I’ve been struggling to set new goals for this year, and I finally figured out why — I don’t want to attempt anything new.
Not that I don’t want to try new things this year, but I don’t want to set goals for accomplishing new things. Instead, I need to focus on maintaining and developing current things. I stumbled across some pretty good rhythms in 2013, in several areas, and I don’t want to lose any ground! And I’m afraid setting new goals would do just that.
So this year, I’m choosing disciplines instead of goals.
I’ve chosen seven areas in which I need to be disciplined, in order to shift from occasional habits into regular lifestyles. It’s not my “word for the year” (that’s coming later), but consider it another alternative to the over-used “New Year’s Resolutions.”
Bible Study — The last two years I’ve read through the entire Bible, and while I gleaned a lot from those readings, this year I want to go more in-depth. I’d like to focus on some of the historical books, and learn more about specific characters in the Bible. While I love my Bible reading app — and still plan to use it to read from Psalms and Proverbs each day — this will require offline development, in the areas of planning and studying, which will probably be the most challenging part for me.
Scripture Memory — This is one of those areas where I’m trying to maintain a good routine. First, I want to memorize 3-4 new chapters of Scripture, ideally one per quarter. Second, I need to be consistent in reviewing previously memorized passages. I plan to use the Remember Me app to help me with this.
Prayer — I have some basic routines already for personal prayer and intercession, but they both need more — more time, more intensity, more consistency. I’m still working on specific ways to develop this discipline, such as setting reminders and having prayer partners. I’m also looking for a good prayer list app (for Android) to help me. Got any suggestions?
Relationships — I want to intentionally strengthen relationships with my sisters in Christ this year. I need to maintain already-close-friendships and develop some not-quite-friendships. I do have a specific list in mind of women I’d like to get to know better, and am hoping to establish a regular routine of phone calls and coffee dates with each of them… and whoever else God brings into my life this year!
Physical Health — I need to maintain my current rhythms. That means exercising consistently when energy allows, pacing myself wisely to avoid unnecessary fatigue, and eating a nutrition and balanced diet. I also want to make this a year of developing a more natural lifestyle. While I don’t believe that all man-made products are evil or harmful, I do love the idea of spending less money and experiencing more benefits, by using things that already exist in nature (for instance, essential oils). So as we finish our store-bought products this year, I will be evaluating each one and deciding if I can make a more natural version myself. I’ve already done this with most of our household cleaners, and am in the process of switching to homemade cleanser/conditioner (so far I love it!). I also want to continue learning about (and using!) essential oils, both for my own benefit and so I can competently introduce them to others.
Reading — Last year I set a goal for reading 50 new books during the year, and I easily exceeded it. This year, I’m setting a goal of 70 new books. But I want to shift away from whatever’s simply accessible to books which are truly beneficial. This means deliberately choosing titles in advance, for a specific purpose, rather than just picking up whatever’s new and popular. It also means limiting my fiction, since I can easily devour a new novel every few days — which is certainly enjoyable, but not necessarily beneficial. So I’ve been making a list of particular books I’d like to read this year, which I hope will help guide my reading choices. And I plan to continue tracking what I read on Goodreads, which will also help keep me accountable.
Writing — I need to develop and maintain a good routine for research and writing, which can be tricky when my fatigue worsens or life gets too busy. But I’ve begun working on my next book, about Old Testament characters who dealt with physical suffering, and want to complete the research and start writing the first draft by the end of this year. I also want to maintain a good blogging schedule of posting 1-2 times per week. In some cases, that will require writing posts ahead of time.
Have you set any goals for 2014? I’d love to hear about them!
And don’t forget, we’ll be checking in quarterly to share progress on our goals… so keep up with them!