Setting Spiritual Goals
Setting Spiritual Goals for the New Year
A new year, a new beginning! Are you going to make any New Year’s resolutions this year? Do you like to make resolutions or set goals for yourself regarding your spiritual life-either at the beginning of a new year or at any time during the year? You do not need to wait until a new year to set goals. However, the start of a new year is a perfect time to reflect on the previous year and make some decisions for the new year. Setting spiritual goals for the new year can help you to continue to grow in your faith. Here are some steps to help you do that.
Evaluate the past year.
To help us know where to go next, it is helpful to look at where we have been.
Take some time to think or write about how your spiritual life has been this past year.
Have you prayed as much as you wanted to? Did you go to Mass each week or more often? Did you read the Bible or spiritual books to help you grow in your faith? Did you share your faith with others-by your actions and/or by your words?
The purpose of this evaluation is not to feel great about what you have done or feel sad that you did not do all you wanted to do. The purpose is simply to look at your faith life over the past year to see how it has been.
Decide what you want.
Looking at your evaluation from the last year, decide what you did and did not like. Did you like going to Mass more often? Do you wish you would have read the Bible more? Do you want to try different types of prayer this year?
Think about the spiritual practices that you did last year that helped you grow in your faith.
Think of what helped you grow in faith: What you want to continue doing this year that you did last year?
Think of things that you did not like: What you want to decrease or not continue doing this year?
Think of ways you want to continue to grow in faith: What do you want to try this year?
Pray and ask God to guide and help you as you evaluate the past year and plan how to grow spiritually in the next year.
God is the ultimate spiritual director. Ask Him to guide and help you to grow closer to Him.
Give yourself time to listen to God. Pray for a few days or even a week or more. You can still begin the spiritual practices you are thinking of, but always be open to God and His guidance now as well as throughout the year.
The spiritual practices you begin now may change as the year progresses. Be flexible and be open to God’s leading.
Make a plan.
After looking at your evaluation of the previous year and praying about what to do this year, make a plan.
Do you want to read the bible each day or each week?
Is there a saint you want to learn more about or read what he or she wrote?
Do you want to pray more or try different types of prayers than what you already pray?
Do you want to go to Mass or Confession more often?
Decide what you want to do and how often you want to do it.
For example, if you want to pray more often, you may want to add a Morning Offering to your day, pray The Rosary, pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, or pray one or parts of the Liturgy of the Hours. I’ll stop there. I don’t want to throw too many different ideas at you! Start small. Pick one prayer or one time of day when you will pray and start there.
If you want to dive into this topic more, How to Pray More Every Day has some tips for you.
The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: How to Practice the Sacred Heart Devotion by Fr. John Croiset , SJ. is about the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as Jesus told St. Mary Margret herself. Fr. Croiset was St. Mary Margaret’s spiritual director, so he knows very well about Jesus’ teachings to her about His Sacred Heart.
Good Catholic Books to Read: Improve Your Prayer Life has resources to help you grow in your prayer life.
Perhaps you want to read the Bible more often. Decide how often you will read and for how long. You may want to read one chapter a day or read for 15 minutes a day.
Create A Simple Catholic Bible Reading Plan and A Bible Reading Plan for Beginners- 3 Different Ways You Can Read the Bible in Just 15 Minutes a Day have ideas to help you get started reading the Bible.
Plan to reevaluate every few months.
Life happens. Things we do not expect can completely derail or alter our new plans. Don’t worry. Trust in G0d to help you navigate through changes to your plans. Keep in mind that the plans you make at the beginning of the year may look completely different than what they are at the end of the year.
It is good to plan time every so often to evaluate how things are going.
You can take time to reevaluate every month, every few months, or when something happens in your life that turns your plans upside down. Write a note on your calendar or set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget.
Taking the time to evaluate how things are going is very helpful. It is good to look at what is working, what is not working, and see what changes you need to make. Go through the above steps of evaluate, decide, pray, and plan once again if that is helpful.
Remember that as our life changes, it gives us new opportunities to grow in faith and grow closer to God. While you might be frustrated at first if events in life interrupt your prayer plans, try to be flexible and find new ways to implement your plans or decide what new plans you need to make instead.
Keep working on it.
Life is not static-it does not stay exactly the same every single day of our lives. Keep working to grow in your faith and do not give up. If all you are able to do is to pray a Morning Offering each day and go to Mass each week, keep doing that.
When you are doing what you can at this time in your life, don’t give up because you think you are not doing enough. As you are able, add more prayer or spiritual reading to your life a bit at a time as you continue to grow closer to God.
Don’t give up or despair. God knows your heart and He knows you want to be closer to Him. He will help you. Keep working on your faith life.
Setting Spiritual Goals for the New Year
Setting spiritual goals for the new year can be a great opportunity to evaluate how your faith life is and how you want to improve it. Pray and ask God to help you and then make a plan. Be sure to evaluate your plan every so often during the year since things happen in life that we do not expect! Make adjustments as necessary and do not give up!
God wants us to draw closer to Him. He will help us to do so.