Setting Intentions for the New Year
It’s the most overly ambitious time of the year. We wait for January 1st to roll around because we know our motivation will come in like a tidal wave the minute we turn the page on our calendar and the clock strikes midnight.
Only it doesn’t often happen that way.
There’s nothing magical about January 1st. No one is turning into a pumpkin or finding a glass slipper and marrying Prince Charming (sorry to be the one to have to tell you..).
We wake up the same person we were on December 31st.
Sure, maybe the excitement of a new year will give us a boost of energy or motivation. But it’s not going to stick with us if we don’t work on two things: staying consistent and being disciplined.
This can apply to anything in your life that you’re trying to be intentional about. But what does it mean to set an intention?
When you set intentions, you’re stating what you intend to accomplish based on your actions. It’s essentially making a commitment to something that’s important to you, and saying, “I will do this.”
Those intentions can be anything. You could set intentions to get healthier or lose weight, to spend more time with your family, to learn something new.
Everyone will have different goals and priorities, so it’s all about setting an intention that makes sense for you.
But no matter what your new year intentions may be, we all should share one common characteristic: we should be making sure they align with God’s word and His plan for us.
AKA.. we should be setting faith-filled intentions.
Setting Spiritual New Year Resolutions
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Identify Your Goal + Reason Why (Then Pray on it)
The very first step in setting your intentions is figuring out what they’re going to be. This probably seems like the easy part, but unless you have a clear vision, this one can actually be a little tricky.
Most of the time, we have this big idea, right? “I want to lose weight” is a common goal most people have once January 1st rolls around.
But once you start digging deeper, it can get a little more difficult to narrow your focus.
Asking questions like:
- Why do you want to lose weight?
- How much weight do you want to lose?
- When do you want to achieve this goal by?
- What will your life be like if you do or don’t lose weight?
Figure out what it is you’re wanting to do, and then take it two steps further by 1) being specific, and 2), identifying your reason WHY behind the goal.
Once you’ve done those two things it’s time for one more piece of reflection: figuring out if this goal is in line with what God would want for you. OR, if you’re unsure what your intentions should be, start with this step.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”James 1:5
That’s not always easy to do, either. Sometimes we’re not always aware of God’s plan for our lives until it hits us smack in the face, right? But use this time to dial in your discernment; is this goal something that aligns with God’s word? Is it something that He would be proud of? Is it something that ultimately will help you spread His light and message through you to others as they watch you chip away and succeed?
The only way to know is to pray about it. Take to God whatever is on your heart. You may not always hear a loud booming voice in your ear saying, “Look – this is what you need to do.” But often, you’ll feel it. You’ll know if something is right for you or if it’s wrong. Intuition is really just God whispering answers to us.
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”james 3:17
Outline Action Steps to Achieve That Goal
Planners/journals, roadmaps, and spreadsheets for the win! Just kidding. You don’t have to become Miss Organized or develop a Type A personality to be successful. But what you do need to do is figure out where to start.
Identify the things you think you need to start doing, and then the things you feel you should stop doing – all in order to get you closer to that goal.
Do your actions fall in line with your faith?
Do your actions fall in line with how you are wanting to be or the type of person you are wanting to become?
Self-reflection isn’t an easy task sometimes. It can get uncomfortable to look at our daily habits and identify the ones that are serving a greater purpose and the ones that may be holding us back. But doing so is essential for growth and in growing in our faith.
Prioritize Your Day to Include Those Actions
So now that you know what you want to do, the things you need to do to achieve those goals – it’s time to actually put those plans into action.
Prioritize your day so that you are actively working toward that goal every single day. Even if it’s in teeny tiny ways.
Set aside 10-30 minutes daily that you can spend dedicated to your goal. Exercise, study, read the Bible, pray, journal, reflect on your plans and remind yourself why you started to begin with.
For me, I like to schedule those tasks in my calendar. Seeing them visibly in front of me helps me stay focused, accountable, and I’m more likely to stick with what I am doing. If they’re in my schedule, I will treat whatever it is like an appointment that can’t be missed.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”matthew 7:24
Shift Your Mindset
Real talk: the devil doesn’t want us to succeed. In fact, he wants us to fail, big time. Especially if we’re doing something that God has called us to do.
That’s where those negative voices and feelings of self-doubt come from. God doesn’t want us to be anxious, fearful, or lacking in confidence. We are His children, for crying out loud. We belong to the King of Kings. We don’t have time to be wallowing in self doubt or self pity because we’re too afraid to do something.
Instead, we have to start behaving like children of God and believing that through Christ all things are possible.
Start believing that you can because God says it’s so. And if a particular goal is not what God planned for you, do not stress. It just means something better is coming. In all things pray, give praise, and stand confidently in your faith.
“Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,”Philippians 2:5 CSB
Lean Into Faith
One of the best books I’ve read this year is You Are The Girl For the Job: Daring to Believe the God Who Calls You by Jess Connolly. (Yep, that’s an affiliate link. And if you make a purchase through that link, I’m going to donate any commissions earned to Compassion International – at no extra cost to you).
I love this book for a lot of reasons, but mainly because Jess isn’t afraid to be real with her readers. She reminds us that we all go through periods of insecurity and comparison, but we can’t live there. The truth is, God has created us for this exact moment. And He has a purpose for our life, whether we are aware of that purpose at this point in time, or still trying to navigate those unsure waters.
Regardless, we have to make a move. It’s not our capacity that will lead us to our finish line. It’s God’s.
Recognize that your abilities come straight from Him, and whatever it is you are wanting to achieve, do so with God by your side. Spend time in the word each day, and getting to know Jesus. Your path will start to make itself known sooner than you think.