5 Ways to Make Your New Year Great!

new year

By: bayasaa
How can this new year be great?

Every year over the holidays a nagging feeling begins to grow.  We all start wondering how the new year will be our best year yet.  We think about what kinds of promises we could make to ourselves or our loved ones that might help us succeed.

But, you know the drill.  We make 12 resolutions to do this or that.  But by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around we’ve failed at almost all of them in one way or another.

Well, how can this year be different?  I haven’t the slightest!  But I do know that there are some basic things we could all do to help every year be great.

Five Ways to Have a Great New Year

  1. Make no more than five goals.  Don’t think of your resolutions as resolutions.  We all know how we do when we resolve to do something…  Instead, form goals.  Don’t make too many or too few.  Five seems about right.  Don’t shoot too high, but don’t make the goals too easy either.  I like to think of them as stretch goals.  Imagine what seems doable, then stretch it just a bit.  For example: your may have a goal to save 3000 dollars this year for a specific purpose.  Great!  That’s 250 bucks a month.  So to stretch this goal just a bit, up your saving amount to 275 bucks.  Then, each month, check in on your goal to see how you are doing.  If you are able it would be good to find a person or two to hold you accountable to your goals also.
  2. Read at least twelve books this year.  The average American apparently reads around 17 books a year.  That seems like a lot!  But it is encouraging to know that folks are still reading.  So, here’s a suggestion: read one book a month.  It doesn’t have to be huge.  It doesn’t have to be one genre or another.  And it doesn’t have to dovetail with your vocation, but it could.  In fact, it might be good to alternate “useful” books with “fun” books each month.  For me that would mean reading one biblical studies/theology book and then one fiction book.  The purpose of this idea is not to just crowd your house or e-reader with more books.  And the hope isn’t to make you look or feel smarter.  The purpose is for all of us to be involved in some continued development and some stress-reducing downtime.
  3. Make prayer a habit.  I’m not going to prescribe to you exactly how you should pray or exactly how often you should.  But I will say that it’s highly doubtful that in 12 months from now you’ll regret having spent time in prayer.  My wife and I have found praying together and as individuals each day to be helpful.  You may want to do what we do or you may want to do something totally different.  Either way, my encouragement to you is for you to pray and to do so often!
  4. Have fun!  Would it be crazy to plan something once a month or so for the sole purpose of having fun?  You may even want to do it more often than that!  These fun things could be anything at all: taking an architectural tour of the town your live in; playing touch football in the park; going hiking; picking up a new hobby; throwing a party; attending a party; etc.  You really could do anything.  The point, however, is that if you plan to do something fun each month, then you’ll always have that to look forward to when things get tough (and we all know they will!).  So, you have full permission to have a blast!
  5. Invest in your community with your time and talents.  During the upcoming new year it would be awesome if all of us spent more time giving back.  There are literally millions of ways that we could serve folks in our neighborhoods.  Here are a few ideas off the top of my head:
    • Contact the principal at your closest school and ask how you can help out.
    • Find a local foster-care agency and see how you can be a blessing to the kids who are served there.
    • Volunteer regularly at your church.
    • Help kick start or continue a “beautify your park/town” initiative.
    • Be a mentor or a tutor for kids in your neighborhood through local non-profits.


What do you think?  What are some other ways that you can make the new year great?  Let me know below!

Creating Missional Alignment

Creating Alignment

Hans / Pixabay

I read an interesting post on Fast Company’s website today called “Popularity Means Nothing–The Missing Step to Startup Success.”  In the article Bhavin Parikh and Aaron Schwartz make a convincing claim that alignemnt is a key factor for success.  They share five ways of creating alignment.  In this post I’d like to apply these ideas to creating missional alignment in a Christian community.

  1. Set Your Vision — Parikh and Schwartz begin by saying that a company should be able to say why it exists in one sentence.  I believe that a Christian community should be able to as well.  Why does your community meet?  What are y’all about?  Here’s an example: “Together, we want to connect with God, foster authentic community, and serve our neighbors.”  Pretty simple to write…but the challenge would be aligning all you do around that one statement.  Doing so would necessitate saying “no” to things that fall outside of the vision!
  2. Define Your Values — In order for a company to succeed, the people working there need to be able to make decisions.  How do they do that?  One way is by having clearly-defined values that help folks choose what might be best.  The same thing holds true for a missional community.  The community needs some core values or it will begin to drift from its vision.  Those values might look something like this: Inclusivity, diversity, honesty, sharing, incarnation, and proclamation.  Thus, when push comes to shove, any member of your community can call to mind your core values and make a decision in support of them!
  3. Identify your BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) — Parikh and Schwartz label the BHAG as a goal 1-3 years out on the horizon that should be a stretch.  It’s important to have a BHAG because it lets everyone know what is the company is driving toward.  This can absolutely apply to a missional community.  But a word of warning: many of us followers of Jesus will make a way-too out of reach BHAG.  For instance, we might make it a goal that within the next three years we’ll eradicate homelessness in our neighborhood.  This is just ludicrous!  A better goal is more specific, measurable, and do-able (though a stretch).  So perhaps something like this: We will multiply our missional community three times in the next three years.  That’s a big goal that will help create alignment!
  4. Set Department Goals — Having a clear and inspiring BHAG is good but by setting department goals actual progress toward the BHAG can be tracked.  So, for a missional community that might look like this: We’ll have more people at our communal worship times, we’ll have 85% involvement in intentional communities, and we’ll average 2 hours of community service a person a month.  If those goals are met, alignment will be forged and progress toward the BHAG (multiplying) will come!
  5. Track Key Metrics — Measuring stuff is important.  Duh.  But what we measure might be even more important than the measuring itself.  Parikh and Schwartz write: “At the end, though, you need to make sure that the metrics you track and the targets you pursue on a daily basis will help you hit your BHAG and thus fulfill your greater vision.”  Thus, for a business to succeed it needs to track the right things well.  How does this apply to a missional community?  We need to track some stuff.  Traditionally Christians in the West have tracked butts, buildings, and budgets (AKA attendance, physical space, and money).  And while each of these things is important, so are intentional community involvement and community service.  It’s been said that what you measure tends to grow and this is, for the most part, true.  Why?  Because the things we measure are things that we pay attention to and celebrate publically.  Thus, we could possibly see significant positive change if we paid attention to and celebrated publicly intentional community and service!

Doing these five things can certainly build alignment into a missional community.  If we did each of them better, then  it would create a greater buy-in from everyone, thus helping us fulfill the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission!

What do you think?  What other sorts of things might create missioanl alingment?

Goal Setting in Marriage

Anyone who knows me knows that I almost always rail against structure.  I like to be spontaneous, free, and, frankly, last-minute.  From my biased opinion of my experience, I’m convinced that I work best when these factors are present.  And, by and large, I’ve had some measure of success operating this way.

But the Lord saw fit to lead me to marry my wife Alida.  She’s a planner, a list-maker, and an organizer.  In fact, when she’s in planning mode, she’ll write on her master list which sub-lists she needs to make!  And she’s had a great deal of success living in this manner.

Put the two of us together…well you can imagine the sorts of difficulties we face!  Alida is hoping that we’ll plan and I’m pushing things to the deadline.  I’m hoping to explore random things at the last minute and Alida is thinking ahead to a weekend two months from now.

OpenClips / Pixabay

And for the longest time we just dealt with these tensions.  I’m not sure why exactly, but we never really addressed this issue…for years!  But once I entered into the dissertation phase of my PhD, my life needed to get much more structured.  I needed to research and write everyday, on top of my other responsibilities too.  In order for me to get through this thing in one piece I had to start organizing my life  a bit.  I needed a target to shoot at.

So at first I just tried to do things on my own.  I would watch Alida and try to mimic some of her planning behavior.  This worked kind of well.  But I needed the inside scoop.  My pride, however, prevented me from actually asking for help.  So I waited.

And eventually, after a while, Alida suggested that we do a weekly meeting so that she and I could be on the same page.  To be totally honest, my wife had offered this suggestion many times before, and I had poo-pooed it every single time.  Like I said earlier, Alida is just built this way but since she discovered Michael Hyatt’s podcast she’s been way more goal-focused.  Needless to say,  she was so excited when I finally gave in!

So, for the better part of a year Aldia and I have been having a weekly meeting.  We discuss our schedules for the upcoming week, our workout plans, when our date will be, and any special errands that need to be run.

There’s one more thing we do: we set weekly goals.  We divide these up into various categories, like “personal,” “work,” “spiritual,” and “relationship.”  Our hope is that we can help one another accomplish our goals and check in on our progress in the future.

Now I’d love to say that doing this has resulted in awe-inspiring results.  It hasn’t.  But it has produced positive results.  Here are a few of them:

Setting goals has helped us…

  • …be more intentional.  We both now know what it is that we’re trying to do so that each of us can focus better individually and as a couple.
  • …understand one another better.  By weekly hearing one another’s goals we get to enter into one another’s thought processes.  This has proven to be so valuable for our relationship!
  • …hold each other accountable.  People always say that it’s hard to hold your spouse accountable; and, for the most part, that is true.  But setting goals together gives each of us the freedom to check in on one another.
  • …know how to pray specifically for one another.  While part of our meeting also involves sharing our prayer needs with one another, knowing each other’s goals has helped us know how to pray for one another more holistically.


Is goal setting important to you?  How do you do it?