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10 Steps to Help You Think through Your Goals for the New Year

10 Steps to Help You Think through Your Goals for the New Year

The day is nearly here. That day…  Filled with retrospect – attempting to reconcile the events of the prior year with the hope and anticipation of what the next 364 following will bring. Stepping into the next year, we evaluate, think on, and establish new goals. While we can thank God that His mercies are new each day, the new year gives way to both reflection and dreams. As you reflect on what has been and what you hope will be, here are 10 steps to help you find your way.

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  • 1. Ask God What Your Goals Should Be

    1. Ask God What Your Goals Should Be

    Before you begin making a list of resolutions, goals, and dreams for the new year, it would be wise to ask the One who planned your entire existence first. He is the all-knowing, all-powerful, God of the universe; your mind cannot reach to the realities of the good He might have for you if you trust Him. As God reminds us in Isaiah 55:8-9, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’” declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’

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  • 2. Take Time to Remember

    2. Take Time to Remember

    We should not begin to move blindly into the future. We must take time to thank the Lord for what He has done in this past year, while also acknowledging what worked and what didn’t. May we stay the course if steps of faith have brought new life, and leave behind the actions that brought death. Our yesterdays will bleed into our tomorrows if we do not take time to turn from destructive habits that have torn down the dreams from last January.

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  • 3. Know Why You Want to Pursue the Goal

    3. Know Why You Want to Pursue the Goal

    If we are living to glorify God we must run our desires through the filter of scripture, and bring the motivations of our hearts for Him to judge. We listen and allow him to help us separate that which is guided by the spirit and that which was birthed by our flesh. We are only on this planet for a set amount of years and few last longer than 100. Time is short and we need not waste our moments chasing things that will not last. 

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  • 4. Ask Who Will Your Goals Impact

    4. Ask Who Will Your Goals Impact

    Almost as important as the why is the who. Paul writes that we should, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

    This does not mean you cannot make personal goals. If you want to exercise more, you are stewarding your life so that you can serve others longer. Maybe you want to hone a talent that brings enjoyment to the hearts of others, or allow for more time to yourself so that you are kinder as you move about your day. Making personal goals does not mean you are being selfish, but you should ask yourself what you will do for others in this next year. How will taking care of yourself help?

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  • 5. Talk to Someone Who Has Done It

    5. Talk to Someone Who Has Done It

    There is much wisdom to be gained from talking to someone who has already done what you hope to accomplish. Not only can they tell you what worked, but they can warn you about what didn’t. It takes much less time to hear what mistakes to avoid than to learn the lessons the hard way. Proverbs 15:22 tells us, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

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  • 6. Does it Align with Your Mission?

    6. Does it Align with Your Mission?

    Do you have a mission statement for your life? If not – it’s worth thinking, and praying about. If you can boil down all you want to be into a sentence or two you can begin to ask if the choices you make align with that goal. You were created with a purpose.“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) Live into that purpose. Seek out and live out who you were created to be.

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  • 7. Make a Plan

    7. Make a Plan

    Once you have made your goals it will be time to make a plan. We can dream all we want, but without action the goals will live in our imagination alone. Sit down and give yourself some deadlines or checkpoints. Mark what and when you want to accomplish by certain points of the year. Where will you be in one month, three, six and nine. Ask some close friend to hold you accountable, and above all, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

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  • 8. What Will Have to Change

    8. What Will Have to Change

    Part of making plans will be figuring out what needs to change. Most likely some of the goals you make may actually be course correction. You have known you should change, but haven’t done it. Change often involves discipline and, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11

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  • 9. Identify What Will Tempt You to Give Up

    9. Identify What Will Tempt You to Give Up

    Have you failed at meeting this goal before? Why? By knowing your weaknesses, you can be prepared to fight them and taste victory. Don’t walk into temptation, and have a plan for how to escape it. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13

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  • 10. Release the Pressure and Pursue Peace

    10. Release the Pressure and Pursue Peace

    Good news, God knows you are not perfect and so does everyone else. Jesus is the only one who has successfully lived a perfect life, and thankfully has made a way for us to be covered by that grace. We can improve. We should seek to be more like him, and we will grow. But whatever we do, may we do it for him. May we “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14) And may we rest in the fact that we are loved by He who is the giver of dreams and the one who can do more than we ask or imagine.

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    Chara Donahue is a freelance writer who is working on her first book. She enjoys doing biblical counseling, speaking to women, and savoring coffee when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds an MSEd from Corban University, is passionate about seeing people set free through God's truths, and is the founder and editor of Anchored Voices. Get in touch with her on Facebook or Twitter.