The last week of the year is my favorite week of the year. Between Christmas and New Year I hit the reset button and re-calibrate my life. During this time, I leverage eight practices that help me wrap up one year and start the new year right.
The first practice is to slow my pace. The holidays can be hectic, not to mention the pace of life itself. Once Christmas is over, Karen and I intentionally slow the pace of our lives. We rest. We don’t load up the calendar with lots of activities. It’s a time to mentally, emotionally and physically slow down. This week offers flex and spontaneity. This slowed pace creates a greater sense of peace, and it clears my mind to better leverage the other seven practices.
The second practice is to recharge relationally. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are always spent with our families. We protect this time, and we consider it a relational tradition. The day after Christmas, we don’t go anywhere. It’s unrushed, unplanned, un-everything. In general, the week after Christmas is relationally refreshing. A few years ago we went to Disneyland, but most years we just enjoy time together at home and around the city.
It’s easy for leaders to get so focused on where they’re going that they never stop to express thanks for where they’ve been. I like to create a “gratitude list” during the last week of the year. It’s an opportunity to celebrate wins, and to rejoice in God’s goodness for what He has done throughout the year. My gratitude list includes a variety of things…God’s faithfulness, provision, moments of celebration, wins, goals reached, etc. (a big “rejoicing” moment a couple years ago was when I survived my heart and pulmonary failure).
Next, I like to set aside time for spiritual and mental renewal. I’ll spend extra time in Scripture and prayer, and let my soul be refreshed. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” To “seek first” is to make a single-minded priority—a first and foremost habit—to pursue a life fully submitted to Christ’s rule and authority, and to conform to Christ’s standard of character and holiness. When this happens, God provides the things that He knows we need.
I also use the “renew” practice to read a book or two that challenges my thinking and refreshes my soul. Over the years I’ve read books like Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul by Lance Witt, Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown and Addicted to Busy by Brady Boyd. These books offer wisdom to stay in the game, remain spiritually and emotionally fit, and focus on the most important issues.