A new year is upon us! We get to close a chapter of our lives and open a new chapter. That’s the real blessing of celebrating New Year’s…we get a fresh start and a chance to improve our lives. Around this time of year, we begin to make our resolutions. We try to look at our lives objectively, and we try to improve ourselves. Many of us will try to eat healthier, exercise more, or maybe just try to be better people in general. But what about plans for the new year that deal with our soul? What about looking at ourselves objectively as Christians, and trying to improve our relationship with Christ? Why not open a new chapter on our spiritual life?

No matter what we are trying to improve, resolutions shouldn’t be huge, sweeping changes. We’re probably not going to immediately become vegans or exercise like pro-athletes. We should try to make reasonable changes that we can accomplish and that are sustainable. If we drink “like a fish”, we can try to drink only “like a frog” instead. If we smoke “like a chimney”, maybe we can try to only smoke “like a gas grill” instead. If we eat meat every day, maybe we can give up meat a couple days a week…how about Wednesday and Friday! If we pull a muscle when we sneeze, maybe we shouldn’t try to run a marathon…just take a walk a few times a week. Whatever improvements we are trying to make, we should be SMART about it.

SMART is an acronym from strategic planning lingo that reminds us how to achieve our goals. It stands for goals or, in this case, New Year’s resolutions that are

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

We should make New Year’s resolutions for our spiritual lives, and we should be SMART about it as well! All spiritual resolutions for the New Year are Relevant for our salvation and Time-bound by 12 months. But we can’t just say, “I want to be a better Christian this year”. We have to Specific, and pick areas of the spiritual life upon which we would like to improve (ex. - prayer, fasting, attending church, reading the Bible, performing works of mercy/charity, etc.)

Once we specify the area(s) of the spiritual life, we have to be able to measure the goal and know that we can actually achieve it. We can’t just say that we want to “pray more” or “go to Church more”. We have to say something like, “I want to say evening prayers on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday” or “I want to go to Church at least two Sundays a month”. Whatever goals we set, we will never stick to them and achieve them, if they are not specific and realistic.

We have the next few weeks to actually sit down and make a plan. We can close the chapter and open a new one! We can make resolutions in our spiritual life to become better Christians. We should never think that we can’t, or worse, that we don’t have to improve our relationship with Christ! No matter how old we are, we can always be closer to Christ. No matter how set in our ways we have become, we can always grow and learn new things! Don’t compare yourself to who you were last year…compare yourself to the saints! Let’s be SMART about our spiritual lives, and grow together in our new chapter. A blessed, joyous, and healthy New Year to us all!