Jumping Into 2024

I’ve never jumped off the high dive. I’m kind of ashamed to admit that. I’ve jumped off the low dive and the medium dive, but never the high dive. I don’t quite know why, because I’m a decent swimmer and I actually like taking risks. But when I’m up there looking down, I freeze.  Could be related to a couple run-ins with water as a kid, or just to my lack of experience with diving. But either way, that’s still a scary thought to me.

Moving into the new year might give you similar feelings. If so, I’ve got some unfortunate news for you: You can’t climb back down the ladder. The new year is here, and you’re jumping in whether you like it or not.

So you might as well make this a win, right?

How do you move into a new year gaining ground? Turns out, there are a few simple, proven practices that can help you move into any new season, cross any demarcation line, and keep moving forward to take new territory.

1. You Gotta GRIEVE

If you’re a forward thinking person then you might not gravitate toward the idea of grieving. Feels so…yesterday. But you can’t move forward if you can’t move on.

I used to associate grieving only with the loss of a loved one. But after decades of experience in parenting, leadership, marriage, business and life, I’m coming to realize that grieving is a healthy part of every day and every season. As they say, life is change, change is loss, and loss is pain. Grief is technically a response to loss, but a healthy grieving practice can be so much more. It can be a rhythm of renewal that helps you move past pain and into progress.

Psychology tells us that there are five stages to grief: (1) Denial, (2) Anger, (3) Bargaining, (4) Depression, and (5) Acceptance.

OK, OK – I know you’re thinking this is a major downer of a new year’s post, but stick with me for a sec. The big question here is, do you want to take baggage from this past year into your new year? How do you want to show up? Enslaved or free? Stuck or powerful?

Even the great biblical leader Joshua had to move through this process to get where God wanted him to go — and where God wanted him to lead His people. As you might know, Joshua had the distinct privilege of being mentored by Moses. Can you imagine that? The man who saw God face to face being your personal tutor? The one who held out the rod and parted the Red Sea; who negotiated the ten plagues of Egypt; who led the construction of the first house of worship, brought down the Ten Commandments from the mountain, and could turn sticks into snakes? That would be amazing.

Now imagine losing him. That would be an easy place for any of us to get stuck. But Joshua didn’t, because the Lord had other plans. In Joshua 1:2 God said to Joshua, Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them (NLT).

The time has come for YOU to….

What do you need to memorialize so that you can move on?

  •  What losses?
  •  What victories?
  •  What struggles?
  •  What unachieved goals or dreams?

You can’t move forward if you can’t move on.

2. You Gotta GROW

If the new year isn’t more challenging than the old year, you’re doing it wrong.

Every time you climb, something more is required of you. That’s why you gotta grow to take new territory. At the next level you’ll need a better handle on finances, relationships, leadership, work ethic, spiritual vitality, physical health, emotional and mental stability, personal discipline, and more.

I know, that paragraph might make you a little tired! But there’s a great future out there calling to you, and you CAN go get it.  

Just yesterday I was at my Men’s Alliance group. It’s a men’s group devoted to sharpening one another, and the setting is outdoors (yes, even in the winter) at 7am on Saturday mornings at my church. Why outdoors? Because we build a fire, work out, and spend time interacting with Scripture together. It’s incredible. But it’s also hard. The first time I had to pick up two 65-pound weights and walk them across the parking lot and back, one in each hand, I thought my fingers were literally going to snap off! But after a few weeks of this, I noticed that it got easier.

I love the quote by Jim Rohn – don’t set a goal just to achieve it; set a goal for what it will make of you to achieve it.” There’s a big difference between those two reasons. One is about comparison. The other is about expansion.  

I think Joshua understood this. He wanted to be used by God, and in order to do that he needed to grow to become usable. God told him, “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do” (‭Joshua‬ ‭1‬:‭8‬ ‭NLT‬‬).

What about you?

What’s your goal for the new year? More importantly, who do you need to become in order to achieve that goal? And what do you need to do in order to become that person this year?

Take just a minute to think this through before continuing: How do you want to grow this year? Is there a new skill you want to learn? Is there a new character trait you want to develop? Is there a new practice you need to implement?

  • How will you do that?
  • When will you start?
  • Who will you tell? 

If you’ll put even a little effort toward this, and stick with it, by the end of the next year you’ll have the joy of looking back to see that, yes, you will have achieved some things. But even more glorious, you will have grown as a person. 

3. You Gotta GO 

Remember the high dive?

It’s one of the places in life where I just stand there, hoping for an angel from heaven to come rescue me like you read about in the Bible. But that has never happened to me!

Could it be that God Himself has put you exactly where and when you are because His plan involves you taking action to set in motion a chain of events that will fulfill His purpose?

I’ll bet you already know what God wants you to do.

It’s scary, right?

What would stop you from doing it?

Fear?

Maybe your fear is just an illusion. That was definitely the case with Joshua. You can’t count on rumors – you have to go to the source and find out what’s really going on. Joshua sent spies to scope out enemy territory, the place God had set aside for His special people. Legends of giants, problems, and obstacles were flowing through the grapevine. But then they got the truth from someone who lived there, and they came back with this report: “‘The Lord has given us the whole land,’ they said, ‘for all the people in the land are terrified of us’” (‭‭Joshua‬ ‭2‬:‭24‬ ‭NLT‬‬). 

Relieved, they knew they could go into the land and succeed.

But as Mike Tyson said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Your commitment to GO has to be more than just a plan. When the Israelites started heading toward their Promised Land, they once again encountered a water obstacle. Joshua 3:15-16 says, It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho” (NLT).

What a way to test their commitment! The priests had to go first, carrying the Ark of God, and they had to start crossing a flooded river before God would intervene and make a way.  And He did. And millions of people entered their destiny that day as a result.

Isn’t that odd? My logic would say, “when it’s safe to cross the river, we’ll cross the river.” God’s logic says, “when you start crossing the river, I’ll make a way for you to safely cross the river.” 

There’s no getting around the fact that God uses those who are willing to act even when they don’t have all the answers.

How about you? Is there something God has shown you about your future? Is there a step you know you need to take, but you haven’t yet? What’s holding you back? There’s a good chance that if you’ll put some thought, reflection and prayer into that question, you’ll realize that your answer is “nothing is holding me back.”

A new year awaits. It’s time to go. It’s time to take new territory.

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This article originally appeared on GabeKolstad.com and is reposted here by permission.