I’m not a big New Year’s resolution advocate, yet this is a perfect time to make needed changes and set fresh goals. See if you can connect with a few of the following ideas:
Do “you.” You are fearfully and wonderfully made. There’s no one else on earth exactly like you. Rather than wishing you were someone else, be the best possible version of yourself.
Create margin. What’s up with “burning the candle at both ends?” Most people mistake being busy with relevance and effectiveness. Schedule some “white space” in your days. Focus more on thinking and being rather than talking and doing.
Remember the Sabbath. Don’t let Sunday become just like the other six days. Find a church where you can worship and develop community. Do lunch with family and friends. Then, after a good nap, take a walk in the woods. If Sunday doesn’t fit for you, set aside another day of the week.
Seek solitude and silence. Have you noticed in the Bible how often Jesus withdrew from the people to chill out? If God in the flesh needed such breaks in the first century, then how much more must we need those breaks in these chaotic times in which we live.
Dig deeper in the Word. If you want to hear from God, this is one of your best chances. Whether it’s through reading or listening, make Scripture part of your everyday spiritual diet. For the more energetic, read through the Bible in a year and start memorizing verses.
Talk regularly with God. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). Don’t get hung up by format, timing or ritual – just pray. Also, since prayer is dialogue and not monologue, listen as well.
Let bygones be bygones. Are you holding a grudge against someone? Wipe the slate clean by forgiving him or her. Don’t drink the poison, expecting the person you’re bitter toward to die. Remember, you’ve been forgiven, especially by God.
Cultivate gratitude. “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). As my mom used to say, “Focus on your haves, not your have nots.” No matter how much or how little, appreciate what you have. This includes eternal/ spiritual blessings as well as temporal/physical ones. As Aesop once said, “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.”
Speak wholesomely. It’s so easy in our toxic society to engage in put-downs, gossip, and degrading remarks. Resist the temptation. Tame the tongue. Have your words pass through the “is it necessary, is it relevant, is it kind” filter.
Change “have-to” to “get-to.” I told someone recently that I had to go out of town to visit my ailing, aging father. You don’t have to he said, you get to. My dad has since passed away. Enough said.
Celebrate the success of others. Jealousy, that “big green monster,” has been called the worst of all emotions. If you didn’t get that promotion, congratulate the one who did. If someone else’s spouse, children or grandchild did something special, congratulate them. “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15). Your day is coming.
Focus on giving rather than getting. Transition from accumulation to distribution. Don’t you already have more than you have time or room for? Bless others by giving things away – and not just old junk. As Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Keep moving. I ran for years. Now, I walk. But praise God I’m still moving. Walking burns calories, reduces stress, and improves mental health; as well as aiding in circulation and digestion. Simply said, motion is lotion.
Spend more time outside. While the benefits here are closely aligned with those mentioned above, they aren’t the same. Walking can be done indoors and is sometimes regimented. And if you’re not going to walk, at least get out of the house, breathe some fresh air and soak up the sun. Natural settings work best.
Eat clean. When we think of addictions, sex, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco quickly come to mind. Yet #2 on the list, according to addictnation.org, behind prescription drugs, is food addiction. And even if a person is not addicted, replacing sweets and bread with fruits and vegetables is a wise move.
Plow fallow ground. I love the challenge from the Old Testament prophet who proclaimed, “Break up your unplowed ground” (Jeremiah 4:3). Taking that verse to heart, quit hugging the trunk and go out on a limb. Take a risk. Start something new, casting your nets into deeper water.
Find a hobby. I’m preaching to myself here. As I approach retirement, I realize it’s going to be difficult for me unless I find something productive to do. I need to quit making excuses and start making plans. Whereas I don’t anticipate becoming a master craftsman, fishing and gardening don’t sound so bad.
Cut back on media. Turn off the TV and put away your phone. Most programming offered is depressing and carnal. Add to that the addictive nature of technology and you’ve got a hot mess.
Be sweet. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted” (Ephesians 4:32). This doesn’t cost a thing and has the potential for tremendous impact. Smile, hold the door open, and speak a word of encouragement. Chances are the person you encounter has had a very hard day and needs the encouragement.
Love more. If I were to give the reason for so much dysfunction in our society in three words or less, I’d say, “lack of love.” Jesus warned us people’s love would grow cold as the end of time approaches. This trend is not going to change at the macro level. Yet, we can sure make a difference in those little corners of the world where we live.
There you have it … 20 ways to make 2020 your best year ever. Put them into practice and you’ll be amazed at the positive results and renewed outlook.
Todd Gaddis serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas in Paulding County.