I love a new year. A clean slate to start fresh. Time to turn over a new leaf, focus on goals, and see dreams come to pass.
I run into a new year with enthusiasm, thinking this will be the year that I will get everything right. However, most years nothing ever really changed. I would wonder where the months had gone. I couldn’t believe I didn’t make any progress towards my goals. Everything appeared to be the same way one year prior.
But 2018 was different. In 2018, rather than making New Years resolutions, I started new daily habits which made all the difference. In 2018 I saw my writing goals accomplished, my spiritual walk improved, and my life in general seemed more joyful.
One of the daily habits that I started to do consistently in 2018 had to do with journaling. When I was young, my journals consisted of complaining and ranting. This obviously made journaling a negative experience. And in the end, I would never keep up with it. But now when journaling, I only focus on positive things.
There are three aspects of journaling that I focused on in 2018: Gratitude, Goals, and Reflection.
Gratitude: One aspect of my journaling each night always consisted of gratitude. Every night I would write down at least five things I was thankful for. This always brought contentment to my life. Even when I had a bad day, I could find good things that happened during that day. This also helps us to see God’s love overflowing in our lives. We see all the blessings He bestows upon us each day.
Goals: Also when journaling I would write down my goals. These goals often had to do with my spiritual life. For example, I might write something like “Draw closer to God.” This helped me keep my priorities in the forefront of my mind and make better decisions. For example, if drawing closer to God was a goal for me, then I would get up early to read my Bible, even though I would prefer sleeping in.
Reflection: At the end of each day, I would ask myself: “What did I learn today?” Again, for me, this had to do with my spiritual or emotional life. I might have written down an answer something like, “Some people might not understand and might disagree with your decisions, but in the end, you cannot allow other people’s opinions to alter your path.” This time of reflection brought a bit of perspective to my day, as well as to any difficult situations I was dealing with.
Now as I look back on 2018, I can see how it was one of the best years yet. I stayed focused on my goals, published two books, and overall had a fulfilling year. I plan on continuing my journaling time in 2019. As seasons of life change, some of the aspects of our journaling might change. I think it is important to keep gratitude as a daily practice. As Christians I believe our journaling time should focus on the Lord and our spiritual walk. Writing down our prayers and things we learn through the Word are also great ways to capitalize on our journaling time. Perhaps you will consider incorporating some of these ideas in your 2019 daily habits? Either way, I am praying that each of you find blessings and growth in 2019!
Happy New Year!
Bridget, I love the idea of asking at the close of day, “What did I learn today?” I always begin each day asking myself, “What am I going to trade this day of my life for?” That question keeps me focused on doing what’s important throughout the day. I don’t want to trade my life for things that don’t matter. I’m going to add your end-of-day question to my daily soul-inventory routine. It’s important to treat each day as a lesson learned. Thanks for those priceless thoughts! —Jim Denney
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Thank you for commenting, Jim. And I love the question you ask each morning. Too often many of us allow trivial things to steal our time and our peace. I am going to write that one down as a reminder throughout the day. Thanks for sharing!
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