Making New Year’s resolutions is easy. Keeping them is hard. Some Christians think the annual habit of making new goals is legalistic, ill-conceived, and doomed to failure. I’m not so negative. I think the new year provides a good opportunity to evaluate current practices and consider how the Spirit might enable us to set better priorities in the future.
But this post isn’t about arduous resolutions. Well, not exactly. It’s about something simpler. It’s about your calendar and about making decisions now that will serve you later in the year.
As the saying goes, the hardest step is often the first one. So if you can get important dates down on your calendar, you are already well on your way to getting that important thing done.
So here are 20 things you may want to consider putting on your calendar over the next week. No one will do all of these, or even most of them, but as I look at my life, I realize that adding just a few of these dates would be a big step in the right direction.
- Schedule a date night with your husband or wife for sometime in the next six weeks. Take Valentine’s Day if you have to.
- If you are a pastor, or have flexibility in your schedule, put two prayer days on the calendar.
- Sign up for a 5k race.
- Plan a special one-on-one outing with one or more of your kids.
- Put a date on the calendar when you and your friend will recite the Bible verses you’re memorizing.
- Invite over the new family from church and get it down on your calendar.
- Set up a time to talk on the phone with that old friend you’ve about lost touch with.
- Make a written commitment to give an extra financial gift to your church, your school, your missionaries, or some other gospel-centered cause.
- Plan for a week-long digital fast and get the dates on your calendar.
- Buy tickets to a ball game, a concert, or a special show. If you can, buy extra tickets so you can invite someone who needs a night out.
- Call up a hurting person and ask for the best time to bring over a meal or take them out to dinner. Don’t take no for an answer.
- Pencil Sunday school or the evening service into your Sunday schedule. Give it a good try for a month.
- Get your vacation plans firmed up. Make the arrangements now, then start saving. And remember, it’s usually better to spend money on experiences and memories as opposed to stuff.
- Clear off a work day sometime in the next year. Surprise your family by staying home.
- Circle Pie Day on your calendar (3.14) and make plans to bring pie to an assisted-living facility or to your neighbor’s house.
That’s probably enough ideas to get you started. “But you said you had 20 things!” you might interject. True, but the last five are for calendar clearing, not for calendar filling.
- If you are in more than two Bible studies/small groups, and neither is evangelistic in nature, consider removing one from your schedule if it frees you up to be more present at home and less stressed for your family.
- If your kids are doing more than one sport or activity a season, try cutting it back to a single thing each season, especially if the events are causing you to miss corporate worship.
- Turn one of your planned getaways into a stay-cation.
- Put a Sabbath week (or even a three-day stretch) in your calendar twice a year. Keep the dates rigidly free of activities. Use the time to catch up on chores, catch up on your Bible reading, or just catch your breath.
- Get more sleep, and don’t feel guilty about it. Make those seven or eight hours as immovable as possible and adjust the rest of life accordingly.
Nothing revolutionary. And nothing mandatory (though evening worship comes close). But hopefully something helpful for everyone to consider.