and remember that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). As we prepare to welcome in the new year, I invite you to consider some practical insights with me.

New Year’s usually leads most of us into a time of reflection. We examine our lives, decide what we want to do differently and then create resolutions that we tackle with great willpower and optimism on January 1st. Most of us also experience some short-lived success until our willpower gives out to what we are most comfortable doing by the end of January. I personally have never liked the idea of creating resolutions. The very word seems to set me up for failure. Have you felt the heavy pressure to change yourself? I know I have. A few years ago, I started setting goals instead of resolutions. I found that writing a few realistic goals were easier to achieve and didn’t require me to try to change myself, but rather be intentional about moving in a certain direction. Instead of feeing like a failure by the end of January, I found that I was actually accomplishing many of the goals I set each year. I may not meet every goal, but now I celebrate even the progress that gets me closer to where I want to go. It’s a refreshing mindset shift. Since 2020 has already been such a different sort of year, let’s take this opportunity to try a different approach to our new year. I encourage you to make time over the next few days to:

  1. Reflect over your life and examine your heart. What do you love about yourself? What needs improvement? Be honest with yourself. Thank God for his work in your life and give him the areas you need transformation in. The good news is Jesus has the power to change what you could never change in yourself in a million lifetimes! Our willpower is no match for the blood of Jesus. Leave your sin, failures and disappointments at the cross and breathe the fresh air of freedom in Christ. 2021 is a new beginning!
  2. Dream big! What are your passions and desires? What does your heart long for? Remind yourself of God’s good promises to you. What is your promised land? What mountain of influence are you called to conquer? 2021 is your year to ADVANCE and RECOVER all! Make a list of your dreams and desires. Pray over it and thank God for his promises. Choose to believe these dreams can become a reality. Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Reality must bend to the Word of God, not the other way around.
  3. Set challenging (yet realistic) goals. What direction do you need to move in this year to accomplish your dreams? Turn those dreams into goals for 2021. Write them out, as well as the smaller steps needed to accomplish them. You can even write down the dates you are aiming to complete each step by. Maybe you dream of competing in a marathon, but right now you are winded after running a mile. Set smaller goals for yourself each month and slowly build up your endurance. Share your goals with a friend or family member for accountability. Speaking your goals out loud will make them more concrete. What resources are needed to meet your goals? Post your goals somewhere you can review them weekly or monthly to help you stay on track. Celebrate and rejoice over every step you take and each goal you accomplish. Love yourself even when you fail because God does.

Put simply, let’s reflect, dream and set goals. With Jesus on our side, there is nothing we can’t accomplish for His kingdom. The Apostle Paul cheers us on saying, “If God is for us, who can be against us?… we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:31, 37). There will always be people who will oppose you. Satan will always try to discourage you with doubt and fear. However, the Word of God promises us that all things are possible with Jesus (Matthew 19:26). We can enter 2021 with worship and joyful expectation, knowing that our victory is assured and we are on the winning side. Let’s commit all our ways to the Lord this year and watch as he establishes our plans (Proverbs 16:3). We will accomplish feats we never thought possible!

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