A fresh chapter or another false start?

By Animate gap year team member Michael

January is usually the time to think about starting something new. Minds are brimming with enthusiasm, ready to tackle the challenges of the year ahead. We make New Year's resolutions, eager to make that 'New You' (or us) count. Naturally we begin brightly, but it can take a couple of months, or even just a few weeks, before good intentions are set aside.

Which begs the question of how we can acquire the right mindset to really achieve these goals, and so go about creating the change we desire within ourselves. I must admit, all too often I am susceptible to starting a new hobby, only to lose interest within weeks. All it takes is the purple glint of Cadbury's packaging and healthy eating goes out of the window!

Research suggests it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit, and around two to three months to make it stick. So how can we build the strong foundations within ourselves to reach our targets, and succeed where so often we fail?

Here at Animate, we begin every working day with a short time of prayer. It is an opportunity to forget the worries of yesterday and start the new day on a solid footing. With these foundations in place, we can ensure that no day is wasted and that we are always the best we can be. Maybe it is something we can incorporate into our home lives too, to give each day a sense of purpose and distinction. Like the palate cleanser for refreshing taste buds between courses at a fine restaurant, we can use prayer to refresh our minds.

Perhaps if we make a little time for prayer, we might be able to see things in a different light. This could be our catalyst to step out of the mundane and become better engaged in everything we do. It is sometimes said that breaking tasks down into smaller parts is the best way to negotiate difficult obstacles. Could this be a method of improving our prayer lives? If we incorporate short prayer breaks into our daily lives, we can make sure God is always with us. Bringing God into our lives whenever and wherever possible is something we should all strive to do, even if it often seems like an inconvenience.

• As we enter 2017, let us keep in mind those who have commenced their own spiritual journey. Spare a thought for those taking part in the RCIA programme, that they may achieve the new beginning they are seeking within the Church. We must welcome these people and provide support as they undertake their journey of faith.

Spare a thought also for young people, that they may be guided towards God. We see all too often young people becoming disillusioned with the Church, and unable to see its importance. It is essential to reach out and inspire them; they are the future after all.

Finally, think of yourself. In what ways can you make the coming year more rewarding than those that have gone before? How can you make the most of what God has given you? Perhaps if we start small, by the end of the year we can look back and notice what a real difference we have made.

Dates for the diary
14 January: Eucharistic ministry training for young people. See website for details.
18 January: Life and Soul+ at St Charles, Aigburth – an evening of adoration and prayer from 7pm.
8 February: Life and Soul+ at Hope University Chapel – from 7pm.
Website: www.animateyouth.org
Facebook: Animate Youth Ministries
Twitter: @animateyouth