getfit2017The start of a new year is the perfect time for making some commitments about fitness. Need to take off a few pounds? Need to be more frugal in spending and more zealous about saving? Need to do some things to enhance your business and family life? Want to end 2017 with more spiritual muscle?

Making a few changes in your life can really make a big difference in your savings and retirement. As 2016 draws to a close, for example, most financial advisers are telling their clients about a higher contribution limit for 401(k)s that goes into effect for 2017. If you discipline your financial life to add the extra $500 the law permits – that’s $42 per month – it can help your retirement prospects.

Then there are basic suggestions about improving your health most of us think about at the turn of a new year. If cigarettes and alcohol are still part of your lifestyle, save yourself the fiscal, health, and social problems they cause by eliminating both. The same goes with the excessive junk food that tempts us all.

For your life as a leader in your business, this is the time to review last year and to focus for 2017. Does your company have a mission? One that people can recall? Articulate? Maybe this is the time to sharpen your communication.

What about your family? Are you finding yourself making too many apologies for being absent from family events and unavailable to the people you love most? Are you feeling alienated from your children? The start of a new year is a good time to reset priorities with your family. And just sitting down with them to say out loud what you are doing – and to ask their help – may help heal some wounds.

Then don’t forget your spiritual life in framing a fitness plan. I once heard a lady express admiration for a Bible teacher she respected. “I’d give half my life to know the Bible so well!” she gushed. “That’s about what it would take,” a bystander replied. I’m not sure she got the point. Do you?

We’d prefer instant Bible knowledge from a pill or potion. Most of us would pay well for self-control, peace of mind, or power in prayer. But spiritual life is like physical health or fiscal soundness in one critical way: All the positive steps you take, even the smallest ones, make a significant difference over time.

The art of change begins with a plan. Even the things only God can change in us depend on our plan to be open to the work of his Holy Spirit. Pounds, pennies, and prayers — success with all of them begins with a plan.

May you live within God’s daily grace in 2017 and have a Happy New Year.

By Rubel Shelly

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