How Will You Begin the New Year?

How Will You Begin the New Year? December 13, 2023

How will you begin the new year?
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Is it that time already!? The calendar says yes, but my emotions scream, “No-o-o-o-o-o!” When I resign myself to the reality of another new year, I immediately hear the haunting voice that questions, “How will you begin the New Year?” Will it be with new resolutions and goals, or will I be honest enough to admit that in decades of trying, I’ve yet to see one through to the end of the year? I am tempted to throw up my hands and say, “What’s the use,” in light of all my past failures.

Make it personal

What about you? Is there an urgent desire to make adjustments, expand your horizons, or complete a project? Are you wishing for an uptick in your finances, good news from the doctor, or the arrival of a long-awaited grandchild? If not, you are probably in the minority. Most of us, even those who tend toward pessimism, hope each year will get better rather than worse. I guess that somewhere deep inside, we all have a glimmer of hope that the next year will be brighter, more peaceful, and more representative of the Christian message of love.

In a world of generalizations and a culture that encourages excusing ourselves for practically every shortcoming, it’s sometimes hard to drill down deep and address the new year and its challenges. We tend to compare ourselves to others, decide that we’re really in pretty good shape, and shrug our shoulders. Thus, we deny the need for setting the bar and our expectations a little higher. It’s an easier way out but far less beneficial. So, how will you begin the new year? If your hope is for a better year, whatever metric you’re using, here are some suggestions that may help.

Be intentional and specific

This is not a groundbreaking discovery. Haphazard, general ideas rarely get accomplished; if they do, they were probably so undefined that you didn’t know when you reached them. Make setting your plans and clarifying your vision for next year an intentional exercise. Make an imagination list that allows you to think outside the box. Cut or print out pictures and assemble a “dream book” that visually captures your hopes for next year. Design something tangible that you can pull out, feel, and see that puts your dreams and aspirations in a form you can touch.

Even the Bible endorses this method. In Habakkuk 2:2-3 (MSG), we read these words, “And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.” As believers, our dreams and aspirations should emanate from time in prayer and consultation with God. Jeremiah tells us that God has good plans for us. I believe He wants to share those plans with us.

Recruit a Team

We struggle most when we attempt things on our own. Undoubtedly, some things are too personal to share, especially regarding specific personal goals. But for the most part, having at least one partner (preferably two or three) who can encourage you, cheer you on, and keep your intimate conversations (about your successes and failures) confidential is absolutely necessary.

Sometimes, we call this process mentorship. In Christian circles, we often refer to discipleship. You may just refer to this person as a good friend. Whatever you call them, they can make the difference between reaching your goals or failing to meet them. Choose them carefully. A toxic relationship can spoil your dreams and cause your vision to crash and burn.

Record Your Accomplishments

We all know the joy that comes when we check things off our “to-do” list. We can achieve the same satisfaction by acknowledging our successes when we reach one of our goals next year. Depending on the size of the accomplishment, reward yourself. For something relatively minor, throw a mini-party (eat a cookie, take five minutes to listen to a favorite song, or call a friend and chat). If you experience a medium-sized victory, go to the movies, go out to dinner, or buy yourself that book you’ve wanted. When you reach a major goal, treat yourself to something significant (a new outfit, a new streaming service, or invite your “team” over to help you celebrate).


Let this all be a learning experience. Figure out what worked, what didn’t, and which goals were less important than you thought. Refine, refigure, and regroup for the following year, but don’t retreat. Life is a process. It doesn’t happen in one year or two. Pat yourself on the back for your successes, wipe away the tears for the missed opportunities, and take down last year’s calendar and put up the new year’s with a smile, knowing that this will be a great year!


About Dr. Rick McKinney
Dr. Rick McKinney has lived an extraordinary life of ministry. Once described as a “maverick,” the has literally stepped out into the unknown to embrace God’s call and has experienced His presence in a way that only comes through a life of obedience. Whether planting and pastoring churches, traveling the world to perform concerts, building a house in Mexico, traveling from village to village in India, or walking across America, he has followed His voice as He led him forward, one step at a time. You can read more about the author here.

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