How Not To Waste Your 2018

Have you ever had big plans/goals for your day only to have the tumult of life take you in a completely different direction? Or 1,000 different directions? Me too. This is a typical human experience. But changed plans and failed goals waste a ton of precious time. And our time is limited! If you waste an hour, no amount of money can get it back. Time is a non-renewable resource which is a gift of God—to steward well and use for his glory and our joy and the good of all people. At least, that’s the idea…

But how do we steward our time well? How do we live so as not to waste our hours, days, weeks, and years? Is there a way to live with more purpose and effectiveness without losing our sense of freedom and joy in the process? Absolutely yes. Here are 3 steps to make the most of your 2018…

1. Identify your purpose.

Why are you here? This truly is the question. Finding your purpose is the key to unlocking meaning and motivation in your life. It’s the thing that’ll pop you out of bed in the morning and will give you the steam to run the last mile at the end of a long day. You will not waste your time if you identify your purpose.

But the counterintuitive thing about purpose is that, as necessary as it is for you, it can’t really be about you (at least not primarily). The best “reason for being” is having a greater purpose than working only for your health, wealth, or happiness. I believe this is because God created us to love and serve others. Jesus said the two most important things in the world are to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The beautiful thing is there are countless ways to love and serve others. You might be best suited to help people learn or grow, heal or build, reconcile, rest, laugh, love, sing, eat well, hope, connect with God, or something else that contributes to flourishing life.

My purpose is to share good news. I genuinely believe that’s why I’m here. It’s why I preach and write and more. And I don’t have any trouble finding the motivation to do this, in fact, I have a hard time stopping. I love sharing good news and find great fulfillment in helping people understand who God is and what he has done for them. You might find your purpose being a teacher, coach, business professional, parent, pastor, artist, entrepreneur, or community leader. Want to make the most of 2018? (And the years beyond?) Identify your purpose.

2. Write down your priorities.

In light of your purpose, what are the 3-5 most important things for you to focus on, learn about, or accomplish in the next 6-12 months? There are a million things to do every day ranging from the immensely important to the utterly inconsequential. We’ve all been in the middle of a task that already consumed hours or days and realized (hopefully to our horror) that our priorities were dreadfully off. This 24/7 newsfeed world is chaotic; it’s so easy to get distracted by low priority things. My phone dings with the same urgency whether I get a text from my wife or a spam text offering a great deal on mortgage refinancing. I assure you, one is way more important than the other (Holly, of course!).

But different people in different stages and seasons of life have different priorities. A college student finishing a term has entirely different priorities than a mom of preschoolers than an empty-nester preparing for retirement. That’s ok! It wouldn’t make sense any other way. But if you fail to think through your current priorities in light of your purpose, you’ll be consumed by whatever seems most important at the time—not what is indeed the most important thing.

So what are your priorities right now? What are the 3-5 most important things for you to focus on, learn about, or accomplish in the next 6-12 months? Want to make the most of 2018? Write down your priorities.

3. Change your calendar.

This is where most of our dreams die. Why? Because we fail to connect our dreams (purpose/priorities) with our daily life (calendar). John C. Maxwell wrote,

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.

And it’s true! Life is just a series of days. If you’re lucky enough to identify your purpose and take the time to align your purpose with your current priorities, that’s great! But if nothing changes in your schedule, routine, or calendar, then wave goodbye to your potential. Sound harsh? Well, what are the chances that you’ll accidentally accomplish your purpose? Slim to none—intentionality is everything.

It changed in my work life 100% when I started to assign my best work hours proactively to my highest priorities. I realized that I could run my calendar—my calendar doesn’t have to run me! Shouldn’t your best, most productive time be used only for what is most important to accomplish your purpose? I think so. To keep myself on track, I use weekly calendars with blocks of time proactively assigned to my top priorities, and daily checklists of tasks all synced between my computer and phone. All this may sound restricting, but it’s actually been very freeing and joy-producing. It’s helped me say no to the things that don’t really matter. I’ve found clarity and in my life and work which has brought peace as much as it’s brought greater effectiveness. Want to make the most of 2018? Change your calendar.

So, why are you here? I believe God has a great purpose for your life. If you ever hope to accomplish it, you need to write down your priorities, change your calendar, and get to work! I guarantee you’ll have a far more fruitful 2018 than if you just let your life happen by accident.