New Year! New You?

For several weeks I’ve been thinking about how I want to be different next year, how I want to be better, and what I want to bring with me into 2021.

Do you set goals or make resolutions? I used to. And they would last until about the third week of January. I know I can be disciplined and include routine in my life, but so many of the things I try to add just don’t stick.

So I began to dig into why. Why don’t they stick? Why can’t I pick goals I can achieve. Goals need to be SMART:

(I couldn’t find a graphic that included everything I wanted to put here, so I made my own—forgive the raw nature, but that’s how I’d teach it.)

Going back over this information, two words stuck out to me: relevant and attractive. This is probably where my goals failed. Realizing this reminded me of when I failed my oral exams for my M.Div. so miserably that they suggested we act as if the horrible showing never happened and schedule to do them again next time around.

Regurgitating information merely to demonstrate an array of facts didn’t work for me. How was I going to figure this out? Then without even knowing smart goals I realized I needed to find a way to make my accumulated knowledge both attractive and relevant.

At the time I was trying to figure this out I was engaged in the learning/training experience called Clinical Pastoral Education, CPE for short. Each quarter (I took 10) I had to identify my learning goals. What did I want to learn? What learning would enhance my skills and move me along in my long range plan?

The way this all worked out, I began to link my learning as being under an overarching theme. Everything began to fall into place, become connected, and make so much sense that when I went in the second time the committee commented on how confident and clear I seemed—two words that never would have described my first time before the committee.

Thinking of that brought me to my lightbulb moment. The goals I had been setting were goals I felt I should set. They were goals that had greater meaning to others than to me, so they were neither relevant or attractive to me, and therefore unsuccessful.

With this awareness, how will I set some goals for this year?

First, what is my appealing over arching theme? I landed on the scriptural call to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Here’s my worksheet so far:

So…I need a little time to live with these, but I’ll be back by Wednesday to let you know how this has developed for me.

Wednesday’s Word: Determination


Determinination. The perfect word for January 31.

Statics show us the majority of people who made New Year Resolutions have already given up on them. Perhaps they were unrealistic or lofty. With every intention of reaching the goal they gave up when life got difficult or they got bored or another option caught their attention or fancy.

Disaster, disease,  and disillusionment throw detours in our path, and the easy response is to give up. The enemy loves when we give up.

The Apostle Paul knew a lot about discouragement, but he never gave up. He wrote this to the believers in Philippi: Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12, HCSB).

I make every effort. I press on. With all the strength of the One who has taken hold of me, I grab onto that goal and keep moving forward.

No matter what. Don’t quit. Never give up. Here’s the good news: We are MORE than conquorers. We win. I know—I read the end of the book!

Stay the course. Keep determined. Hold to your resolve. How? Paul tells the Philippians that, too!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (Philippians 4:13)


Each year I ask God for a theme or word or verse to guide me–sort of my spiritual mission for the year that I seek to hang everything I do. Next year’s word came to me this morning as I was reading: habit. I have a feeling I’ll be addressing some bad habits and creating some good and healthy new ones. I’m especially excited to see how this will fit with my “circle” (heart, soul, mind, and action)

What is a habit: a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality; or an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary (thank you

But I also liked this definition, tucked way down on the list: mid-14c., “to dwell,” from Old French habiter “to dwell, inhabit.

I am certain I want to be “dwelling” more intentionally in the Word. The deacons at our church have challenged the congregation to read through the entire Bible in the coming year. I’ve done it before, but it will be encouraging to know others who are on the same journey.

One of the other areas I intend to develop habits in is exercise. I laid a good foundation in 2014, but I have room to improve. Yesterday Nelson and I watched the video for our new exercise investment: a Bowflex Ultimate2. This is going to be good!

I am making myself accountable, not just by writing it here, but by seeking out accountability partners. Iread an article this morning about the importance of knowing ourselves: our strengths and weaknesses. Without accountability, I am nothing but weakness.

So I have no specific resolutions and no real goals…I just want to focus this year on creating more healthy and holy habits. How about you? What goals or resolutions or themes will guide you through this new year?

My prayer is that no matter what our driving force will be, we will find the courage and strength, the grace and perseverance, to come out at the end of this year in a ways which bring greater glory to the One who will enable us, and a deeper joy and peace with Him, one another, and ourselves.

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