Win Today with Christopher Cook

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Is It Really a New Year (Or Just Another Year)?

A new year. A fresh start. A blank canvas. For some, it’s an opportunity embraced with joy and great expectation. For others, embarking upon a new year is absolutely terrifying, as anxiety-filled thoughts of “what might happen (or not happen)” overtake the precious creative space where hope-bathed possibilities of “what could be” are conceived. Because of past disappointment, broken promises and dashed hopes, betrayal in relationships, financial collapse, health trouble, and failed expectations, cynicism threatens to pollute the womb of opportunity, the place where flourishing in life is reduced to merely existing.

On topic, Mother Teresa, widely admired for her charitable contributions around the world, said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Her poignant words are a clarion call to march into this new day unchained by the past, unashamed of the present, and undaunted by the future.

The doorway to the New Year has opened, so ask yourself: will this be a new year or simply another year? Here are three strategies to championing this year with hope, no matter what you have faced in the past.

Reflect

Reflecting on past successes bolsters you with courage to face new challenges and opportunities with a winning attitude, a spirit of commitment to the long haul, and confidence to prepare for even greater personal, professional, and spiritual growth this year. Equally, reflecting upon last year without absorbing regret for missed opportunities and mistakes engenders clarity and insight into what you should be focused upon this year. Most importantly, hindsight reveals the faithfulness of God in your life. As it pertains to difficult past circumstances, please don’t carry the heavy weight of unforgiveness, unresolved pain, betrayal, and disappointment into the New Year—it only leads to cynicism. Cynicism creates a hopeless prison of isolation where you will inevitably cheat yourself out of wonderful new relationships, meaningful opportunities, and new territory. With God’s ever-available grace and strength, deal with it and trust that your current situation is not your final destination.

Refocus

Refocusing begins with gratitude, and I believe that expressing gratitude is an act of focused intention. It’s easy to casually say, “I’m grateful for everything in my life,” but what are those things? Be specific. Carve out 15 minutes today to make a list of as many areas of your life for which you are grateful; things such as the vehicle you drove to work, the gasoline in the vehicle you drove to work, the mobility to operate the vehicle, the career you’re invested into, the health insurance that piggybacks that career, your spouse, your children, your friends and family, the fresh food on your dinner table, clean water, indoor plumbing, electricity, the Internet you’re using to read this article, the ability to eat out at a restaurant…and the list goes on! Simply stated, gratitude provides an opportunity to become actively aware of what you do have in spite of what you don’t have.

A second aspect of refocusing involves awareness of your true identity. Before you ever stepped foot on a job, displayed a talent, developed a skill, engaged in a relationship, or accumulated a single accomplishment, you were valuable and unique simply because God fashioned and formed your being. As such, defining your identity begins with an “I am” statement, not an “I do” statement. Without knowing who you are, your “do” will lack focus and intentionality. Jesus said it best, as recorded in Matthew 5:5 (MSG), “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”

Take stock in who you are aside from your circumstances and don’t get hung up by comparison, pride, insecurity, and the opinions of others. Refocusing involves making the commitment to partner with God to fully mature into the man or woman He has called you to be—to learn, grow, and make measurable strides this year—and to persevere through pain, passivity, and the sting of the past; distractions that will ultimately derail you from hitting the bulls-eye of your purpose.

Renew, Re-sign, & Respond

Whether the past year has been extraordinary or extraordinarily difficult, today is your day to once again renew your commitment to live life to the fullest. While you’re still alive, make sure you live. Even if the unknown intimidates you, don’t resign, re-sign, because a remarkable year is within reach. Take time to dream your 2015. Set goals for every area of your life; write them down, review them often, get clarity on your motivation, and enjoy the journey! As I close, allow me to encourage you with these ancient words of promise:

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19, MSG)

Something brand-new is on your horizon. It is a new year—a new day—and it won’t be just “another” day. Do you believe it? I definitely do.

Together on the journey,

Chris

P.S. If you’re in need of a great goal-setting tool, I cannot recommend Michael Hyatt’s “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever” course enough. It is one of the best investments for personal growth I have ever made. Hurry though, because the open window for registration is closing soon!

Question: What are three goals you desire to achieve this year and why?

Photo Credit: thebmag via Compfight cc

  • Nicole

    Amazing, my friend. Simply amazing. I will be setting goals and spending time in thankfulness this year 🙂

    • Thank you so much! Great things are in store for YOU! So proud!

  • Lyn

    Beautifully Inspiring, Chris.
    A few of my goals:
    1. Being in thankfulness, to God, every day. (One Thousand Gifts – Ann Voskamp)
    2. Extending grace to others and myself.
    3. Living in the pursuit to see others through HIS eyes. ♡♡♡

    • Awesome, Lyn. It’s really important to write your goals down as a means of keeping focus, especially when the monotony of life sets in.

  • I love this Chris! I agree with you that committing to a course, in spite of the $ spent, has been inspiring and motivating. I can’t believe how “full” I am having joined Intentional Blog and TW. I’m pressing into Him and the gifts He’s given me and oh so thankful for the year past. The new year? Well, I hit it running, grateful to the King of kings! May this be the best year ever! Blessings!

    • Thanks, Linda! Keep running your race! Proud of you! Have an incredible year!