Way back in the halcyon days of January 2021, everyone figured this year was going to be different. 2020 had been an unmitigated disaster for a variety of reasons, but things were looking up. Vaccines were ahead of us. A bitter election was behind us. There was every reason to think things were looking up.
But looking back now, the flip from 2020 to 2021 wasn’t exactly night and day. Our country remains divided along deeply troubling lines. The pandemic continues to be a threat. We aren’t in the exact same place we were last year, but things don’t feel as different as we’d hoped.
Maybe that’s because we were expecting change to come to us instead of the other way around. Transformation is rarely an accident. It’s a deliberate process that we have to take on with intention. Achievable goals. Measurable progress. Daily commitment. Identifying the things you do have control over, and teaching yourself how to navigate them.
The circumstances of 2022 may or may not be different from 2021 but if this year taught us nothing else, it’s to not count on changing circumstances. At least, not when you could be changing yourself.
To help you out, we collected the advice of leaders in different realms of experience you might be interested in developing and improving in 2022. From personal physical goals to finances to your mental health to your spiritual walk, here are some concrete steps you can take to help ensure that no matter how much 2022 is — or isn’t — different from 2021, you will be a very different person by the time it’s over. All it takes is a little dedication to change.
The Expert: Dr. Peace Amadi, Psychology Professor and Author of Why Do I Feel Like This?
The 2022 Goal: Get a counselor who takes your spirituality seriously
Our faith is something to be incredibly proud of. It’s beautiful, it is our strength, it is our anchor. And that isn’t something that you ever need to feel that needs to be minimized or held back when you’re seeking any help or support.
I specifically say to people, when you’re looking for help, when you’re looking for a therapist and you’re consulting, tell them, “I am a person of faith, my faith is important to me. I see the world through these lenses. Is that something that’s going to be a problem? Or is that something we can explore?” And nine times out of 10, you’re going to get a therapist that is open to that and supportive of that and wIll know how to deal with that, because guess what? As a mental health professional, we’re also trained to take all of a person, all of their worldview, and explore how that intersects with their health and healing journey.
Sometimes mental health professionals get this bad rap that we’re just going to poo poo on people of faith. Actually, the research points to faith being one of the most protective factors that there is in a person’s life. We respect that as a field, whether the individual buys into that worldview or not. So it’s not something that people need to be worried about. It’s just a matter of awareness.
The Expert: Angela Manuel Davis, Former USA Track and Field Team Member, Co-founder of AARMY
The Goal: Rethink the purpose of fitness
I just think that people need to make fitness more of a specific priority. For me, the aesthetics of physicality has never been the priority. There is something so much more powerful that we can do in that moment.
At the end of the day, my belief system is that our body is what houses our gifts and talents. And really the point and purpose of getting strong in your body is to live the life you were intended to live. I just have a very specific intention behind the vehicle that fitness could be. It has really deepened my faith.
The Expert: Jon Acuff, New York Times bestselling author of Finish, Give Yourself the Gift of Being Done
The Goal: Learn the difference between “preparing” and “overthinking”
Overthinking is when what you think gets in the way of what you want.
A common question a lot of people ask is: “How do I know if I’m overthinking versus just being prepared?” Here’s how you know: Being prepared always leads to an action. Overthinking just leads to more overthinking. So be prepared, detailed, organized and analytical, but ask: what did that turn into? That’s the big difference.
There are a bunch of great books about the topic, but most of them say: “stop overthinking.” And I kept thinking, why would I ever turn off this amazing thinking machine? I’m very good at thinking. What if I just fed it with thoughts that pushed me forward, not thoughts that pulled me back?
Most people don’t understand they can choose their thoughts and can work on their thoughts. They think a thought is something you have, not something you hone. And when you realize you get to choose the thoughts you have, which end up choosing the actions and choosing the results, it changes everything.
The Expert: Lecrae, rapper, producer and host of the new financial web series “Protect the Bag”
The Goal: See money as more than just consumption
You have some people who see money as consumption instead of capital. And when you think of money as consumption, you’re just consuming. You’re not thinking about how to use it as a tool to make more of it so you can do helpful things.
As a believer, I want money to make money so I can use that resource to do other things with it. It’s like, you don’t want to buy a cow so that you can just cut it up and eat it and that’s it. You’re thinking, “how do I buy a cow, breed it, feed other people, milk it.” It’s a broader perspective that people don’t get. We tend to use money for more liabilities than assets. We tend to use it to get things that cost us more money instead of using it to get things that bring money or help us save money. That’s a principle that we miss out on.
The Expert: Dr. Derwin Gray, pastor and author of God, Do You Hear Me? Discovering the Power of a Prayer God Always Answers
The Goal: Change the way you pray
Prayer is the front door that opens up this beautiful home with all of these rooms. And in each room is an attribute of God, the ways of God, the passion of God. And we begin to walk in and we kind of say, “OK, this is what I need.”
But what you find is prayer is so much more than asking for what we need.
Prayer is not primarily about getting stuff. Prayer is intimacy with a Father that loves us. One of the beautiful things that Jesus did because in the Old Testament, God has various names that reveal his various actions. When Moses is being used by God to deliver the children of Israel, God gives him His sacred name: Yahweh. I Am that I Am. It means a self in eternal or mighty one. And throughout Scripture, we see that God is the Father of Israel and that Israel is called His son. And then when we see Jesus, He is the eternal son of God in human flesh. And He says for us to call him father, the aramaic, which Jesus used, was Abba.
The closest that we can get in English is the word pappa, a term of endearment. It’s a term of intimacy. It’s a term of tenderness. We serve a God who has all power and all tenderness. We serve a God who is just and who is gracious. These attributes are not in competition, but they overflow out of God’s divine love. God is love. So therefore He is Father. Therefore He is tender. Therefore He is just. Therefore He is holy.
So prayer is God saying, “I want you to see me. And I want you to learn from me. I want you to experience my power because you’re my image bearer and you will bear my image into the world.” That’s called worship.
When we reduce prayer to be a mantra or a spiritual ATM or superstition, we’re really not praying. We’re actually using God, and God doesn’t want to be used. God wants to be worshipped. Because when we worship, we become who we were created to be.