Ready or not, the new year is here. How do you approach it? Many are happy to put the challenges and heartaches of the old year behind and look forward with expectancy to the journey ahead. Others cast a backward glance, clinging to what is behind, hesitant to step onto the road before them.
Following are six ways to experience peace and fulfillment this year:
Set Reasonable Goals
Often we start a new year with lofty goals—write a book, lose 40 pounds, implement a rigorous exercise program—but it doesn’t take long for life to intervene and those goals to seem impossible. Soon you give up on what you resolved to accomplish and feel defeated. Instead, set reasonable goals. Begin small and work up. Aspire to goals that are attainable, and once those are accomplished, challenge yourself to move beyond. Enlist the help of an accountability partner if you don’t trust yourself. Realize that small, incremental achievements yield big results. Maintain forward motion one step at a time.
Make Rest a Priority
Most of us don’t allow time for our bodies and minds to rest and replenish. Instead of watching a rerun of a program you’ve already seen or spending time online, get in bed and read or listen to calming music. When your body signals sleep with a chill or slower breathing, turn off the light and allow sleep to overtake you. Sometimes our bodies are smarter than we are. Learn to recognize your body rhythms and yield to them.
Don’t Engage in Social Media Debates
I mention this often, but social media contention is rampant and alluring. However, the best thing you can do is keep scrolling or disengage. Take a walk and think about something else instead of formulating a rebuttal. If you can’t resist, write your reply on a piece of paper and then leave it there.
Like words said in anger or frustration, words posted on social media live on and can have unintended, detrimental consequences. You may have a negative impact on someone you never imagined is following you on social media. Strive to speak words that edify and build up rather than tear down.
From sports to the business, we are a competitive, over-achieving society. We watch others to see what they are buying, doing, wearing, and saying and try to imitate, but we also try to go a notch above, a step beyond. Instead, identify and cultivate your own areas of strength. Each of us has God-given gifts and talents. Don’t ignore them. Cultivate your creativity, not to compete, but to experience fulfillment and honor your gifts.
Disconnect from Users
The world is full of people who take advantage of others. I’m not talking about those who are truly in need, rather those who consistently and systematically use others for their own benefit.
Years ago, a woman joined our choir. I sat by her one night, and before rehearsal began, she poured out her sad tale of life challenges. I was touched. Over the course of six months, I listened to her, advised, and helped financially. Then some of her words and actions set off alarm bells, allowing my brain to override my heart.
I began investigating and discovered she had exploited a number of other people in our choir as well as several staff members. I also learned she had an established pattern of “using up” people in many churches in surrounding towns. In my last contact with her, I confronted her about her usury and challenged her to make changes in her life that would solve some of her problems. I never saw her again.
Sometimes those who use us are subtle. Often, it’s not about money, but exploitation of time, wisdom, and talents. Be wise. Pay attention. Watch for warning signs. Protect yourself and your family and don’t feel guilty for disconnecting from a user.
Nurture Your Spiritual Life
Many go to great lengths to enhance their bodies and minds, but never do much to nurture themselves spiritually. Yet spiritual growth and development are integral to peace and fulfillment. This year, make spiritual enrichment a priority. Acknowledge and seek a relationship with God, your creator. Spend time in prayer and the study of God’s Word, both of which are conduits to peace. Trust God for his plan for your life and what lies ahead in this new year, and then move forward in faith with and His blessing .
“May the Lord show favor toward you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:26 NLV