Author L. M. Montgomery wrote the now well-known line, “Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it…yet.” God is kind in giving us fresh new mornings, as well as brand new years and the chance to hit a proverbial “Refresh” button!
We are all on a trajectory—moving in a direction, becoming who we will be, one small choice at a time. It’s important to know what you’re aiming at in life and then evaluate how you’re doing at getting there. It’s popular to talk about “resolutions” at this time of the year, but whether you make them or not, it’s always wise to make intentional, calculated “tweaks” or adjustments to your course to make sure you arrive at your desired destination.
Picture the following areas—spiritual, emotional, relational, mental and physical—as spokes on a wheel. In order to thrive and be healthy, it’s important that all these “spokes” are strong and well-maintained. It’s what gives integrity to your forward movement. As you kick off 2021, make it a point to get alone somewhere for some reflection. Take “inventory” of your life in the following areas and set some adjustment goals:
Spiritual. As believers, our top priority should be to glorify God through knowing Jesus. All other areas of life flow from this. How are you doing in your relationship with Him? Spiritual disciplines that can potentially strengthen this area are: prayer, Bible study, memorization, fasting, worship, journaling, service, solitude and silence (just to name a few). Which discipline would you like to explore or grow in this year? Who is helping to sharpen you spiritually? When our walk with God is strong, we will find growth in other areas of life as well.
Relational. 2020 was a rough year. Maybe you’ve found yourself socially isolated and lonely. If so, it may be wise to establish some new relational patterns. It’s important to maintain meaningful connection with family and friends, but sometimes in college this can be especially challenging. Is there a relationship you need to press into? Maybe one where you need to apply grace and forgiveness? If you’re in a romantic relationship, is it one that honors God? Who is pouring into you, as a mentor? Who might God want you to disciple and pour into? Oftentimes we grow most when we are giving of ourselves. Is there someone younger than you who could benefit from the wisdom you have to offer?
Emotional. When we go through experiences of loss and grief (and who didn’t in 2020, on some level?) it’s important to allow ourselves time and space to grieve as this leads to emotional healing. Do you have grief that needs to be processed by talking with a trusted friend or in counseling? Is there an area of emotional health that needs some attention? How are you doing with managing the stress of college life? Are there new boundaries that need to be put in place in order to give you more margin for rest, meaningful relationship or spiritual growth?
Mental. A secular Gallup poll conducted recently indicated that those with the strongest mental health at the end of 2020 were those who were attending church at least once a week. Why? Apparently, our mental health is closely linked with our spiritual and relational health. Are you regularly worshiping with other believers? The mental area also includes our volition or will. Therefore, much of our life direction comes back to this. How have I decided to spend my time? How about my money? How do these areas reflect what I prioritize? Are there changes that need to be made in order to bring my actions into better alignment with my stated priorities? What am I doing to grow cognitively, academically, and as a student and lifelong learner? Set a few realistic goals in this area.
Physical. Sometimes with the demands of school, this area takes a backseat. But staying healthy physically is vital to our overall well-being. When it comes to New Years’ resolutions, people often think of exercise or weight loss; gyms see a surge of new memberships at the start of a new year followed by a predictable plummet by late January. If our physical health is to be maintained, we must find a way to move exercise and healthy habits from a “to do list” into our normal lifestyle. What is a manageable, measurable physical goal for the coming year? Drinking more water? Scheduling a ten-minute walk into your daily schedule? Remember change doesn’t have to be huge to be significant.
As you start into 2021, may you find renewed strength in Him to accomplish all that is in your heart, remembering that with Him, each day is a new start, with fresh mercies (Lam. 3:22-23). Let every day of 2021 be “New Year’s Day!”