I love numbers. No, I’m not an accountant or a scientist. In fact, I’m not even that much of a detailed person. I’m referring to the way God uses numbers to communicate with us and how they can have different meaning based on where you are in life. This year being 2018, the number 8 keeps resounding in my heart. It represents new beginning or new life. I don’t believe it’s for just me.
The key to seeing a change in our life is directly connected to our willingness to partner with God and take action. Nothing will change unless we are ready to take the necessary risks required to see change happen.
With this in mind, here’s a list of 18 things you can DO this year which will create an opportunity for you to make it one of the best years of your life. Some will challenge you more than others, but to see a significant change in your life, it requires you going outside your current comfort zone.
1. Say “Yes” to something new.
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of doing what feels within your ability to accomplish. The only problem is, it limits your growth as a person. When you say yes to something you’ve never done before, it requires you to expand beyond what you’ve been comfortable doing. Maybe it’s as simple as going out with a friend to a karaoke bar and singing, or taking a dance class. It can also mean saying yes to leaving your job and “taking the leap” into the unknown.
2. Plan an adventure.
You may be thinking… “If I plan something then it’s not an adventure.” Not true. You can plan on taking a trip you’ve always wanted to but not know exactly what you’ll do when you arrive. For some, the trip itself is the adventure. No matter how excited you are about this year, there will come a time when you’re tired and frustrated. When you have an experience in your sight, it will help pull you through those times and give you something to look forward to.
3. Choose a topic or person to study in the Bible.
My personality is such where I need something to focus on or reading the Word can fall lower on the priority list than it should. When I have a topic or person I’m learning about, an excitement comes with reading because my intentionality is helping me discover new things each time I read. It draws me in like a good movie and I get lost in wanting to learn more. We all know the Bible is God’s living word. It’s the life coming from the Word that creates tangible change in our lives and draws us closer to Him.
4. Read one new book per month.
Full disclosure: I’m not great at this point, and it’s something I’m personally going to work on this year. Don’t let the excuse of not being a good reader stop you from learning. You can listen to books on audio, or maybe you just need a bit of accountability with some friends to help create the habit. Jim Rohn said it better than I ever could… he said “Books are what you step on to take you to a higher shelf. The higher your stack of books, the higher the shelf you can reach. Want to reach higher? Stack some more books under your feet! Reading is what brings us to new knowledge. It opens new doors, helps us understand mysteries, and lets us hear from successful people. Reading is what takes us down the road on our journey. Everything you need for a better future and success has already been written.”
5. Do something that makes your palms sweaty.
If you’ve followed me for more than a week then you know I’m all about taking calculated risks. I’m like this because my personal victories have been directly connected to my willingness to step outside my comfort zone. You can actually use fear as a roadmap for your calling if you’re willing to ‘lean in’ to the fears instead of pulling back. For me, 2018 is the year I’m going to do more live training. That may be webinars, speaking at churches, teaching classes, Facebook lives, etc. I’m nervous but also know it’s something I need to grow in if I want to see several of my dreams become a reality. What’s the thing you’ll face in 2018?
6. Be intentional with relationships that matter.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but you may be surprised how good your year can be when you choose to invest in specific relationships intentionally. This can mean going out of your way to tangibly love a select group of people you feel God is highlighting to you. Do a fun social experiment and don’t tell said people. I’m willing to bet they bring up the impact of your intentionality within a few months and begin returning the love they have been receiving from you.
7. Take a personality test.
Hear me out before you dismiss this as something you’ve already done. Have you taken the time to take 3-4 fundamentally different ones and see the big picture? If you’ve taken them, how long has it been? I’ve taken particular tests once, then again several years later and the results look way different. I was able to see how my initial results were more a representation of my brokenness than how God made me. While getting healed and learning more about my identity, I was then able to retake them and get a more accurate picture of both my strengths and weaknesses. Here’s just a few that I’ve taken and trust.
8. Revisit an old hobby or find a new one.
Sometimes a hobby is actually an underdeveloped passion. The problem is we often “grow up” and stop doing the things we enjoy. In doing so, we slowly bury the very things that help us recharge or even make us come fully alive. Take time to think about what hobbies you enjoyed in the past. Start by taking simple steps to integrate back it into your life.
9. Focus on your communication.
It doesn’t matter what age you are or your profession, communication is something we all do. Intentionality should not just be reserved for public speakers and people in sales. It’s something that literally affects every part of your life. When you focus on improving your communication, you learn how to articulate things in a way people understand. In turn, it strengthens your relationships and creates opportunities.
10. Meet with a Counselor or Life Consultant.
This is becoming less taboo than it used to be, but still not talked about enough in my opinion. It’s sad how many people wait until they’re in a crisis to start meeting with someone. Successful people seek out advice and guidance from people for a reason. Maturity is a willingness to work on things before you’re in crisis mode.
11. Visit a new church.
I’m not recommending you find a new church, but there’s value in exposing yourself to different cultures. Every church has a unique DNA and something to offer. Think about an African American southern baptist church… now think about Joel Osteen’s church. Those are two extremes, but you get my point. There’s value in exposing yourself to different churches. It helps keep you from becoming narrow-minded and religious. 😉
12. Go on a missions trip.
If you want to make this year memorable, then try to get outside your regular 9-5 routine. Not that there’s anything wrong with working 9-5. My point is you need to intentionally expose yourself to how a big chunk of the world lives. It helps put things into perspective. Think about someone who has never traveled more than 50 miles from their home vs. someone who has gone all over the world. In general, the person who has traveled is more well-rounded for a reason. It helps keep you from becoming narrow-minded.
13. Risk being vulnerable.
Not transparent… vulnerable. If you don’t know the difference, take five minutes to read this post. The vulnerability is scary. There’s no way around that reality. It is also one of the fastest ways to find healing and build a healthy community.
14. Create memories with your community.
Memories are something that draws your community close. My wife created several memories with her girlfriends by throwing out the idea to go skinny dipping. That’s right, skinny dipping. I guarantee if you ask any of the friends that went will never forget the time they had. This may be an extreme example, but you get the idea. Think of something other than dinner and a movie to do with the people you’re doing life with.
15. Go after shame.
Shame is the tool the enemy uses to separate us from both God and our true identity. Think about Adam and Eve… when they sinned, the immediate response was to hide in shame. Similarly, we hide who we are meant to be when we experience moments in our life that create shame. Sin isn’t the determining factor. Let me give you an example: As a child, you were curious how things worked so you took apart dads favorite radio. He was furious when he got home and yelled, spanked, grounded, or beat you. As a child, you feel horrible even though you didn’t do anything wrong intentionally. When you go after shame, you begin to peel back the layers that cover up your true self. If you want to learn more, I would highly suggest looking at anything Laura Duncan has to say.
16. Take an online course from someone you respect.
I’m a dad of three small kids. I understand it’s not always practical to meet with someone or read a book. Online courses are a way you can glean from someone you want to learn from or may not have the finances to meet with them one-on-one. It may not be as personal, but it can still be extremely effective.
17. Connect to your heart.
If you’re asking yourself “What does it mean to connect to my heart” then this should be the thing on this list you focus on for 2018. To oversimplify this complicated topic, connecting to your heart is building a connection with the core of who you are. It’s who God made you to be before shame, pain, sin, etc. came into the picture. It’s where your authentic voice is found. The list goes on… let’s just say this is a huge deal. If you want to learn more, I’d highly recommend Christa Black Gifford’s ecourse. (There’s no affiliated relationship. I just believe in what she offers.)
18. Cut back on social media.
This may sound like it has no connection to making 2018 your best year yet, but you may be surprised. Can you stop looking at any kind of social media for a week without getting anxiety? If your answer is no, then it’s time to put down your online life and start living the one that’s right in front of you. I’ve stated before; there’s nothing wrong with social media in moderation. That said, it shouldn’t take priority over you enjoying your life. You may be surprised how much your life can change if you hit the pause button on social media for awhile.
The Challenge: Take time to identify one or two things on this list. Then write out what you plan on doing within that topic this week to start moving towards it. 2018 can be the year you look back on and say, it was a turning point for where you’re at in 5 years. It requires action and intentionality… both of which you’re more than capable of doing! Here’s to the best year of your life.