There’s something beautiful about a fresh start. In reality, every day holds potential for new possibility, but that’s easy to forget. Sometimes, our hearts need hope breathed into them—the reminder that newness and freshness are possible, and at any moment, they can invade our lives and surprise us in delightful ways. New Year’s seems to do just that.
One of my favorite ways to spend the strange stretch of time between Christmas and New Year’s is by creating space to reflect on what’s slipping into my rearview mirror, and to simultaneously map out the road ahead.
Building an intentional rhythm of reflection allows me to recognize God’s faithfulness in areas I might otherwise miss it. It’s a chance to look at the growth that’s happened over the course of the year—the stuff I don’t notice in the gradual, day-to-day—and to close the year on a note of gratitude.
Then comes the fun stuff—dreaming and planning. There are few things I love more than cracking into a crisp, beautiful new planner, color-coded pens and stickers in hand, and mapping out the bite-sized, actionable steps and habits that are going to get me towards my goals. I always look forward to scheduling this planning time in, well, my planner.
At the core, resolutions are more than just actions we’re going to stop or start doing. They’re an opportunity to cast a renewed vision for the kinds of people we want to be and the kinds of lives we want to lead, and to identify the pathway there.
It’s not enough to simply say we want to be loving, brave, and generous people. We need to identify practices to implement that will transform us into loving, brave, and generous people.
In 2016, for example, one of my goals was to love my family better, as they are often the ones who get the tired, cranky, worst of me. I have three immediate family members (my mom, dad, and brother), so I wrote one of their names in the monthly overview of my planner for each month of the year, rotating them so they each ended up on four different months. This served as a reminder to be intentional about praying for that family member, and finding special ways to show them love throughout the month. Though I still have plenty of room to grow in this area, taking an abstract goal and giving it a tangible expression did move me closer to where I want to be.
Discipline comes down to the decisions we make day-to-day, and it’s difficult, but it’s a game of steady endurance, not quick perfection. Even if we fall off the wagon in February, it’s important to remember that there’s power in making mid-course corrections, and we can choose to make each moment new, rather than waiting for some ideal moment to start again. After all, goals are great, but they’re nothing without grace, and grit to get up and try again. Whenever I’m tempted to give up, a quote often repeated by my communication theory professor in college haunts me, in the best way:
Whatever your dreams may be, my prayer is that 2017 brings you closer to them, and deeper into the heart of the God who gave them to you.
Like I mentioned on Instagram, in 2017 I will be making it more of a habit to share some of the resources that have shaped, inspired, and grown me, in addition to continuing the book recommendation posts, as I’ve done here and here. To kick it off, below are a few resources to fuel your resolutions—ones that have fueled me in my own.
1. The Bible Project: I can’t say enough about how this has transformed my personal reading of Scripture. They’ve helped me to understand the Bible as one unified story pointing to Jesus, and to see how even the seemingly obscure passages fit into the story. They make YouTube videos for each book of the Bible, giving context and key themes, and they also make videos tracing certain themes like “The Law” or “The Image of God” throughout the Bible. I followed their 2016 Bible in a Year Plan and got so much out of it that I plan on doing the same in 2017. Best part? It’s free.
2. Soul Scripts by Jordan Lee: This incredible blogger is such an inspiration to me, and a continual reminder that perfections may impress, but flaws connect. She’s real with a capital R, and her posts leave you comforted in knowing you’re not alone in whatever you may be struggling with and more importantly, wanting more of Jesus. She recently launched The Sisterhood, a membership site that includes amazing Bible studies (see my photo below), among other things. If you don’t want to pay (though, it’s barely more than the cost of one Starbucks latte per month), the free portion of her blog, Soul Scripts, and her Instagram, will still feed you truth and encouragement.
3. Dale Partridge: For those with an entrepreneurial spirit needing encouragement and extra oophm, Dale’s Instagram and blog are must-follows. On his website, he does weekly podcasts with thought leaders, best-selling authors, and CEO’s, and the wisdom to be gleaned from these is not something you want to miss. I love that his posts are geared toward go-getters, with a focus on not letting ambition overshadow the most important things in life. He also offers Startup Camp, a paid e-course geared toward helping you turn your passion into a profession.
4. The Tim Ferriss Show: On this number one business podcast on iTunes, every episode, author and blogger Tim Ferriss interviews world-class performers from all different areas to provide his listeners with resources, routines, and tricks to maximize potential. I’ve gained so much from these, and plan on reading a few of his books this year as well.
5. Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships: I absolutely LOVE this blog and podcast run by some of my favorite Biola University professors. They offer wisdom for singleness, dating, and marriage from the perspectives of communication theory, theology, and psychology, and listening in makes me feel like I’m right back in some of my favorite classes again. The principles to be gleaned are applicable to any relationship, and they challenge me to love those around me better. Be sure to like them on Facebook to be notified about new episodes.
6. Beating 50 Percent: I’m not married yet, but I love following this blog and Instagram as a way of learning, preparing, and developing habits that will help my future marriage one day. Their mission is to cultivate covenant marriages, and empower people to give more than 50% effort in relationships.
7. Dave Ramsey: If you’re looking to punch debt in the face, or simply tighten up your spending and saving habits, this is the guy for you. Christian author and finance guru, Dave offers the class Financial Peace University, but personally I’ve just stuck with his book, The Total Money Makeover. Since graduating college, his simple, timeless tactics have helped me work towards developing healthy financial habits.
8. Kayla Itsines: If you’ve followed along for a while, you’ll know that I used to do OrangeTheory Fitness classes and while I loved them, they were pricey and well, see number seven. Kayla is the founder of a mega-successful fitness program, and I love it because it includes exercises you can do at home with little to no workout equipment. She offers workout guides, as well as a Sweat With Kayla app, which is my personal favorite. I also love following the transformations she regularly posts on Instagram.
9. Whole30: I’ve talked before about this 30 day nutritional reset and while I don’t follow it as a lifestyle, I like doing it every now and then to jumpstart healthy eating habits, and it sure is effective. I never have more energy than when I am eating clean this way, and even when I’m not doing a Whole30, I try to stick to its principles 80% of the time, leaving 20% of time for things like sprinkled donuts.
As you may gather from the resources I’ve shared here, I have a lot of different goals for 2017. Something I’ve found helpful in tying them all together is prayerfully coming up with a word for the year—a reminder of what I want to to be about.
My word for 2017 is intentional.
I want to be intentional in continuing to cultivate my prayer life, intentional with each item I add to my schedule, rather than letting a crazy schedule control me, intentional in relationships, and intentional in my nighttime habits so that my mornings aren’t rushed but well, intentional. In essence, I don’t want to let life happen to me, but live out each day on purpose.
What do you want YOUR life to be about in 2017? If you have a word you’d like to focus on for the year, I’d love to create a graphic for you like the one above. Just tell me in the comments what your word is, whether you want lock screen or Instagram size, and include your email address so I can send it on over.
Hello I’m Kaci!
I love encouraging and discipling others in the Word of God, and I really love the One it all points to: Jesus.
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