My life isn’t perfect.  I seem to make promises I can’t keep, I set goals that I sometimes miss, and I disappoint those I love the most.  Maybe you can relate.  This is why I love the month of January.  It provides us all a big reminder.

It could be argued that December is the best month of the year, because that is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Or maybe it is March or April, when we celebrate the risen Christ.  Some might make a case for certain months of the year based on sporting events.  Not me.  I need January.  It serves me well.

January reminds me to reflect, and gives me the opportunity to start new.

My wife and I just got married a few months ago; coming up on 120 (10 years), to be exact.  My oldest son is now seven.  It was just yesterday when he was born.  When I got married, I pictured something, and when I became a dad I pictured something.  It was the picture of the ideal.  I envisioned what life could be like with my wife, and what a great dad I would be for my kids.

I’ve found that I rarely hit the target precisely where I was aiming.  Heck, sometimes I don’t even hit the target.  This brings me back to me point:  January serves me well.

Steph and I are finishing up our process of creating our goals for the year.  I’ve written about how – and more importantly why – we do this in this post.  This year we have taken a slightly different approach.  We’ve reflected more.

Why reflection matters:

We nailed some of our goals from last year.  We gave away more money and saved more money than we had planned in 2012.  That is great.  We – especially me – bombed our health goals for the year.  Not good.  I hit my goal of books I read last year.  That’s good.  But some of our family goals we didn’t hit.  Not good.

Reflecting on last year helps us find our bearing.  We are moving a certain direction whether we like it or not.  All of us.  We are not static.  So the question for all of us is, “are we moving the direction we want to be moving?”

My pastor friend wrote this great post about hitting our goals but missing the point.  In reference to his past goals he says:

I’m close to throwing all these in the trash though, because I keep adding more and more goals to my life, and the end result is an erosion of peace, especially the kind of peace that is promised by Christ here.  I’m beginning to wonder if all this goal setting isn’t just another carnival, tailor made for type A Americans to distract us from things that really matter.”

Later he goes on to say:

The truth is that I can meet all those goals and still find myself on the summit of accomplishments, only to realize that I’ve climbed the wrong mountain. To put it another way – I can reach all my goals, and still be far from the life God has in mind for me.”

After reflecting on 2012, I now see the areas where my heart has drifted, or become sterile.  It’s now time to do do something about it.

Why starting new is so good:

Our God is a gracious God, who eagerly provides all of us with second chances.

Starting the new year reminds me that I’ve been made new already.  It reminds me that I have one life to live.  It reminds me that my kids will be out of our house before we know it.  It reminds me that God has given me gifts to steward while on this earth.  It reminds me that my marriage is either improving or getting worse.

More than anything, starting new reminds me of the love of my Father.  Galatians 5:25 says,

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

Walking by the Spirit is something we will fall down doing many times.  But God is a loving Father, who quickly helps us off the ground, dusts us off, and smiles as we try again.

What we’re doing differently in 2013:

1. We are setting fewer goals.  The goals we are setting help set the direction, and don’t just serve as trophies to earn throughout the year.

2. I’ve assigned this year a theme:  Take a Step.  This year I want to remind myself to take a step toward Jesus, to take many steps of faith, to do something about injustice and to take the step if I sense the Spirit prompting me.

3. We established one thing to focus on with our kids: Gratefulness.  This year we will focus on modeling grateful hearts to our kids, teaching our kids what gratefulness looks like, and giving them plenty of opportunities to express their gratefulness.

All that to say, I do love December, and I’m thankful for the month when we celebrate Easter. However, January gives me the chance to hit “reset.”  It provides you the same opportunity.  Will you take it?

Have you reflected on last year, or set any goals for this upcoming one?

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