Six Questions You Should Ask at the Beginning of 2023
Some questions you should consider so you can see growth in the new year.
Most people say they hate Mondays, but I’ll be honest, I love them. Mondays give me an opportunity to start the new week with a blank slate. If last week went poorly, I have a chance to start over and refocus. This is also the reason I love the first day of the month. So, as you can imagine, like most people, I love the turn of the page that signifies a new year. It’s a chance to step back, take stock, look at things I want to change, and refocus on what matters the most.
Unfortunately, we often stumble out of the blocks on our “New Year’s resolutions,” don’t we? The problem is that we get started on New Year’s Day. You may have stayed up too late and therefore slept late on the first day of the year. I live in Alabama, so our New Year’s Day is devoted not to work, but to college football. Most of us have goals related to weight loss and there is no worse way to get started than snacking while watching football all day.
What I started doing a couple of years ago was to abandon the idea of New Year’s resolutions and instead start thinking about what I wanted to focus on for the next year in early December. Then I started implementing changes that would make progress on my goals before the new year begins. What this allowed me to do was to get out of the habit of thinking the new year would magically change me into a new person.
To help me think about what I need to focus on in 2023, I sat down last week and I wrote a list of questions I needed to think through. Walking through these questions helped me to think about what needs to change, what I need to refocus on, and what I need to plan. (I picked up a few of these questions from others, though I cannot remember where, and others came from personal experience.)
Here are 6 questions I am asking myself heading into 2023.
What are my roles?
You cannot focus on behaviors you will change or habits you will implement until you think through the roles that you fill. If you are a Christian, that is your first role. Family relationships define your second and possibly third roles. Christians who are single and live away from family may want their close friendships to define this second role. Either way, you want your relationship with God and those closest to you to frame the way you think about your roles outside the home. For those who follow Jesus, you have a role as a member of your local church. Then you move out to your roles at work or other organizations.
Roles define your goals. Thinking about your goals for the next year will be futile outside the context of your predefined roles. These roles show you where you need to grow and what changes in your life will make the biggest difference.
What two changes will make the biggest difference in my life?
I want you to picture your life as a series of dominos for this question. What are two dominos, that if they fell into place, would knock other dominos into place as well? In other words, this question is not about goals, but about what would most dramatically impact your quality of life.
Allow me to use a trite example. Let’s say that you think you need to lose 25 pounds and save $1,000. Every morning, you stop and buy breakfast on the way to work and it costs $8. At that rate, your unhealthy breakfast costs close to $2,000 a year. What if you woke up 15 minutes earlier so you could make a healthier and more cost-effective breakfast at home? In addition, you could make the time to read your Bible while you ate breakfast. In this case, waking up 15 minutes earlier each day would be the change that affected at least three other areas of your life.
What are two things you need to cut out of your life right now?
Your not-to-do list may be more important than your to-do list. This is not advice that is original to me. It is in almost any book you read on lifestyle design or personal effectiveness. Think about the areas of your life that cause the most negative effects on the others and cut them out now.
For many of us, we need to cut mindless time wasters out of our lives. Notice I did not say we need to spend less time resting. If anything, we need more legitimate rest and fun. Too much of our downtime is spent mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching YouTube videos. These diversions often make us angry, get us behind on our work, increase our feelings of loneliness, and drive our dissatisfaction with our own lives. Put down the phone and rest. Put down the phone and take up a new hobby.
How can I make more time for people?
We spend a lot of time at the beginning of the new year thinking about personal development and not enough thinking about relationships. If the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves, then how we form new relationships and develop the ones we already have ought to occupy a larger space in our thinking.
For too many of us, we hear about making more space for other people and we think it means adding to our schedule. That is not the case, though. For most of us, we are already participating in activities that put us around people. We need to think more strategically about how to engage them and how to get to know them. Through this, we have more opportunities to share Jesus with people who don’t know him and also to encourage our brothers and sisters.
How will I grow in God’s word?
I once heard Jen Wilkin comment that we are in a biblical literacy crisis in the American church. Who could argue with her? We spend little time reading our Bibles and even less time thinking about how we are going to grow in our knowledge of the Scriptures. We cannot remedy this problem overnight, so we need to think about how we are going to engage in God’s word every single day.
As you start to look at how you are going to grow in God’s word, think about it in two categories– deep and wide. By this, I mean that you need a plan for growing in your grasp of the entirety of Scripture and for drilling deeper into individual Biblical passages. To do this, pick a plan for reading the whole Bible over the next year or year and a half. Also, decide on one book or section of a book that you will read in more detail or memorize. In this way, you’ll grow in knowing what is in the whole Bible while also experiencing the transforming power of individual verses. (If you are looking for a good reading plan, check out the Bible Eater Plan, Navigators Plan, or Robert Murray Mc’Cheyne’s plan. You might also want to consider the practice of repeated Bible reading. If you want to know where to start memorizing Scripture, look at this list of 15 verses or this list of 8 longer passages.)
How Should I Adjust My Daily Rhythms?
Sometimes we focus on a big project like “I want to read the whole Bible this year” or “I want to lose 50 pounds.” No big goals can be accomplished in a day. Instead, following through on these things is usually a matter of the small decisions that you make throughout the day. So, look at your big goals and ask what you need to do each day to plug away at them. Then, make them part of your daily rhythm.
For example, if you need to get out of debt, maybe you need to get into a routine of making coffee at home and fixing yourself lunch to take to the office so you don’t eat out. If you want to read the Bible through this year, look at when you are going to read Scripture each day and how many chapters you need to read. When committing to Scripture memory, what is going to be your rhythm for learning new verses and reviewing old ones?
These are just a few suggestions of questions you could ask yourself to jumpstart progress for next year. Growth matters because Peter called us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” In addition, God commands us to be stewards of what he has given us and to glorify him with our bodies. We want to continue to make an impact on those around us for his Kingdom. Therefore, doesn’t it follow that we need to give careful thought to how we are going to grow so that we can bring glory to God in every aspect of this life he has entrusted to us?
For Further Reading:
The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Early
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