For 2018: To Start Well, Make a Stop Doing List

If Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, the week before the new year is the most dishonest. It’s when resolutions are made, most with the conviction of a wet noodle in a windstorm. Gym memberships go up, gyms fill up (at least through the first two weeks of January), and all sorts of plans are made up.

Instead of making a bunch of resolutions you find either too ambitious to achieve or that you don’t really plan to keep, here’s an idea that might help.

Don’t make a list of resolutions. But do make a “stop doing” list.

What are some daily habits or regular practices you need to quit in 2018? Sometimes it’s easier to stop something than to start. For instance, I’m a notorious key-loser. I’m clinically diagnosed with ADD, after all! But last summer I stopped randomly putting my keys different places with one little thought: “When I walk in the door, I will hang my keys on the key hook by the door.” I have literally not lost my keys one single time since. I stopped choosing random and followed a plan. That likely saved me about 8-10 hours of stress looking for my keys.

What might you stop doing as a pattern in 2018? Here are some ideas:

  1. Social media and the Internet: These are great tools for life, but they can add stress as we compare ourselves to others online or develop the immature habit of knee jerk reacting to things that bug us. Some ideas: (1) Stop looking at your phone first thing in the morning. Spend time in the Word, pray, workout, do something else. (2) Stop push notifications; instead, limit how many checks a day for twitter, facebook, instagram, etc. You can be actively engaged in social media without living on your phone. (NOTE: Read 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Reinke if this is a problem). (3) Stop immediately responding online. Before you post any kind of reaction to anything you see online, wait 10 minutes. This is the social media equivalent to waiting 24 hours before a major purchase. (4) If necessary, take one day a week and stop social media totally.
  2. Spiritual Growth: Stop randomizing your walk with God. Get a plan. Stop flying by the seat of your pants spiritually and develop good spiritual habits, like a devotional plan. Think about where you might be spiritually if you stop “just having a quiet time” and instead study the Gospels to learn how Jesus related to people (for instance) so you can know him better and relate to others like he did. Is there something specific in the mornings that keeps you from a consistent time with the Lord? Stop it, whatever it is.
  3. Health and Fitness: Instead of trying to become the poster child at (I don’t think that’s a real site), what is ONE thing you can stop doing that trainwrecks your health? Perhaps stop buying that one snack you eat too much (you are an adult, right?). You don’t have to join a gym, lift a small house, or eat kale sandwiches. Just stop one bad eating habit and stop one thing that keeps you from exercising, like waiting to the end of the day to do so. Studies show you are far more likely to work out consistently if you do so in the morning. Can’t join a gym? Go to and try some of their free, body weight only exercises. If you simply do enough to work up a decent sweat five days a week you are on your way.
  4. Your Personal Witness: Think about this–what is the primary reason that keeps you from sharing Jesus consistently? Take the rest of this year (you have 3 days, right?) to ponder this. And then, stop that one thing. If it’s fear of knowing what to say to people, stop doing nothing about it and get some help (I know this guy who wrote a book called Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out that might help). If it’s the fact that you just don’t have many opportunities, think of one activity a week you can stop, and replace that with time to talk to people. I had to do that a few years ago. I had to stop meeting with students as much (although I love my students!) so I could have time to develop friendships with people who don’t know Christ. Perhaps you are so busy doing church stuff in the church building (I’m looking at you, pastor) you don’t have time to do some outreach. Stop one thing. The church will not cease to exist.
  5. Priorities: All this leads me to the last one. Covey was right–you don’t prioritize your schedule, you schedule your priorities. Stop, please stop, just facing life without a plan. A few years ago I stopped living this way and developed the habit of regularly (though not always) taking a little time on Sunday evenings or Monday mornings to assess the upcoming week, and to make sure the calendar I actually lived was consistent with the priorities I have. I’ve certainly not been perfect, but I’ve learned doing this cuts out a ton of wasted time, decreases stress, and helps me reflect better. I’m actually making some changes in 2018 based on a far-too-hectic-late 2017, so I’m still learning and growing here myself.

What do you need to stop? I could have also listed some darker things, like a besetting sin, unhealthy relationship, or foolish habit. But you get the idea. Stop some things to see what you can do for the glory of God.

Want a Stronger 2012? Start NOW

It is coming.

It is near.


January 1.

The time of we lie more to ourselves than any other time of the year.   You know, those New Year Resolutions.

I like to set goals. I like a new challenge, so I always enjoy the turning of the calendar and the beginning of a new year. Like you no doubt, I have set my share of resolutions only to cave in and fail.

I want to give some simple, practical advice about starting the New Year better. It is the advice I am following as well.

But first a vital disclaimer: if you follow Christ, you are already accepted by Him. You don’t need to be better in 2012 to earn His favor, or to impress others or yourself. But, as Paul in Phil 3:1-13 made clear how the gospel changed everything in his life, including his ambition, he then wanted even more to “press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (v 14).  So, it is normal and expected to want to be more effective, have more character, and make a greater impact for the gospel. But our motive for doing so is to bring glory to God, not to fill some void in our life Christ has already more than satisfied.

Therefore, I want to know the Scriptures more. I want to be healthier. I want to reach more for Christ, mentor better, and more than that, be a better man to my wife and dad to my children. And I am guessing you do as well.  So how do we do that?

Here is the simple advice. Start now. Not on January 1. And not as some are on January 2–starting the year with a day off is hardly a good beginning, after all.   Here is my process, with a few tweets thrown in for encouragement:

First, the Scriptures. Over 20 times in my adult life I have read the whole Bible in a year. I have found this to be helpful to me as a Christ follower and as a professor. It has given me a greater affection for my Lord and a greater appreciation for the centrality of the gospel in all the Bible, as this recent tweet testifies

@PastorTullian: The Bible tells one story & points to one figure: The whole OT predicts God’s Rescuer, the whole NT presents God’s Rescuer.”

This year I did not read the Bible in its entirety and wanted to do so in 2012, so I started my one-year reading plan—last week. I am already over a week ahead. I am using the Read the Bible for Life plan you can see here.  This way if I miss a day here or there, as I know I will, I will not fall behind, but will still be ahead!

In other words, I prefer setting myself up for success not failure.

Next, exercise.  I am committed to doing P90X2 for 90 days beginning January 1. I have a couple of groups going for accountability, so if you want to do some form of rigorous exercise for 90 days beginning January 1 email me at

I officially start January 1. But I already started, sort of.  I got the P90X2 package a week ago. I have started working through the exercises, not all the way through them, but to get acquainted. I have an artificial hip and have to modify some, so I am already working on that. This workout is very different, very brutal, and I love it already!  If you are not in really good shape or able to check your ego and modify, stay away from this beast.  But find some form of consistent workout and do two things: 1) get someone to hold you accountable. I am a coach for the social media site run by the P90X folks here, so join up for free and let me coach you. And 2) start NOW.

If you plan to exercise and/or diet (you should do both) with more diligence in 2012, by no means should you start in January. Start now.  You can enjoy your family and all that food, but begin now teaching yourself that gorging is not to be confused with being godly. Get some confidence and momentum. Pick a plan (I will be reviewing P90, P90X, and P90X2 shortly) and start early.

Here is another practical tip that has been revolutionary for me: if you have a smartphone, get a calorie counting app .  I use It allows you to have friends and hold each other accountable. Note this tweet from my friend Matt:

“@mhenslee Matt Henslee  Getting healthy a goal in 2012? Join @dwpoyner@alvinreid, and myself over at I’ve lost just a hair under 130 pounds.”

There are other examples of starting early, such as my efforts on a new book already begun ahead of schedule, and more importantly, a couple of major trips planned with my wife to have time with her.

Want to read more in 2012? Read that first book in 2011. Want to be more of an encourager? Intentionally encourage someone daily, and start today.

My pastor recently tweeted:
 David Sims The largest “nation” on the Earth – procrastination!”

Don’t set yourself up for failure by procrastinating the start of the new year. Start now. Get ahead. Gain momentum. Be the change you seek.

And take a few others with you.