Fresh Start for the New Year

Fresh Start for the New Year

What are you taking with you into 2018?

As I sit here looking at the sparkling lights of our Christmas tree I’ve let my mind wander to the New Year. To the time when the calendar rolls over to the next number, the sparklers are lit, and resolutions are made. It’s a fun time–a freeing time–and can signal the start of something new…if we let it.

But the danger here is not something catching ablaze from fireworks (unless you’re in California like me) but the reality that you may be limping into 2018 with more than you need. No, I’m not talking about some kind of minimalist cleanse or massive closet overhaul (unless you feel that’s necessary). I’m talking about an emotional evaluation of the things that are weighting you down. Your luggage.

I’ve always enjoyed Monday’s (I know, what’s wrong with me?) for the simple fact that they give me a fresh start to the week. Maybe I felt like I hadn’t accomplished as much as I wanted to the week before or that the stress of life was catching up, but then Sunday evening would roll around and I’d start to think “I can start fresh tomorrow!”. The New Year is a lot like that. Nothing really changes–except for writing the wrong year at least a hundred times before you get it right–but we like to trick ourselves into thinking that with the dawn of January 1st, we can become something different than we were.

Image of luggage I think there are good and bad sides to this. On one hand, there is something to be said about seizing the opportunity to make changes in our lives, and what better way than the beginning of a new year? But, we may be tempted to place our hope in the idea of a “fresh start” when the New Year rolls in. The feeling of newness spurring on our new life choices. The danger in this? What happens when that “fresh start” lasts 2 weeks and then fizzles out under the weight of all that we cannot change on our own?

This brings me back to my first question: What are you taking with you into 2018? Again, I’m not talking psychically, but mentally. This is the perfect time to sit down and do some thinking. You’ve got 5 days left and I encourage you to use them well.

Below I’ve created a few categories for us to think through. Use these next five days (including today) to do a type of evaluation of yourself. I’d suggest doing two columns. One for 2017 to catalogue where you “ended” and one for 2018 and where you’d like to go.

Relational

  • 2017: Focus on the personal relationships you have/made this year. What blessings have you seen? What struggles have you experienced? What might you be holding on to as you move into this New Year that will be toxic to you and your relationships? Who do you need to forgive?
  • 2018: What do you look forward to with regards to your relationships this year? What is something you can do to better encourage your friends? Who should you be praying for on a more consistent basis? What is the Lord revealing to you about what you need to change in your relationships?

Personal

  • 2017: What triumphs/successes did you experience this year? What went “right”? Analyze why/how it did. What hardships/failures did you experience this year? Why do you think they happened? How do you feel about them now? Have you asked for healing? Have you forgiven where necessary? What might you be tempted to take with you into this New Year that you should let go of instead?
  • 2018: What do you want to see happen in your personal life in this New Year? Are you praying about these things? What can you learn from last year’s struggles and successes for this New Year? What do you need to let go of in order to face 2018 with a sense of freedom?

Image of book and penPsychical

  • 2017: Overall, how was your health in 2017? We’re you happy with your level of activity? What successes did you have in regards to health? What struggles did you face? Have you found contentment in your identity in Christ (especially with regards to weight/appearance)? If not, what lies are you believing about these things? What baggage might you be tempted to take with you into the New Year? Think of a time you felt completely content with who you were this year. Why did you feel that way? What circumstances led up to that? Ask the Lord for more of that in this coming year!
  • 2018: What realistic health goals can you set for this year? Make sure these are ones that will push you, but that are also attainable. What motivations can you use that don’t resort to comparison or shaming? Who can you ask to help keep you accountable? What changes in your schedule/routine will be necessary and how can you do them gradually so they’ll “stick”?

Work

  • 2017: What work goals (this could be a job for those who work or a household accomplishment for stay at home moms etc.) did you accomplish this year? What led up to that success? How did you see the Lord help you in these areas? What failures did you experience? Take a moment to analyze how you’re dealing with them. Have they loaded on baggage that you’ll be tempted to carry into 2018? Is there anything you need to do in order to move past them before the New Year begins?
  • 2018: What work goals are you setting for yourself for this year? (Note: Just like physical goals, they should be a mix of attainable and almost-out-of-reach goals in order to help you feel successful but push you as well.)  Why do you want to accomplish the things you’ve added on this list? It’s a great time to check your motivation: Is it monetary? Visual (like wanting others to see how well you’ve done)? Prideful? Or does it fall in line with what the Lord is asking of you? How can you keep God at the center of your work in 2018?

Spiritual

  • 2017: What has God taught you this year? What is one  answer (or many) to prayer you saw? What is something you struggled with this year? Are you still struggling with it? If so, how can you focus on it for 2018 to gain insight and perspective on it in the New Year so that it doesn’t become baggage dragging you down? Who have you opened up to this year? What was the result of that? How can you do more of this in the coming year? What things have the potential to become baggage for this next year? How can you release them to His care rather than carrying them yourself?
  • 2018: How can you challenge yourself spiritually in this New Year? Possibly a schedule change to dedicate more time to the Lord? Maybe attacking a sin habit that you constantly struggle with to see growth (ask a friend to join you and help to keep you accountable in this). How can you invest in building up community? How can you encourage those younger in their faith than you? What is one thing you’re asking the Lord to do in your heart in this New Year?

Fresh Start for the New Year by Emilie Hendryx | Putting on the NewOnce you’ve done this, take some time (maybe it’s each day or maybe it’s just a carved out section of the 31st) to pray over each of these areas. If we’re not careful, we’ll walk into 2018 with the same baggage we’ve carried through 2017. Maybe we’ll drop a few cases but we’ll pick them back up, along with a whole set of new luggage in the New Year.

Let me be clear here: The momentum of a fresh start for the New Year WILL fade unless your motivation is rooted and fueled by the Lord’s strength through prayer and accountability. Don’t think that you can do this on your own, isolation will be the thing that unravels you. Take a risk: reach out to Him and those you trust in order to start (and finish) 2018 well.

Further reading: Check out Max Lucado’s book, Traveling Light, for further study on this. I read through this book with some other ladies as a study and it was excellent! It may help you drop some baggage in favor of a freer 2018.

 

Emilie Hendryx About Emilie Hendryx

Emilie is a freelance writer, photographer, and graphic designer living in Northern California. She’s a member of ACFW and writes Young Adult fiction. In her spare time, you can find her designing fun bookish items for her Etsy and Society6 shops all while drinking too much coffee.
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Comments

  1. What a wonderful analysis! Thank you!

  2. Emilie, thanks for investing so much in this post. These are wonderful questions to consider as we begin a new year. I lead a small group of younger women, and we’ll be using this as a resource! Thank you!

  3. Thank you Linda!

  4. Oh I’m so happy to hear that Stacey! A a resource I added a free downloadable PDF on my blog! You can see it here: http://eahendryx.blogspot.com/2017/12/new-years-goal-planning.html

    Hope that helps!

  5. Great post! I have some work to do. 🙂

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