We all know how most New Year’s resolutions unfold: the gym is annoyingly over-crowded in January, Whole Foods meets thousands of new customers and “fun funds” become “saving funds” in many bank accounts. And as the year progresses, so does our desire to skip the gym after a long day at the office, to say ‘yes’ to pizza, and to just buy the shoes.
In a recent study conducted by The University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology, research shows us the top three resolutions for 2016 were: lose weight, get organized, and spend less/save more. However, out of the 45 percent of Americans who usually make resolutions, only a small 8 percent ever achieve their resolution. Interestingly enough, out of the 45 percent who do make resolutions, the twentysomething generation takes the lead in success with a 39 percent rate.
Whether you’re a twentysomething, a thirtysomething or a baby boomer, here’s the reality: You only have a few days left in 2016 to ask yourself: “Was it everything I hoped it would be?”
As we say hello to 2017, here are three ways you can make 2017 the best year yet.
Get back to the main thing.
Wake up every morning and fix your eyes on Jesus.
Out of all of the ways and suggestions we could consider in casting the vision for our new year, fixing our eyes on Jesus is the most important one. When we fix our eyes on His ways, His mercies and His new beginnings, we begin to evaluate our life with a Heavenly perspective. Life is messy, and unpredictable and will not always go the way we resolve, but if we focus on Jesus first and foremost, we can still say it is well when resolutions, plans, and goals may fall apart.
To fix your eyes on Jesus and His plan for your 2017, begin with small steps. Shifting our focus away from our own plans and ideas and directing them to Jesus requires us to spend time with Him daily.
Resolve to set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual, brew a cup of coffee and spend time in his presence. Don’t have time before you head out the door to work? Resolve to change the atmosphere in your car on the drive to work and listen to worship music to fix your mind on Him for the day. When you fix your eyes on Jesus, you wake up with a true heart of joy and begin to rejoice and be glad in the day He has set before you (Psalm 118:24). When you do this, His plans and thoughts for you become your plans and thoughts for you. You begin to walk in the way of the Lord.
Cast a vision.
Picture this: instead of making a single New Year’s resolution, you take a vision day. You pack your favorite notebook, your laptop, your family, your closest friends, whomever, and you cast a vision for your new year. Reflect on your spiritual, relational, personal, and work goals and performance in 2016. Think about your areas of growth and your areas of opportunity. Look back at your accomplishments and successes, and lament over your losses and failures. Take a step back, evaluate the year, and think, “What do I do with all of this in 2017?”
Cast your vision. Determine goals you’d like to achieve financially, relationally, spiritually and physically, and then you determine small steps that you will need to take to visibly see these goals come to pass. It begins with small steps to make a huge difference in your life. Only 64 percent out of all Americans who made resolutions maintained their resolution after one month. Don’t become a part of that 64%. Don’t set out to achieve one, daunting, and slightly unrealistic goal to improve one area; instead, set out to cast the vision for your entire life.
I highly recommend glancing over your January calendar and scheduling a vision day, otherwise it won’t happen. Taking the opportunity brings fresh perspective, purposeful planning, and a much-needed spirit, mind and body evaluation. My husband and I recently had our vision day for 2017 with one another. We went with an open mind, open heart and open spirit. We sat with our prayers, thought about big God-sized dreams and, with intentionality, reviewed our past year, discussed the upcoming year and cast the vision for us, both individually and our family. Ultimately, we want to cast a vision that propels us forward into our calling and God’s plans for our lives. Where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). Don’t perish.
Speak life and purpose every single day.
Research shows that those who see success from their New Year’s resolution have a heightened self-awareness and practice self-forgiveness. Researchers describe disciplined, successful resolution-makers as staying solution-oriented. To see change and success in 2017, it begins with us practicing self-discipline with our words. To see fruit from your goals and vision, be a fountain, not a drain to yourself. Speak life, speak purpose, speak God’s strength over yourself every day, in every moment of weakness and in every moment of strength.
What if you stepped into the new year with an unshakeable confidence? What if you woke up on January 1, 2017 and spoke life and purpose and success over, not just your resolutions, but your entire life: your walk with God, your children, your finances, your health, your career, everything?
Let your upcoming year be more than just checking your New Year’s resolution off the list. Let it be more than practicing an active lifestyle and saving money. Though these are all good and important, you often will experience many roadblocks in this resolution that, in return, produces defeat, frustration and doubt. Think and speak words of life and purpose over 2017. Disciplined people are kind and forgiving of themselves and empower others with their words of life and purpose.
What’s important to consider as we decipher the difference between a God-sized vision and a ‘New Year’s resolution’ is in a God-sized perspective, we have the user manual to follow: God’s Word. How can God’s Word direct your vision on a clear path for 2017? How are you centering your focus on what the Word says to assure your year is a ‘God-sized-Vision-For-His-Glory’ and not a ‘New-Year’s-Resolution-For-Me’?
As you cast your vision, seek the Word to carry out the vision. Seek the Word to direct and guide your footsteps. Seek the Word to put your vision into action and do everything in the natural to make it come to pass. Remind yourself that growth is good, and refuse to see your vision fall by the wayside.
Think of your new year as an opportunity to experience growth as a person: as a child of God, as a spouse, as a parent, as an employee, as an artist, as an athlete, etc. Growth is good, and actually biblical. Colossians 1:10 says, “Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.”
To see any vision, any goal, any plan come to pass, we must first fully believe and declare that with God for us, nothing can be against us (Romans 8:31). With God working in us, nothing can work against us. With God leading us, nothing can detour us from His victory, growth, strength, and vision. When we’re growing, we’re learning. When we’re learning, we’re stepping further and further into God’s calling for our lives.
God has so much in store for you in 2017. He has a new beginning waiting for you to see change and breakthrough. He has a new season He’s prepared for you just right around the corner.
But first, you have to cast the vision. As Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.”
Write your vision, make it plain and run confidently into 2017.