I probably sound like a broken record saying “2020 was hard for everyone”, but it was, and we are all looking forward to the start of a new year.
The start of a new year is a great time to set goals, evaluate habits, and take steps towards improving your mind and body. You will see countless ‘best-self’ articles pop up in the next few weeks as it relates to becoming the healthiest, happiest, and the most successful version of you.
But what about the holiest you?
We are called to grow in holiness each and every day, but do we ever actually take the time to figure out how we plan to do that? It’s easy to forget our spiritual goals when putting together our annual vision boards or quarterly life plans, but shouldn’t they actually be our number one goal, every year, every quarter, every month, and every day?
But how do we set goals for deepening our relationship with our creator?
Here are 5 simple steps we can take to evaluate where you are and where you want to go in your walk with the Lord. We encourage you to make prioritizing your relationship with God your top resolution for 2021. You won’t regret it!
Step 1: Take stock of where you are today
To get started, we invite you to take some time to reflect on what’s happened in your life over the past year.
Here is a list of questions that can be helpful in kick-starting your reflection:
- What highs did you experience in the last year?
- What lows did you experience?
- Did you try creating any new spiritual habits?
- How often did you pray?
- How often did you read the Bible?
- What steps did you take to grow in love for God and/or those around you?
- When did you embody a spirit of charity to support your church and/or your community?
- When were you challenged most by God?
- Where are the specific moments over the year you saw God guiding you closer to His will, protecting you, leading you closer to Him?
- What do you want to ask God’s forgiveness for?
- Who do you want to apologize to?
- When did your soul feel most at rest?
- What are you most grateful for?
We would encourage you to write your reflections down on a piece of paper or in a journal (writing things down helps you to more deeply reflect and connect with your memories).
Step 2: Decide where you want to go
After reflecting on your spiritual growth over the last year, pray and reflect on where God is calling you to grow with Him this year.
Open your Bible, pray using Lectio Divina, and really listen for what He is telling you. Once you have spent meditating on this, begin to write down what God is asking you to commit to this year.
Here are some ideas that might be relevant:
- Committing to a consistent Bible study (either alone or in communion with others). There are so many Bible Study resources available both for free or at very reasonable costs. You can do these alone or as a group of friends (virtually or in person) for fellowship and communal spiritual growth.
- Committing to daily prayer time. Don’t have a great daily prayer habit, yet? We at Hallow are here to help. Our January community challenge can guide you in progressing from a simple minute meditation to completing a Holy Hour over the course of the month. Come February, we will have tons of amazing content for Lent. We also have over 700 different meditations and prayers for whatever you are going through in your life. If you are already in a good rhythm, consider challenging yourself to grow deeper in prayer by trying some different prayer methods that aren’t already in your routine.
- Commit to weekly/daily mass. Depending on where you live, in-person mass might not be an option, but as things begin to open up (and as you feel ready), begin to make a concerted effort to go back to mass. It has gotten easy to passively enjoy mass in the comfort of our homes, but reignite your love and need for the physical Eucharist. You also could add the goal to regularly attend (or watch a virtual) adoration. There is incredibly healing grace that can come from sitting with the True Presence of Christ on a consistent basis; it really fills your soul.
- Commit to serving others. If you are able, volunteer in your community. Send a card to a family member who has been isolated. Consider supporting the church economically. One aspect of your spiritual goal should involve building the virtue of charity. Jesus calls us to give of ourselves to others in whatever way we can. Maybe this is the year to commit to becoming a Catechist or an usher. It could even be as simple as guiding your family closer to Sanctification through doing acts of service as a family. Listen for God to guide you towards how he wants you to better love your church and your neighbor.
Step 3: Create a plan for how to get there
Having aspirations and goals without a realistic plan for bringing them into reality is a recipe for regret and feeling unfulfilled at the end of the year. For progress to happen, you need to have a plan.
Write out exactly what you will do and when. Purchase any resources you need to make it happen (e.g., a Bible Study course, or physical journal) and schedule the time you want to spend each day in prayer or at church. We highly recommend adding blocks to your personal and work eCalendar. Customized Hallow push notification prayer reminders can help make sure that you don’t forget.
Whatever you do, make a plan and stick to that plan every day.
Step 4: Ask someone to hold you accountable
We were not meant to journey alone, God gave us His Church to support us and lift us up.
Telling someone you are going to do something and forcing yourself to check in with them is one of the easiest ways to hold yourself accountable to your goals.
Whether it is a spouse / significant other, family member, Spiritual director, or friend, having a person who knows your spiritual goals and wants to help you accomplish them will help you when life gets crazy and you want to give up or procrastinate
An accountability partner can also help point out resources that might be helpful for you in your walk with God, such as a book or journal technique. Check in with this person at least once a month and make sure that the check-ins are on your schedule.
Step 5: Set regular check-ins with yourself
Finally, as you check in with your accountability partner you also should set regular (ideally weekly) check-ins with yourself. If you messed up for a day or two, that’s okay, just get right back up and recommit yourself to your goals.
God knows we are not perfect. He just wants us to try to have a relationship with Him. We are all fallen, but with small daily steps, we can grow in Holiness, which is all He desires.
We hope this guide will help you in making your relationship with God your number one resolution this year and we encourage you to check out all of the resources we have in Hallow that can help support you on the journey. Know that we are praying for you.
May God bless you in 2021.