7. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Organize, organize, organize.
“Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40).
Hey! This year, let’s put first things first. Let’s do the most difficult things first instead of last. Let’s get our priorities in order, and let’s put our best efforts into the best things. If we do so, we will get more return on our investment. How many people do you know who can’t get important projects done because they are simply not organized? So, this year, let’s take time and get our proverbial and literal “house in order” so that we can move towards high productivity like a well-oiled machine.
One of the best books that I have ever read and that helped me out a lot when I first became a Christian is a little book titled, Doing It Now, by Edwin C. Bliss. If you do not have a copy of this book, I would encourage you to order a copy from Amazon.com or from your local bookstore. In this book, Bliss skillfully and simply gives us steps to take to overcome procrastination, to organize our lives, and to get things done NOW.
He begins his book by urging readers to create four separate lists to help prioritize and organize their lives. Below are the four lists. Create these lists for yourself and let them help you set goals and priorities for the New Year. Edwin C. Bliss writes:
List all of the things, large and small, that you are putting off in your place of work. The project you meant to begin, the suggestion you were going to make, the misunderstanding between you and your boss that you were going to resolve, the overdue report, the unfiled paperwork, the contacts you meant to follow up, the memo you were going to write. See if you can fill at least an entire page.
Now, make a separate list of tasks you’ve been putting off around your home, the household chores that have been nagging at you for weeks or months or maybe years. Take a tour of your yard, then go through your house room by room, attic to basement, and write down all the things you’ve been meaning to do “when I get the time.”
Now make a third list, consisting of things you are postponing in the field of personal relationships. The letters or phone calls that have existed for so long as “intentions,” the family reunion you’ve wanted to organize, the backpacking trip you’ve meant to take with your kids, the neighbor you’ve intended to get acquainted with, the phone call you should make to your Aunt Mary, the school friendship you’d like to renew, the community action project you’ve been waiting for someone else to initiate.
And finally, make a list of the things you’ve been meaning to do for yourself some day. The art class you’ve wanted to take, the vacation you’ve postponed for too long, the bad habit you know you should extinguish, the exercise program you’ve intended to start, the language you’d like to learn.
8. Prepare for detours.
How many people start the year out with great intentions, goals, and even vision, but get permanently side-tracked before February rolls around? A lot of times, the reason for that is because they didn’t plan for the obstacles, difficulties, and problems that they would have to overcome to succeed.
If you didn’t know, now you know. Plan to make some detours in the New Year around and/or through some persecution, problems, and people so that you can stay on track and reach your goals.
Notice the following on this matter of trouble:
“Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
“And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Psalm 50:15).
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Missionary, speaker, and writer, Elisabeth Elliot says: “The will of God is never exactly what you expect it to be. It may seem to be much worse, but in the end it’s going to be a lot better and a lot bigger.”
Each year comes with its own unique set of difficulties, challenges and distractions. And let me just give you a heads up: there are some things that are going to happen in this New Year that are going to shock you, amaze you, and surprise you. Instead of trying to avoid them, accept the fact that they are coming, and prepare now to meet them head-on.
If the New Year is a great year for you, don’t forget to give God the glory! Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said: “Hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Remember to forget the things which are past and push forward into the New Year, confident of your salvation in Jesus Christ, the gifts that He has given you, and the goals He wants you to pursue.