It’s the end of the year. And that can always bring about mixed feelings. On the one hand we are excited about the new year. All the hopes. All the possibilities. But on the other hand we are secretly anxious, wondering if anything will be better this year than the year before.
But what if this year could be better than last year?
I think it can. For me and for you.
Here are four things you can do to make your 2017 better than your 2016.
#1 Seize Control of Your Finances
What is the number one stressor for Americans? You guessed it… It’s money. More than work, more than our family responsibilities, more than our health and our personal relationships, we stress out about money.
Money has a powerful effect on the human brain. In fact, some neuroeconomists are arguing that money can have the same effects on your brain as cocaine.
If you’ve ever known an addict or if you’ve been an addict yourself, then you know–when you have it, you’re good. When you’re running short, you’re nervous. And when you’re out, you’re desperate.
That’s exactly how so many of us are when it comes to our finances.
What we need is to stop being mastered by our money and start being master of our money.
Jesus once said,
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24).
Money is not a good master. And money was never meant to be your master.
The Bible teaches us that money is a gift that comes from God.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17).
Money is a gift that comes from our generous Father in heaven. And it’s meant to be used to bring glory to His name, not stress and anxiety to our lives.
So if you want your 2017 to be better than your 2016, then start by getting a handle on your finances.
There are several tools that can help you do that. My personal favorite is YNAB, which is an acronym for YOU NEED A BUDGET! This is a tool that teaches you to put your money to work so that your money works for you. It costs $50 a year to use (you can try it for one month for free), but is worth every penny.
If you’re looking for something free to help you, check out mint.com. Or find a church that offers Financial Peace University. Or pick up a copy of Dave Ramsey’s book Total Money Makeover, and start developing the tools you need to get your finances under control in 2017.
#2 Eat Better to Live Better
Let’s face it. We all want to lose the weight. Whether it be five pounds, fifteen pounds, or fifty pounds. It’s gotta go.
So we start the new year off swearing to stick to the latest, greatest diet plan so that we can shed those extra pounds. But let’s be honest. Haven’t we tried this before? Haven’t we tried that many times before?
The reason we don’t stick to our diet plans is because weight loss itself isn’t a big enough win to keep us committed. After all, who wants to lose 15 pounds if it means you have to eat tasteless meals that never fill you up and leave you feeling the hunger pangs all day long? No thanks!
Weight loss can’t be your main goal. It can be a goal. But not the goal.
You’re goal has to be to develop well-balanced, nutritious eating habits. Because when you eat better, you live better. You feel better. You sleep better. Your energy is better. You think better. Everything’s better.
That means eating breakfast every morning. That means eating real food like fruits and vegetables and meat. And that means eating enough food but not more than enough food (this one can be tricky!).
When you develop well-balanced, nutritious eating habits, not only do you feel better, but you also begin to lose the unwanted weight too.
And trust me, I know. I lost 35 pounds in twelve months without following any diet plan and without doing any exercise. And I did it all by developing well-balanced, nutritious eating habits.
To learn more about food and how to eat better to live better, check out books like It Starts With Food or Paleo for Beginners. If you need motivation to change your eating habits, watch documentaries like Forks Over Knives, Food, Inc., or others like it.
Changing your eating habits is not an easy journey, but it is a life changing journey that is worth it every step of the way.
According to the CDC only 20.9% of Americans meet the physical activity guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. Let’s face it. That’s pretty pitiful. Some studies have even shown that there is virtually no difference in the exercise habits of young adults and senior adults.
This is crazy considering all of the benefits of regular exercise such as weight control, improved mood, better energy, higher quality sleep, lower risk for common health problems like high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and more!
If you want your 2017 to be better than your 2016, then you have to be more active.
That doesn’t mean you have to join a CrossFit gym or pay a monthly fee to become a member of a fitness club. It just means you have to be more active. Go for walks after dinner. Run. Play pickup basketball with your friends. Or join a co-ed softball league.
#4 Feed Your Soul
The last thing we need to do to make this year our best year is feed our souls. Human beings are more than chemistry and biology. We are body-soul beings created in the image of the Creator God.
That means we have to take care of more than just our physical selves. We also have to tend to our souls.
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).
As important as it is to develop well-balanced, nutritious eating habits to take care of our physical selves, it is equally important–if not more important!–to develop spiritual disciplines that nourish our souls.
The only way to do that is to regularly read and reflect on God’s word.
Probably the easiest way to consistently read the Bible is to download the Bible App for your iPhone or Android device. More than 250 million people have downloaded the YouVersion Bible App. And there’s good reasons for it’s popularity.
You can sync across all of your devices. You can highlight and book mark your favorite verses. You can read from literally hundreds of different translations. You can even select from hundreds of Bible reading plans and devotionals that range anywhere from a couple of days to an entire year.
You can even set up notifications to remind you to get into the Word every single day. And better yet, if you miss a day (or two or three!) you can simply click “Catch Me Up” to shift the dates and get back on track. It couldn’t be easier.
If you want to take your disciplines to the next level this year, check out my review of Verses, an app that makes memorizing Scripture easier and more fun than ever before. Or pick up a copy of this book by Donald S. Whitney.
Make This Year Your Best Year
A new year is upon us. Let’s make the most of it. Do these four things and let this year be your best year yet!
Question: What are you planning to do to make this year better than last year? Join the conversation clicking here.