Another new year approaches. A time to reflect and make resolutions that we have no intention to keep.
Or ones that we have every intention to keep, but we’ll forget about them by next week.
I don’t typically make New Year’s resolutions. I like to go into each new year with no expectations. That way I’m pleasantly surprised when good things happen. In words of Alexander Pope, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
It’s a great way to live, I’m sure.
Sarcasm set aside, setting goals is important. It’s difficult to grow without out setting some sort of goal. But then again, simply setting a goal isn’t quite enough. We have to set some way to measure our achievement to see if progress is actually happening.
In the educational field, there’s this idea of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. These are goals that tend to follow the following criteria:
S – specific
M – measurable
A – attainable
R – relevant
T – time-based
Basically, by goal-setting this way, you determine a specific, attainable goal that is relevant to what you want in life and can be measured by a certain time.
When we typically set goals, we say things like, “I want to workout more.” Okay, that’s awesome, but what does more mean exactly? Depending on the person, that could mean working out five minutes a week or five minutes more a day. Goals like this are hard to measure, and they make it difficult to monitor progress or growth.
Now, look at that same goal, but once it’s been put through the S.M.A.R.T. method: I want to complete four 20-minute workouts a week for the next month. It’s specific, I can measure it, it’s something that is realistically attainable and relevant to my life, and I can reach it by a certain time.
Ideally, after reaching my goal, I would take time to evaluate and review my goal (that would create the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. acronym – same thing, just a couple finishing steps). This allows me to reflect on my progress and determine what goal I should set next or if I need to make changes.
If we don’t set specific goals, we set ourselves up to fail in areas where we want to grow. It’s very difficult to get better if I have no map of where I want to go.
Because of the freedom I have in Christ, my life is more than just a checklist of things I need to accomplish before I die. This is an incredible opportunity! There’s literally no glass ceiling I have to break through; the sky isn’t just the limit – there’s even more beyond that. However, with more freedom comes more responsibility. “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” (Eleanor Roosevelt). Although I have complete freedom, I will be held responsible for the choices I make and the way I use my time (2 Corinthians 5:10; Luke 12:48).
I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately, so I actually did write down a few of the goals I have for 2018.
1. Live Intentionally
To live with intention means to be determined to act in a certain way, to have a set resolve to do something; it’s the desire to do something in a deliberate way. When you are intentional about something, you set out to do it, it doesn’t just happen by accident.
I want to live aware of the choices I make, whether in my spiritual life, my relationships, or my profession. Because I have no idea how long I have in this world, I want to make each moment count. Death has been a very real part of my life, so I know what it’s like to think about the last words you spoke or the last moments you spent with someone. Each day is a gracious and merciful gift we’ve been given, and I want to spend that time fully engaged with people and the world around me.
In order to live intentionally in 2018, I resolve to focus on the people God has placed in my life by choosing to be present in the time I spend with them. This means making a conscious choice not to have my phone or other distractions available during dinners, coffee/ice cream dates, real conversations, or other one-on-one moments that should have my full attention. I want this to also apply to my workplace, my quiet time with God, and when I’m at church; basically anytime when my focus should be on the people I’m around rather than memes on Facebook (no matter how hilarious they are).
In order to live intentionally in 2018, I resolve to use social media with purpose. Not everything I post/write needs to be super serious or spiritual, there is a time and place for entertainment (if only for my own sanity), but I will make sure I don’t post things out of jealousy, anger, or spite. I refuse to let my published writing or other social media posts be a way for me to heal by finding validation in the number of likes or shares.
2. Live Generously
Interestingly enough, generous was once synonymous with highborn, someone of noble birth. This makes sense. I mean, someone who is characterized by generosity should live as though they have a noble calling – they aren’t bothered by giving money or offering their time or belongings because they have a copious supply to share.
That’s how we often think of generosity – someone who lives openhandedly with their money. However, to truly live a generous life is more than that. It’s more than just being liberal in giving money, it’s choosing to be liberal in giving everything. It’s having the courage to generously give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s being willing to generously give of our time.
We can be so willing to hand out money to charities and other organizations (which is super awesome, obviously) while being super tightfisted with our judgments, with our time, and with our opinions.
In order to live a generous life in 2018, I resolve to put aside petty arguments and debates. I don’t want to live with an “us versus them” mindset. I will ask questions to understand differing opinions rather than say combatant words that will only add fuel to the fire.
In order to live a generous life in 2018, I resolve to think the best of people, to assume the best and ignore the worst. This means shutting out the temptation to gossip and avoid/ignore any real issues. I want to be willing to carefully and kindly confront problems if in doing so the situation will be bettered.
(confrontation is the absolute worst.)
In order to live a generous life in 2018, I resolve to hold my time, my gifts, and possessions in open hands. The things I’ve been given are not really mine; I am only taking care of the things God has blessed me with so I might bless others (1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Peter 4:10). I will be willing to give my time to people who need it without complaining about it later or expecting something in return.
Obviously, these aren’t all S.M.A.R.T. goals. The ideas of intentionality and generosity don’t really lend themselves to specific, tangible goals, but I try my best.
I hope you take this time at the beginning of the New Year to reflect on areas you want to grow in. I encourage you to set some specific (or kinda specific) goals to aim towards, but if you choose not to, at least resolve to be more generous with your people. 2017 was a crap year (I think we can all agree on that). Being more open-minded, less combatant, and having a spirit of forgiveness and understanding can only help us rise past last year.
Happy New Year!
Do you set New Year’s resolutions? Are you planning to make any resolutions this year?
I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below or send me a message here.