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How to Prepare Well for a New Year

Today is one of my favorite days of the whole year! It marks the end of one chapter of life and the beginning of another - for me, for my family, and for the world around me.

(And honestly, I’m just a huge sucker for anything that feels like a fresh start!)

Over the past week I’ve been really intentional about creating space and taking time to process, pray, and prepare for entering into a new year.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek at what it’s looked like for me on a practical level…

Rest

This year was full…really full! So much happened that when I think back through it all my head starts to spin a little.

After hosting family in our home for several days over the Christmas holiday I knew we all needed some recovery time, to rest up physically, mentally and emotionally.

That’s looked like sleeping in a little later than usual, taking naps, and (trying) to get to bed at a decent time.

It’s also looked like staying home a lot and not putting many plans, activities or commitments on the calendar.

Taking this time to rest and be refreshed has been SO worthwhile. I’ve loved it so much that I’ve already blocked off the last two weeks of next year and think we might have a new annual tradition on our hands.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” - Matthew 11:28

Reflect

I think one of the best ways we can prepare well for a new year is to look back on everywhere we’ve been, all we’ve been through, and the progress that’s been made in our lives over the past year.

You could ask yourself some guiding questions like:

  • Where did I go?

  • What did I do?

  • What worked well?

  • What didn’t work well?

  • How did I grow?

  • How do I feel about the past year?

Pull out your calendar, planner or scroll back through social media if you need to in order to remember everything that happened this year (I totally had to do this because #mombrain!!)

My favorite part of this time of reflection is something Jess Connolly calls “counting the fruit” (which I absolutely love!)

The idea is to go through month-by-month counting up all the things God brought you through and all the work he accomplished in, through and around you.

I highly recommend writing out an actual list on paper or the notes app on your phone that you can keep somewhere to look back on in the future.

It’s amazing to see so vividly how God’s hand of faithfulness has been at work in your life, and praise him for it all!

“And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” - Ephesians 5:20

Pray

One of the biggest lessons I learned this year (or re-learned, I guess I should say) is just how much I don’t want to be the one directing my own life.

When I’m the one calling all the shots according to the whims of my own will, desires, and ambitions, I tend to make big, fat messes.

I don’t want to live a messy, ineffective life that’s all about me. I want to live a focused, purposeful, and productive life that glorifies God and makes a difference in the world.

The best way I’ve found to do that is through cultivating a consistent habit of prayer.

Taking time to pray over the year ahead is one of the best investments of our time and our lives we can make.

Prayer is powerful for building intimacy with our Heavenly Father, communicating our greatest hopes and deepest desires to him, and aligning our hearts with his.

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” - Colossians 4:2

Choose a Word

I believe words are powerful. God himself breathed all of creation into existence simply with his words.

A few years ago I started an annual practice of prayerfully choosing a word to meditate on and focus on cultivating in my life throughout each year, and I have LOVED it.

This past year my word was surrender…and what a year it’s been of learning what that truly means and looks like on a practical, everyday level.

For the new year, after praying and seeking God about what he has in store and wants to produce in me, I’ve settled on the word faithful (which also happens to be a spiritual fruit!)

Here’s what it means:

  1. thorough in the performance of duty

  2. true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc

  3. steadfast in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant

As we move into the new year I want to practice faithfulness in showing up to be and do what I’ve been called to well, for God’s glory and the good of others.

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.” - Luke 16:10

Set goals

After taking time to pray and seek God about where he’s leading me in the new year and choosing a word to focus on, the natural next step is obviously to set some goals or intentions to focus on cultivating.

I’m giving myself space to let my goals for this year unfold without hurry or pressure, so they aren’t all fully formed yet, but I’ll be spending the rest of today (and potentially the next few days) continuing to work on goal-setting.

(P.S. This is my favorite tool for uncovering and mapping out intentional, grace-filled goals, and for today only they’re 25% off!)

As soon as I’ve outlined some concrete goals for 2019 I’ll be sharing them here on the blog and checking in throughout the year with monthly progress posts so you can follow along.

“Good planning and hard work will lead to prosperity.” - Proverbs 21:5

So, what about you? How are you spending this last bit of 2018 and preparing to enter into a new year with purpose?

I’m joining you in prayer and believing that 2019 will be the best year of your life yet!