Okay. I am a huge fan of setting goals. As a matter of fact, I am probably becoming more of a fan with each passing day. Life just doesn’t work without goals. Or, at least, the life that I really want to live doesn’t work without them. I suppose that a person could live their entire life without setting any but then wouldn’t that actually be a goal as well? The goal there would be to live with no direction.
Anyways, this past week, I wrote about moving into whatever the future has in store for us. The best way to navigate that journey is with a plan…. with goals. Every year at this time, people start thinking about their New Year’s Resolutions. What am I going to do differently next year in order to improve myself? What am I going to do differently in order to prepare myself a little better for whatever is next in life?
Many people avoid making those resolutions. They have their reasons. Maybe it is a pie -in-the-sky resolution and they have to do it on their own. Maybe they do not have the will-power or the time. Maybe this new goal is a little unrealistic or too expensive. Perhaps the person is not really being honest about what they truly want or they do not have a plan to obtain it.
I think part of the reason that people do not stick with their resolutions is because they shoot way too low on life change. Maybe this is you. Perhaps you have something in mind that you want to change about yourself but the rest of your life is going to get in the way of it. The more I think about the New Year’s resolution, the more I believe that it needs to be huge. Don’t just pick one area of your life to change, pick a bunch. Find synergy in the changes and make them obtainable.
That is my plan for 2017.
I resolve to make ten life changes over the course of the next year. However, these changes will not necessarily drastically change who I am or where I am going. More than anything, I resolve to use 2017 to build onto ten areas of my life that were already changing in 2016. See where I am going here? I am not changing who I am. I am adding to it. Here we go.
Resolution #1 – Intellectual Improvement
I resolve to finish grad school. This seems like a cop out. Of course, I want to finish grad school. I am already in grad school so why wouldn’t I finish it? Here’s the deal. My undergraduate work was not difficult at all. It just took a long time. Graduate school is not the same. It’s very hard. I have taken three classes so far and I failed one of them. That’s it, though. From this point on, nothing but passing grades. These classes are too expensive to be failing them.
This year, I resolve to stay a minimum of two days ahead of the due date for each assignment. This past semester, I stayed a full day ahead of those due dates and it still got me behind. An extra day on each assignment should create enough of a buffer to stay up on each assignment.
Resolution #2 – Spiritual Improvement
I resolve to read the Bible in its entirety. This is a little embarrassing to admit but I have never read the Bible all the way through. I have consumed at least 80% of its contents over the last two decades of youth work, preaching, learning from school and preparing the lessons that we do on our campus but there are parts of the Bible that I have never gotten to.
I resolve myself to a one-year reading plan that will walk me through the entirety of scripture. This is not a difficult task as many people do it every year but it is one that will pay off tremendously. If I believe that all of the scripture is provided to us by God then it is important to consume all of it.
Resolution #3 – Parental Improvement
I resolve to spend more time with my kids on things that they think are important. Last night, before we went to bed, I asked the kids if they could identify one thing that they could do better in 2017 over this past year. Sydney’s response was, “I want to spend more time studying God’s Word.” As cute and awesome of a statement as that was, it broke my heart. I don’t do a regular devotion with my children. I should, and sometimes I get to feeling very guilty about it and start one but have not done so regularly. I have my excuses. I do a nightly devotion with the boys in the house. I provide a staff devotion on our campus twice a week. I have my nose buried in text books the majority of my free time. However, what is truly important? My children want to know about Jesus.
I resolve myself to sitting down once a day for a Bible lesson with my own children. It does not have to be a full-blown sermon. A short, Sunday school type lesson is sufficient. It needs to be scheduled in my daily routine and it needs to happen daily, regardless of whether I am working or not.
Resolution #4 – Spousal Improvement
I resolved to spend more one on one time with my wife. We have been married for eleven years now but have gone on very few dates. Once again, I have my excuses. We chose to have children very soon after we became married and have known a very little time in our marriage when there were not children to take with us when we went out. However, my pastor back in Illinois manages to take his wife out on a date every single week and he has two children. My excuse is weak and my wife wants me to set aside this time. She has been asking (not demanding) and patiently waiting to be dated for ten years.
I resolve to set aside twelve date nights this coming year so that she and I can discover new things about each other. I know, this is not game changing. Why not go for a weekly date night? In our line of work, it is hard to get away. I want this to be something obtainable. So, for this coming year, I resolve to schedule a monthly date night with my wife. She deserves that and so much more.
Resolution #5 – Physical Improvement
I resolve to take better care of myself in this coming year. I am at the heaviest weight currently that I have ever been. I stepped on the scale a few days ago and it began to cry. I was always skin and bones as a child and did not really start to put on any serious weight until I was in my 30’s. However, my metabolism said screw it a couple of years ago and my appetite said, “I’m just getting started.” Something has to change but I absolutely hate exercise.
I resolve myself to thirty minutes every day of medium cardio exercise. This will mostly consist of daily walks. We live way out in the middle of nowhere so there is plenty of places for me to walk to with no interruptions.
Resolution #6 – Entrepreneurial Improvement
I resolve to take more steps towards developing my entrepreneurial side this year. I started scratching that itch last year when I started this blog. In the past nine months, I have posted over 110 pieces of content on the page. I want to go further. I plan to continue posting this coming year with greater frequency. However, I do not intend to limit my growth here to just blogging.
I resolve myself to writing a book this year. My boss just wrote a book a couple of months ago and it only took her about a month to accomplish it. I am not setting that lofty of a goal. I am not going to author a novel but I would like to set my focus on authoring an e-book this year. Since this blog deals a lot with life improvement and navigation, an obvious direction for the e-book would be something along those lines.
Resolution #7 – Financial Improvement
I resolve myself to spending less money in this coming year than what I did in 2016. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not a big spender. It’s not like I have all these gadgets and toys lying around my house that I have purchased and have no use for. I consider myself to be fairly frugal. My problem before was simply not having a plan for saving. Elisa and I sat down a few nights ago and put together our financial plan for this next year. I am very excited because it allows us to save more money this coming year than we ever have before. Since I am not likely to derail that plan with big purchases, the best way to stay on track with these savings is to limit the little ones.
I resolve myself to no more gas station purchases. There are far too many days that, after driving the boys off at school, I drop by the gas station and pick up a sandwich or two. These seem like small purchases (which they are) that have no weight on my yearly savings but they add up over time and I have food at the house. I only stop for those sandwiches because it’s convenient. However, this needs to stop. No more silly gas station purchases.
Resolution #8 – Job Improvement
I resolve myself to discover new ways to do my job better. I work at a group home and it can be difficult, at times, to find ways to connect with the boys who live at my house. Many of them are coming from homes that are really nothing like mine and they know that. This causes them to be somewhat withdrawn from my family. Yet, our job is to get them to open up.
I resolve to study the boys in more detail this year. What makes them tick? What are their interests and how can I incorporate them into our home? How can I make the time that they spend with us more enjoyable while maintaining the structure and discipline that we need to enforce on them?
Resolution #9 – Time Management Improvement
I resolve to spend less time in wasteful activities this coming year. See, I love video games. I absolutely love them. I could play Minecraft for hours upon hours. There are so many other things I could be doing with my time (such as the things that I have resolved to do) besides playing video games. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have scaled back my gaming time considerably in the past few years but I still play too much.
I resolve myself to no more than 30 minutes of game time every day. I do not want to do away with my gaming time completely because I think it is a good release and can be therapeutic at times. Limiting myself to thirty minutes a day is an appropriate amount of time.
Resolution #10 – Social Improvement
I resolve to carve out four social engagements over the course of the next year that has nothing to do with my job or family. This will be something just for me that must engage with someone else or a group of people. Of all the resolutions I have listed here, this is the one that I am most likely to break. I have become a bit of a homebody over the years. I do not really spend much time just on me unless it is doing something quietly at the home. That is something that I would like to improve upon this coming year. It is not necessarily a good thing for me to stay so disconnected from other people. However, I want to set my expectations for this goal pretty low. In this coming year, I will need to find something to attend or participate in at least once every three months.
There it is people. My goals, my resolutions for 2017. I encourage you to do something similar. Set some goals. Make them reachable but still challenging. You don’t have to completely overhaul your life this year but maybe you lay the groundwork for some real life change through smaller steps.
Let me know what you think. Do you have any goals for this next year? Let’s talk about it.