Just after Thanksgiving, the  question “What do you love most about this time of year?” was asked on facebook.

Here’s how I responded:

“For me, it’s the overall joyful atmosphere. It’s a time that we get to begin again. We celebrate new life because of Christ, and then we get to start a whole new year. Do more of what worked last year and less of what didn’t. It’s exciting to think about the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Christmas is over now, and we’re nearing the end of the first month of a new year.  Maybe you’re like me and you came into this year wondering “How did that happen? Wasn’t it just October last week? Well, ready or not, January came, and a whole new year of opportunity awaits.


I look at this time of year as a fresh start, a time to revisit my goals and dreams. Did you come into this year with a list of goals or resolutions? How did you determine what your goals for this year would be? Are they largely based on your weak areas, and things that you need to do better? If so, you’re not alone. I think that’s how most of us approach our New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, most of us have forgotten our resolutions by February. If your resolutions are already getting a little fuzzy, keep you reading. I have an idea that might help.


This year I’m going to propose a different strategy. Instead of spending the year fighting our weaknesses, how about we make our yearly goals and plans based on developing our personal strengths? Instead of constantly struggling against the negative in our lives, what would happen if we focus on building up the positives?


If you’re a journaling person, you’ll love this. If not, that’s OK, I’m not going to ask you to become one. (That would be fighting your weaknesses instead of building upon your strengths.) But I do ask you to go ahead and grab a piece of paper, or maybe that beautiful journal you bought and never use.


Grab a glass of cool water and find a comfy quiet spot. Think through the following questions and write your answers as you go. I hope this exercise will help you plan and live a year that you love.


What went well this year? Do more of that.

Really you could stop here, but just because I’m long winded, we’ll do a few more.


What are my strengths & gifts?

It’s stressful trying to be something you’re not. You’ll become a better, happier you, when you operate within your strengths instead of fighting your weaknesses. When you’re planning what activities you think you should do this year, and what habits you “should” develop, be careful to choose those things that fit who you are. Don’t choose something just because someone else thinks it’s a good idea.


What do I love to do?

What gives you hope and new energy? What makes you feel refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to get back to the hard work of life? Commit to spending more time doing that thing. God gave you interests for a reason.He wants you to be refreshed. He also uses your interests for his work.  He can take an ordinary thing, and use it for His purposes.


What hobby or skill would I like learn or get back to? 

This is not selfish. It renews your mind and your spirit, opening channels for you to overcome those pesky weaknesses we’re trying not to focus on!


What new habit do I want to develop? 

Pick something that inspires you, that you get excited about. No guilt- provoked habits here. Of course I want you to always be reaching, always growing. But choose carefully. Choose the changes that you personally feel drawn to through your time with God, and because you personally see the value of the habit in question. These are the changes that you’ll be successful with.


As you think about this new year already unfolding, consider what would make it a great year for you.  Answer these questions in your journal and then make some goals that are encouraging and inspiring… instead of those nagging, convicting resolutions we so willingly forget. Let’s not begin another year with a long list of things we dread, and reminders of our weaknesses. Let’s begin with hope, excitement, and courage that we can grow, we can create success, and we can enjoy the journey! 


Make it a great year!


p.s. I’d love to hear your thoughts. What things do you want to do this year to make it one you’ll love?

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