I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions but the beginning of a new year is a good time to reflect on our lives, our goals, and to make adjustments that will make us better stewards of ourselves, those for whom we are responsible, and our vocational callings.
While the following are not novel insights, they are useful reminders in the spirit of Peter’s declaration to the church:
Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder ... (2 Peter 1:12-13)
Habits of the Heart
Learn the virtue of contentment:
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,“ The Lord is my helper; I will not fear … ” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
Not that I am speaking of being in need for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11–13)
Learning to be content will bring peace of heart and mind.
Acknowledge and confess sin.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn. 1:8-9)
Genuine confession and repentance leads to holiness, a vital relationship with Christ, and a quiet and peaceful conscience.
Schedule daily time in God’s word. This brings wisdom and spiritual growth.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:2)
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (Jn. 17:17)
Habits for Health
I know, you already know what to do. The problem is not in the knowing but in the doing. You don’t need my reminder but hear me out. You can do better not by making a New Year’s resolution but by establishing habits and routines that will help you do what you want to do but find difficult to consistently do. For more information on this, I recommend James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones.
Early to bed and early to rise. It may not make you wealthy and wise but it will contribute to good health and mental alertness.
Get as many steps in a day as possible.
Park far away, not close, to your work, the store, etc.
Take the stairs, not the elevator, for five or less floors.
Manage by walking around.
Hold walking meetings.
Schedule 30 minutes a day for five days a week for exercise of some sort.
Track what you eat. It’s a pain but worth it.
Never go for seconds.
Eat half of what is served at the restaurant, save the rest for later.
Eliminate sugar from as many beverages as possible. I personally drink no beverages containing sugar.
Reduce your consumption of television news. Most of it, especially cable news, is not news—it is entertainment masquerading as news. Get your news from reading. Reducing or eliminating the consumption of cable news and talk radio will reduce stress and as we know, stress is unhealthy.
Habits for Work
Read at least one book per month. You will grow personally and professionally and will have more to offer others. You will also be a more interesting person.
Do a weekly review of all upcoming projects, tasks, and commitments. For more information on the value of the weekly review, click here.
Schedule uninterrupted time for your most important projects. If the nature of your work makes it difficult to schedule uninterrupted time during the course of your normal work hours, do it early in the morning—another reason to get up early. I arrive at the office at around 6:00am so that I have uninterrupted time in God’s word and to work on important projects.
Check email only a few times during the day and process emails in bulk. Do not let emails consume your day and control you—control your email.
These reminders are simple (not necessarily easy) and are free. If you can become generally consistent, not perfect, in developing these habits of heart, health, and work, I believe that you will be healthier, wiser, more content, more at peace, and more productive in stewarding yourself, and those for whom God has given you responsibility, and your work.
Have a great New Year!