Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow. Psalm 144:4
It seems like just yesterday that I was in my bedroom watching as the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve of 1999. It was probably the most exciting New Year’s celebration because it was the beginning of a new millennium. I was 13 years old and that was 12 years ago! The time has flown by since the much anticipated Y2K.
Reading Psalm 144 today reminded me that all of life is like this. We are here for but a moment in time. We really don’t have time to make resolutions that we’re not going to keep. We were created to make a difference in this life (remember Jesus said, “You ARE the salt of the earth… You ARE the light of the world”), but we have limited time to make an impact. Therefore, we must make every effort to make our lives count.
Let that be our focus as we enter into this New Year (2012). We need to do more than just make resolutions; we need to make commitments that will help us live the life we were created for, a life of influence. This means evaluating our past, making goals to help us become more influential in the future, and setting up the right kind of accountability to make it happen. Here are a few suggestions to help make your goals happen in 2012:
What has your life been about? Are you making the kind of impact you’d like to be making? Spend time evaluating your life to this point. Ask yourself probing questions about your spiritual life (i.e. Am I continually surrendering to God? Am I becoming more like Christ, making Him my number one priority? Is my love for other increasing? How much time am I giving to my relationship with God in prayer and Scripture reading? Do others recognize Jesus as my Lord? Am I sharing my faith?), physical life (i.e. Am I eating right? Am I exercising? Am I getting enough sleep?), financial life (i.e. Am I saving adequately? Have I been generous with helping others? Am I tithing?), family life (i.e. Am I meeting the needs of my spouse? Have I been intentional about leading my spouse and children to Christ? Am I honoring my parents?), and your mental/emotional life (i.e. Am I doing the things that refresh me? Am I taking time to read and reflect? Am I in community?). This is about you. Create your own probing questions. The key is to evaluate what your life has looked like in the past so that you can be better prepared to make an impact in the future.
This is a time of reflection. Look at your answers and determine what needs to change in your life. Most likely you will find multiple areas in your life that you wish to change. So, this is the place to make some broad goals (i.e. I need to take of my physical body. This is the time that I need to focus on sharing Jesus with my friends and neighbors. I need to be more financially responsible).
Goals will remain goals until you have an action plan for getting things accomplished. This is where you can make your “resolutions.” These resolutions should be specific and trackable. For example, if you are looking to get in shape, one action step may sound like this, “I will exercise three times a week for thirty minutes.” If you’re looking to spend time in God’s Word, your action step might sound like this, “I will read through the Bible this year by finding a Bible reading plan and sticking with it every day.” If you are not giving to your church, you might make an action step that simply says, “I will tithe weekly.” You may have multiple actions steps (I have already identified a few in my life that I hope to implement in 2012). Also, because you want to be as specific as possible, it’s also helpful to set aside times to accomplish particular goals. When you do this make sure to mark it off on your calendar so that your time can go uninterrupted.
This is the final step, but just as important as the others. It’s all about accountability. As a personal testimony, I can tell you that the times that I’ve gone without accountability were the times that I failed to meet goals and the times that I had others to keep me on schedule were the times that I finished what I set out to accomplish. Find a friend or a family member that can ask you about your progress this year. Also, set aside time to meet with that person weekly or at least monthly. This way you’ll be able to keep them informed about your progress. This will be a motivating factor for you as you consider accomplishing your goals. Having this kind of accountability also keeps you focused when you fail to meet a goal (your accountability partner will make sure that you get back on track). *Don’t have someone to keep you accountable? Then start a blog and post your progress for others to see!
I hope 2012 is the best year of your life. I’m praying for you!