5 Ways to Plan for the New Year

This post was originally posted on the Christ Community Church blog.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23

Its a New Year, but Will It Be Any Different?

This year, I resolve to abstain from chocolate. This is an example of an unrealistic (and preposterous) goal. I do want to eat less junk food, but it’s wise to make a plan that is both both desirable and doable. 

It’s well past January first, but don’t worry. There’s still plenty of time to reflect and resolve to do great things and be more conformed to the image of Christ. Lamentations reminds us that we not only get a clean start every year, but every single morning! 

Here are a few warm-up exercises to help you pray and plan for this year. I did all of these in order, but feel free to pick just one fit for you.

1. Prayer Mapping 

If you ever get distracted during prayer, this is a great tool to lay out your prayers before the Lord into one big visual. I learned about this method of prayer through Kim Cordes, a leadership coach, and she encourages the prayer mapper to first start out by praying through the acronym PRIME. Then, follow the general instructions through this post on mind mapping, but use it for prayer instead (see prayer mapping examples here). Write “2017” as the word in the middle, and branch out from there. I used mine to pray for the areas of life the Lord has given me: daughter of the King, wife, mom, personal trainer, writer, servant, friend, and neighbor. 

2. One Word 

After praying through the year, I then pray through one word I want to focus on for the year. I picked the word “peace,” because it is something the Lord has been speaking to me the past few months through reading the Bible, prayer, and through friends’ prayers for me. If you need some assistance picking a word, you can go through the steps here.  

3. Personal Manifesto

Resolutions are wonderful, but generally they are all or nothing. If I make a resolution to not eat sugar for a year and then “accidentally” spill some sugary creamer into my coffee, I just broke my whole resolution, throw my hands into the air and think, “I might as well quit now!” 

A personal manifesto is a statement of your core values and beliefs, what is important to you, and how you plan to live your life. It is written in the present tense, even if not everything you state is one hundred percent true about you today, it is a declaration of what you are working to become. 

There are plenty of ways to write your personal manifesto, but after doing the prayer mapping and one word, I decided to make mine simple and easy-to-remember: "I will live in peace." For me, it means I will abide in the God of peace, and work to maintain peace within my own body and with others. 

4. Categories

Mattox and I sat down to have a “2017 planning meeting” the other weekend. We wrote down the following categories and a goal or two for each of us under each heading. After we communicated our priorities for the year, we pulled out our calendars and matched up what would work for our family and nixed what didn’t. Here’s a sample of the categories we used, but feel free to use your own in a different order.

  • Spiritual

  • Marriage

  • Kids

  • Health

  • Career

  • Personal growth (fun, hobbies, friends, education)

  • Finances

  • Adventure

  • Wild card category

5. SMART Goals

I listed SMART goals last, because I think these are helpful for smaller, short-term goals. I like to figure out the big picture before delving into the details. Part of my manifesto is creating peace within my body, which means building a base of gut-healthy food. Here’s an example of a SMART goal for adding in more probiotic foods into my diet:

  • Specific: I will consume one serving of probiotic food per day. 

  • Measurable: I will measure out the serving through the hand portion sizes

  • Achievable: I will achieve this goal by going grocery shopping once a week to stock up on probiotic foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi. 

  • Relevant: Eating more probiotic foods will promote cravings for a healthier diet and decrease hunger for inflammatory food. 

  • Time-sensitive: I will start tomorrow and try this goal for at least 30 days. 

 Instead of these being rigid and inflexible, think of these goals as creative experiments to learn from. Focus more on what you can get out of the process rather than nailing each step successfully.

Reflect & Respond:

  1. How do you plan for the New Year?

  2. Do you have a goal, resolution, or manifesto for this year?