Years ago I established the habit of doing a big picture review of major areas of my life at the beginning of the new year. Before jumping into setting goals, it’s good to take some time to reflect on the past year. Celebrate the wins. Learn from the missteps. Then set your sights on making improvements in areas that will matter most. Expect the best—prepare for the worst.
If you don’t have such process, here is my list of ten action steps for the New Year for your consideration.
- Review my habits of spending time with God, my spouse, and my children. Relationships require time to stay strong. I’m most intentional about making time with those closest to me. Different seasons may require different amounts for different purposes. Just do whatever it takes.
Plan to keep my “saw sharpened.” Stephen Covey made this analogy well known. The idea is to make sure your take regular breaks to recharge in whatever way works best for you so that you can ultimately be more effective and not just working hard. Take time to consider what keeps you recharged spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Then schedule recurring times as needed throughout the year to stay at your best.
Plan family vacations and special family events. Whatever vacation time you have, take it without apology and use it for making family memories. Lasting memories and family traditions are the things that will matter most at the end of your life. Put time into building these treasures just as you do for your financial planning.
Review my giving and saving habits. Instead of thinking purely about how much I want to make, I think about how much I want to give and save for the future. I want to increase both every year. My best strategy for both is to make sure I give at least 10% for God’s purposes.
Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine. Proverbs 3:9-10 ESV
- Measure my health. The older I get, the more attention I give to my health. It’s good to get a periodic evaluation. It may mean a physical evaluation by a qualified health professional. You might monitor your own blood pressure and get a blood test on your own to measure other things like cholesterol and inflammation levels. Just be proactive. Prevention is better than cure.
Update my financial information list. This is a simple list of all…
- bank accounts
- insurance policies
- safe deposit box
- insurance agents
- financial planner
- location of all important documents.
Keep the list in a place where both you and your spouse know where it is in the case of death or incapacitation. I’ve helped many over the years adjust to life after the loss of a spouse. The shock is enough for loved ones without the unnecessary hassle of trying to sort through financial matters. It’s going to happen someday—be prepared for those you love.
Review my will or trust. Same principle as above. Nobody wants to think about their inevitable end so take a few minutes at the beginning of the year to make sure things are in order. Then live your life to the fullest with the satisfaction of knowing your affairs are in place.
Review my insurance coverage. Make sure you have sufficient simple term insurance to provide for your family in the event you check out while they’re still dependent on you.
Create a video inventory of my home and possessions. If you’ve ever experienced loss of property due to theft, weather damage to your home, fire, etc. you know how difficult in can be to create a detailed list of your possessions from memory for insurance purposes. Grab your smartphone and do a simple walk-through of every room. Video the contents of anything of value. Save the file somewhere safe. Hopefully you won’t need it—but if you do, you’ll be thankful you made the video.
Review my credit report. I don’t really care about my credit score any more because I stopped borrowing. But I do want to make sure my record isn’t sullied by mistakes made by someone else. Under Federal law, you have the right to receive a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. To request your free annual report under that law, go to www.annualcreditreport.com.
There is no perfect list that fits everyone. Use this as a catalyst to create your own list. Just take some steps to make this year better than last and become a better you.
Question: What action steps do you take each year to be better prepared and make the upcoming year better? Share your answer in the comments below.