Will You Live Intentionally in the New Year?

man at starting line of new year

It’s so hard for me to believe that we’re beginning a new year. It seems like such a short time ago that we were transitioning into 2019 and yet here we are. What is even more incredible to me is that it’s not just a new year, we’re entering the 20th year of what still seems, in my mind, a new century.

Yet that is reality. So, a question that comes up for me is how I’m living these years as they fly by so quickly. Am I living intentionally or am I simply letting time pass? Am I living from my vision or allowing events to dictate my experience and what I’m getting out of life?

The Power of Living Intentionally

I want to suggest that living intentionally is a better way to live. Not easier, by the way. In fact, it takes mental focus, emotional discipline, and physical effort to live an intentional life.  But I want to suggest, that it is worth it.

It reminds me of the story of American pilots who were shot down and captured during the Korean War. (I’ve shared this in a past blog.) They were interrogated by the Chinese and North Koreans and placed in one of two types of camps.  One type of camp was minimum-security with relatively nice living conditions.

The second type of camp was maximum-security. The conditions in those camps were more fitting of the stereotypes that we typically have of a concentration camp—barbed wire fencing, guards, dogs, simple barracks, poor nutrition, and no organized recreation.

It was determined that a pilot would be sent to a minimum or maximum-security camp by asking such questions as, “What is your favorite football team?” “What kind of girl do you want to marry?” “What do you plan to do when you’re released from the service?” “What would you like to be doing five years from now?”

Those who had simple, direct answers were put in maximum-security.  Those who waffled or were uncertain were

Veterans of the Korean War

put in minimum-security.  Here’s the incredible fact. The death and disease rates were four times higher in the minimum security than in the maximum-security camps.

This speaks to me of the power of vision, the power of knowing what we want, the power of living intentionally. The clarity of vision of these prisoners didn’t make life easier for them. In fact, it made it harder. But their clarity did mean they had a greater sense of purpose and control over their destinies. They were also far more physically and mentally resilient.

How Clear Are You?

 So, I’m curious about you. How clear are you about your vision of the future? Do you know what you want? Not just long-term but even in the year of 2020?

You might remember an article I wrote last January entitled, “You’re Smarter than You Think.” I proposed that most of us don’t fully utilize our brains because we don’t think deeply about our lives and/or we allow other people to do too much of our thinking.  I laid out a six-step process for pondering the deeper questions of our lives.

Certainly, one such question is, “What is my vision? What do I want?” A more specific form of this question is, “What results do I want to create in 2020?”

Let me encourage you to take some time to ponder how you will live more intentionally in this next year. The answer might be something small and simple or something really big. It might be about engaging in activities such as traveling, learning a new skill, or participating more fully in your church or community. It might be about improving a relationship. It could have to do with improving your finances or upgrading your standard of living. Perhaps it has to do with accomplishing a project or realizing a career goal, or even developing a quality of character such as love and compassion, courage, or patience.

An Exercise to Help You Live Intentionally

Here’s an exercise to help you living intentionally. (Take some time to do this when you can be alone and uninterrupted.) Close your eyes and visualize a picture frame. Allow this frame to begin to fill in with an image of something you want, a vision of what you want to have, experience, or become during 2020. Give it some time to emerge and unfold in your mind.

How clear is the image? What and/or who is in the image? How much detail does it have? As it continues to emerge, allow yourself to connect with it. Feel it. Believe in it. If you have a hard time seeing it now, it will become clearer over time as you stay with the exercise.

Now consider, do you believe your emerging vision is possible?

I’m going to suggest that the answer is “yes.,” You are the author of your life. You hold the paint brush in your hand. By the power of your mind and your ability to imagine outcomes that emerge from deep from within your heart, you have the power to create something meaningful in the year 2020.

The Power of Visualization

boy shooting basketball

I recall an experiment which illustrates the power of the mind. Adolescent boys shot baskets and were rated on their proficiency. They were then divided into three separate groups. The boys in one experimental group practiced shooting basketballs for 20 minutes a day for a month. The boys in a second group didn’t touch a basketball but spent 20 minutes a day visualizing themselves shooting baskets. The third group was a control group which did nothing with a basketball for two weeks.

At the end of two weeks, the boys in all three groups shot baskets, again, to determine their proficiency.  The boys in the control group (that did nothing with a basketball) did not improve—zero percent change from pre to post experiment.  The boys who practiced shooting for 20 minutes a day improved their proficiency by 24 percent.  And the boys who visualized themselves practicing every day improved by 23 percent. (Variations of this experiment have been done many times with similar results.)

This study speaks to the incredible power of our minds to determine the course and outcomes of our lives.  There are many other experiments and examples that illustrate this truth. It is why professional golfers visualize themselves sinking a putt, basketball players see themselves hitting the jump shot, or Olympic skiers picture themselves swooshing the gates of a downhill run. It all begins in the mind.

So, I encourage you to harness the power of your mind as you look forward to a new year. Refuse to simply let this year happen. Make it happen by pondering more deeply what you want and then setting aside the time to visualize it unfold in your life.



  1. Barbara Engel

    Great idea Roger–this is something that I will certainly try–thank you !!

    • Roger Allen

      Thanks, Barbara. I’m glad you’ll give it a try.


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