Congratulations on making it through this year! 🥳
The last 12 months have been a wild ride, and we can’t wait to put down the heavy backpack we have been carrying all through 2023 in the corner for a bit of a breather.
Alas, just as we’re about to settle down to relax, we’re assailed by thoughts about the new year. We find our social media news feed flooded with “new year, new me” promotions, and friends asking about our resolutions and plans.
If you’re not quite feeling ready for the new year, don’t worry, we’ve listed four ways we can greet the new year when it comes knocking on our door, and embrace the next 52 weeks God has created with joy.
1. Re-evaluate your New Year’s resolutions
We may have big plans for the new year, like excelling in our exams, landing a promotion or a dream job, or completely overhauling our unhealthy eating habits (salads for the rest of the year, anyone?).
But as the new year creeps towards us on the horizon, the idea of tackling all these big new goals suddenly seems insurmountable, and we just cannot be bothered. However, there’s no need to give up on our resolutions or goals, because they do give us something to look forward to.
But before we go headfirst into any of them, it pays to first count the cost of each goal (Luke 14:28-30). For instance, if we want to land a promotion, we have to consider what skills we must first gain so we’re qualified for the next post, or if want to to overhaul our bad eating habits, what must we first cull? And, do we have the time and bandwidth to acquire new skills at work while also creating new eating habits?
Re-evaluating our goals allows us to ask ourselves which ones are doable and important to us. Maybe, while landing a promotion or a dream job is nice, altering our eating habits is probably a lot more important because we’re starting to feel the effects of all that fast food we’ve been consuming.
Or maybe what we’d most like is to continue chipping away on what we have already set out doing this year—and that’s perfectly okay too.
Whatever your resolution or goal may be for the year, choose doable items, and don’t forget to pace yourself in the process because it isn’t a competition to see who has finished their goals first.
2. Recall God’s goodness over the past year
The new year is a blank slate filled with plenty of opportunities. But for some of us, not knowing what the next 12 months hold is giving us all kinds of anxiety. Maybe we’re waiting to hear back from the colleges we have applied to, or there are talks of a restructuring happening at work, or we’re job hunting and unsure what’s out there for us.
As we prepare for the new year, we can look back on this year and count the ways God has brought us through, in the big and small moments of our lives. For instance, the way He healed us from a cold, or how He was with us in our college or work presentations. Reflecting on these gives us the confidence that God is always with us, and we don’t have to fret and worry about what’s ahead because we know we can rely on Him.
Recalling the ways God has come through for us is also biblical, and we see how in Deuteronomy 4:9, the Israelites were asked to “watch themselves closely so that they do not forget the things their eyes have seen or let them fade from their hearts”. Likewise, you can do so by writing down the different ways you have seen God at work in your life over the past year, or recount His faithfulness with your friends and family as you remind each other of His goodness.
So let’s not allow the uncertainties of the new year to rob us of our joy, and look forward to ending the year well and enjoying Christmas with our loved ones.
3. Remember to look after your mental health
The end of the year can be incredibly hectic, with a million things happening, such as Christmas parties, church outreach activities and Christmas carols, and wrapping up different projects at work.
Our brain may feel like it’s ready to call it quits on the side of the road. But we tell ourselves we must push on and be resilient. “We will take our break when the holiday rolls around”, we tell ourselves as we pack in yet another must-do.
So we continue to wear our mental health down to a point of no return, and that’s not a good place to be. We’re unlikely to enjoy ourselves if our mental health is doing poorly, so it’s even more important to take some time to be kind to ourselves and check in on our mental well-being.
It can be as easy as taking 10 minutes to have a cup of tea by yourself, putting some worship music on to pray, or just saying “no” to the nth Christmas party or New Year countdown because your social battery is starting to hit zero percent.
Remember, God rested from all of His work on the seventh day (Genesis 2), and Jesus napped (Mark 4:38), so, rest is good and holy, and investing in rest now allows us to tackle the new year with a relaxed and recharged mind.
4. Realign yourself with God
We may be bursting with excitement at the thought of a new year. In our hearts, we have planned for all the things we would love to tackle next year. But did we take the time to bring God into our plans, or have we planned all of our things without Him and simply told Him to bless them?
Spending time to realign ourselves with God allows us to hear His heart, and where He’s leading us to next. Perhaps we’re to stay put in our current job, or maybe He’s moving us to be more generous in our giving, or maybe He’s telling us that we don’t need to impress anyone with our big New Year’s resolutions because His idea of success is different to the world’s.
Realigning our hearts with God’s shows us where our priorities lie, such as spending more time with Him in prayer and worship, trusting Him to guide us in our everyday lives, and knowing that we never have to compete or compare ourselves with everyone else because He has a different track for us to run.
Scripture says unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain (Psalm 127). So as we head into the new year with our hopes and plans, do also spend time praying them through with God to see which ones He’d like us to hold on to, let go, or just simply wait on Him. Isn’t that such a relief from thinking we must make it all happen in our strength?
The new year brings with it new starts and fresh possibilities, but it can also be overwhelming because some of us are still grappling with the events that have happened this year and aren’t quite ready to move into 2024 yet.
Whichever way we view the new year, the most important thing to remember is that it isn’t just about us and our personal goals, but about living our lives each day in such a way that we’d be carrying out the “goals” God already has for us—to love and forgive one another (John 13:34, Ephesians 4:32), be generous with each other (Luke 6:38), to love Him with all of our hearts and our minds (Luke 10:27). God is more than able to see us through the new year, and will weather come what may with us, so we can leave the year ahead and its uncertainties in His capable hands
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