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New year, new you?

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choosing to ditch the goals and move forward with intention instead

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are a real struggle for me.

I wrestle with all my failures from the past year and all those goals and dreams that lay at my feet – still unmet. And then I feel suffocated with the expectation that I need to come up with great goals and plans for the next year that is arriving.

It leaves me feeling anxious and depressed – not exactly the person you want at your new year’s eve party.

In the past few years I noticed this pattern in myself and didn’t want to keep repeating it. So instead, knowing that tendency in me, I was determined to not fall into that pattern of thinking. And if you tend to fall into that pattern of thinking too, then here is some Truth for both of us.

God doesn’t ask for perfection, or that we crush every goal we set. And failures and set backs from our human perspective may actually be setting us up to be exactly where God wants us to be.

Maybe for you, 2022 felt like a gap year, like not much was accomplished. But maybe it was behind the scenes. The stage was getting set for something to come. Just because God seems silent, doesn’t mean He’s not working.

As I reflect on those words of truth above, it makes me think of how Jesus lived his life and how it was laid out in scripture. Throughout God’s word, there is one goal – heaven. That we would acknowledge our sinful state and believe on Jesus as the one to save us from that sin. After that, scripture lays out ways that we can be intentional in our daily life that we may live a life that glorifies God and points others to Him.

Ditch those goals

In light of that thought, we can choose to ditch goals and embrace intentions instead. Below are 3 steps to start heading in that direction. Grab your Bible, a journal or 2023 planner, and a pen and give yourself a bit of time in a quiet spot to think through the following steps.

Reflect on the past year – what are you thankful for, what do you want to build off of, and what have you learned that you can take into the next year?

Set intentions instead of goals: I struggle with goals because for me they feel like a hard line – a pass/fail. With a mind that leans towards perfectionism and anxiety, the pass/fail is detrimental. Instead, intentions are arrows we point in a certain direction. We set down signposts that point us the way that we want to go. Intentions focuses on growth over achievement. What kind of growth do you want to see in yourself this year?

Plan your life and habits around those intentions. What small tweaks in your daily routine can you be intentional with that will lead you towards a closer walk in your faith, deeper relationships with family and friends, a healthier lifestyle, and a more generous life?

Choose intentions that will point you towards the person you want to become, not accomplishments that you want to achieve.

After you have determined your intentions for 2023 – tell someone. We are more likely to form a habit and stick to our intentions when we bring someone on board to hold us accountable. You don’t have to broadcast it to the world, it can just be for one trusted friend who you know will follow up with you and will call you out if they see you veering off the path.

Below are a few intentions that we can build off of. They may feel vague because they don’t go the route of goals. Instead, this is the first step that we can begin to flesh out – what specific habits and rhythms of your day can you build in or change to assure that these intentions remain?

Cultivate being together – dropping technology as a replacement for human touch.

Living a life that acknowledges that we’re not nearly as in control as we think (which is OK, because God always is!)

Choosing to walk in mercy, grace, and selfless love over selfishness, discrimination, and retribution.

Being slow to speak and quick to listen.

Contributing in my work in a way that is my best efforts for God’s glory.

My prayer as we head into 2023 is that we may remember what we have learned from 2022 and that we may more clearly see God in our lives and have a better view of how we can better live for and serve Him in this coming year.

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