Some people call them resolutions, and I have no problem with that really, except that I think for many New Year’s resolution has come to mean good intention we will never follow through on.
But whatever you call it, New Year’s goal-setting is a great idea! While we can make changes to our life at any time, the New Year offers a clean slate and an obvious starting point that can make changes a little easier and more intentional.
But where should we begin with the goal-setting? Some areas are probably more obvious to us than others, but here are 7 categories you might want to consider when setting your goals for the new year. (And keep in mind some goal plans could overlap several of these areas at the same time.)
I hope this is a starting place for all of us. Where do we need to be spiritually and what things can we change in the New Year to help us get there?
Perhaps we need to look for ways to carve out more time in our day for prayer and/or Bible reading and study. Maybe our church attendance has become more spotty and we know collective worship and fellowship with other believers needs to be a higher priority in our lives. Maybe our time spent in service to others has become rare or nonexistent and we need to find ways to be less about ourselves and more about reaching out to others with our time, energy, and finances.
The Physical Body
This is generally the one everybody thinks of first! Who hasn’t at some point considered their need to lose a few pounds after weeks of holiday indulging?
But when considering physical goals for the new year, there are actually lots of areas to think about. Even if we aren’t over-eating, are we eating well? Should we make changes to the way we cook and shop for groceries? What about sleep? Are we getting enough of it and what changes can we make to ensure we’re getting the rest we need?
And of course there’s exercise. Gym membership goes up in January, of course, but very few people stick with it through an entire year. If you know you need to exercise more and a gym is an option, awesome! Find ways to make gym visits a regular part of your schedule. If a gym is impractical because of your location, time, or money limitations, then determine to find an exercise regimen that will work at home. (Even when I was a mom to littles and living in a tiny house, it was not impossible to work out! It wasn’t easy, but I could do it when I really wanted to!)
Mental and Emotional Health
If you think this one isn’t needful or important, you’re missing it. We can debate all the reasons behind it, but there’s no question anxiety and depression are rampant in our culture. It’s time we stop dismissing it and start identifying some of the things that contribute to it.
Now is a good time to evaluate the “clutter” in your life and on your calendar. What can you eliminate to help restore some peace of mind? Sometimes it may be as simple as resigning from a committee, turning down an invitation, or being humble enough to ask for help in some particularly stressful areas of your life.
This goes back to setting goals for your physical body, but keep in mind your mental and emotional health are easily impacted by your sleeping and eating habits. What makes you healthier in one area may very well make you healthier in the other.
This is a tricky issue and goal-setting in this area can be tough. Healthy relationships do so much to encourage mental and emotional well-being, while bad relationships do much to destroy it.
So maybe there’s a family member you find yourself at odds with. What baby steps can you make in the New Year to start working toward healing with that person? Sometimes a willingness to forgive, a little kindness and compassion, and lots of prayers for patience can go a long way toward making things right.
That said, sometimes we have to learn to accept people for who they are and how they are and let go of the remorse we feel in broken relationships that are beyond our power to mend. Learning to trust God for help and healing in those situations is a goal to reach for as well.
It’s also a sad truth that there are sometimes toxic people in our lives who are a constant source of stress and anxiety and, in some cases, are even a danger to themselves and to others. Now may be the time to find ways to limit or control contact with those people, not out of a lack of love or an unwillingness to forgive, but for the safety and well-being of yourself and your family.
Maybe you have debt you would like to pay off in the year to come. Maybe you would like to save up for a special purchase, or start a retirement account. Perhaps you’re aware your giving has become sparse and you want to make it a priority again.
The New Year is a great time to take inventory of your income and expenditures and lay out a game plan for managing your money better over the next 12 months.
Are there things you would like to accomplish in the New Year? Are there any new endeavors you wish to pursue? There may be no better time to commit to those things than at the year’s beginning.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to take piano lessons, start your own business, or write a book. Maybe you want to finish that degree, learn a foreign language, take art classes, or finally start on that flower garden you’ve always wanted.
Lining out those personal goals now may help you keep your focus throughout the year.
The Practical Stuff
This is definitely the less weighty of the categories you should consider in setting New Years goals, but it’s still important!
The New Year is a great time to list out the boring, practical things you hope to accomplish in the year to come. Perhaps you’ve been needing to paint the house, update the landscaping, or make some repairs. Maybe it’s time to finally start on that bathroom remodel. You might need desperately to purge your stuff, or finally put together that yard sale you’ve been talking about having for the past 5 years.
Sometimes we need to accomplish practical stuff, and when we get it done, it can leave us with a tremendous sense of accomplishment that drives us to do even more!
So have you begun your goal list for the New Year? There’s no better time than the present to begin!