I absolutely love this time of the year and I’m not talking about December 25th. I’m talking about the 12 days of Christmas and the western New Year.
I love the reset. I love the period of evaluation. If goals need to be set, so be it. It’s a time for remembering where I want to be heading and making any tweaks necessary. Sometimes I need major changes because my trajectory is way off the mark, but other times, it’s small tweaks just to zero in on the direction that I want to be heading.
It is also a time for listening. I’ve spent a lot of time pouring out my heart lately. I’ve also spent a lot of time distracting myself with stupid games. This is the time for listening to God and preparing my heart for the year to come.
For the past three or so years I have used a planner than included weekly evaluations. I enjoyed Sacred Ordinary Days for the last two years and I’m excited to start using The Monk Manual this year. This has generally led to smaller tweaks during this time of year, but there is still something very special about getting to sit down and decide if you want to start planning for anything new in the coming year.
(I loved Sacred Ordinary Days and highly recommend it and have only switched because sometimes you need to try something new and I’m excited about the daily evaluations in The Monk Manual. For a while Sacred Ordinary Days removed the daily bible passages that I really appreciated. Now they are back, so basically it has returned to being a wonderful planner.)
Tomorrow I get to fill out this monthly plan, pick a habit to work on an try to figure out my theme. This is something I’ve done for years, but appreciate the tool of the planner. I appreciate being prompted to evaluate my relationships, body, spirit, work, personal growth and recreation (I’ll add financial resources and mental to this list because I appreciated them from Sacred Ordinary Days.) I love that weekly I am prompted to note what God is teaching me and daily it asks what I can do for others and what I’m grateful for.
I also love that we celebrate Iranian New Year as well, which means, the first day of Spring, I get a whole new start.
I love resets. It is interesting to me that the word for sin in the Bible literally means “missing the mark.” My pastor often gives the example of an archer and how a tiny change in direction makes a huge difference when the arrow flies far.
I have never been a goal setter, per se. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I graduated law school. I’ve lived life one step at a time for most of my life. I don’t think results oriented goals are bad. They just aren’t my thing. I think they motivate some people. They are more likely to make me shut down. To use a common example, setting a goal of loosing twenty pounds does nothing for me. Tweaking my life and saying I’m going to move outdoors for 20 minutes each day, is much more doable. I have also noticed at work, setting a goal of doubling participation makes me shut down, while making plans to do the things it will take to double the size of a program makes me excited and want to get started right away.
That being said, some of the most impactful things in life take planning. I’m happy to set a goal of another half marathon, or a silent retreat, or a special trip, and this is my favorite time of year to do it.
What do you do? If you don’t like traditional New Years Resolutions, do you like to do any evaluation during this time of year at all? Are you inspired by concrete goals or would you rather tweak your schedule to move in the right direction? If you “hate” New Years Resolutions, as it is very trendy to do, do you evaluate your path on any regular basis or just as the need arrises? Do you think daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly evaluations are more useful? Do you use any tool to help you?