How do you transition in the new-year? Many people gather with friends and family on New Years Eve to celebrate together. New Years Day has a number of traditions including partaking in specific food, watching some football and sometimes even kicking off a new pattern of healthy eating.

Around the turn of the year I have a habit of taking time to look back and also to look ahead. I look back over the year to reflect, celebrate and learn. One of our family traditions is to gather all of the digital pictures we took in the previous year and put together a simple hardcover book that serves as our “year in review.”

When you look ahead to the 360+ days that await you in this new-year, what do you hope to do? What do you want to accomplish?

One of my favorite habits around this time of year is to take some time to pull away and spend time planning and dreaming for the year. It is something I encourage everyone to do, because focused time out of our daily pace is needed if we want to work on our long term perspective and a long distance plan.

I thought to kick off 2017 I would share a little of how I frame my “annual planning.”

It starts with finding the right space, somewhere outside of my daily or weekly rhythm.  The unfamiliar surroundings help me stay out of the box as I dream.

On top of my paper I will write a series of words as the title for a column:

  • Faith
  • Family
  • Fitness
  • Finance
  • Fun

These aren’t magical words, but they highlight the main areas of my life that I want to excel, experience growth and thrive.

I then will spend time thinking about the past year within that “area” and will write a paragraph to myself highlighting the “wins and losses” from that area in the last year. Once I have done that for each area I begin to ask myself questions:

Those questions along with a prayer for God to inspire, challenge and grow me allow goals to begin coming to mind. As goals come to mind I write them down under one of the heading areas. A goal for the year might be things like:

  • Do an in-depth study of 3 New Testament books.
  • Develop a new family tradition for weekends and vacations
  • Work out an average of 3 times a week

I will spend time writing down ideas for goals – things that, if I accomplished them, would help me move closer to the man, husband, father and Christ follower I want to be.

From there I pray and ask for clarity to discern which God’s should lean into and which are nice, but not necessary. This process gives me great big-picture goals that slowly affect that way I live and lead each day that year.

Now whether you use my system or something completely different, I’d like to encourage you to be intentional with this next year of living. God has given you life for a reason – go figure out what that reason is and chase after it with diligence.

Looking forward to a great 2017 with you!