In college, I worked as a personal trainer at a fitness center. Every year around this time, gym memberships spiked and many people signed up for personal training sessions. Everyone was resolving to make their next year better than the last, and wanted to start a new routine for better health.

Unfortunately, many of those people stopped going to the gym after only a couple of weeks. They wanted to make the new year great, but didn’t have a solid plan or strong resolve. I noticed that the people that really stuck with their resolution through the year had a few things in common: They named their resolution, knew the steps they needed to take, and had people to hold them accountable. They also were all much happier at the end of the year.

How is your spiritual health? What if, next year at this time, you looked back and realized that 2015 was your best year yet? The New Year is an exciting time, because it offers us a concrete opportunity to reflect on where we have been and, more importantly, where we are going. As you set your resolutions, here are five things that should be on your list for a spiritually healthy 2015.

  1. Make Confession Monthly. Some of us already are in this great habit, but some of us may only be receiving the sacrament sparingly. Sin destroys our spiritual health. Receiving the Sacrament of Confession monthly restores our health and offers grace to continue growing in holiness. For any person striving for sainthood and desiring an incredible 2015, it is non-negotiable. Get a friend to hold you accountable by going with you each month.
  2. Ditch Fear. This past year I took 61 flights – it was a big deal for me because I am afraid of flying. A couple of years ago, I decided I was done letting this fear hold me back. If you have something you are afraid of, you aren’t free. God did not create you to be crippled by fear, but to be fully alive. Name your fear and make steps to overcome it in 2015.
  3. Get Active. Our physical and spiritual health are tied together – we are soul and body and they affect each other. Resolve to get more physical activity in 2015 – train for a 5K or half-marathon, take a friend with you to the gym, or take a fitness class. If you are physically sluggish, you are probably spiritually sluggish, too.
  4. Read Scripture Daily. We have an incredible gift in Sacred Scripture, have you opened it lately? There are different apps you can use that provide little bits of Sacred Scripture daily, but one of the best ways to get a healthy dose of God’s word is by reading the passages from daily Mass. It only takes five minutes each morning, but is a game-changer for your day. You can find the readings for the day at USCCB.org.
  5. Read a Spiritual Book. There are incredible contemporary Catholic authors and a huge library of writings from the saints to choose from. Pick a spiritual book to read this year (or two or three books). If reading isn’t your thing, pick a shorter book. Spiritual reading helps increase our knowledge of Christ and can be tremendously empowering. Find a book you like and work through it in 2015.

Those five simple things will make 2015 your best year ever. If you are still feeling like you want to go the extra step, consider working with a spiritual director as well. They are like a personal trainer for your spiritual health; they challenge you, hold you accountable, and provide you with ways to continue to grow. Your local diocese will likely have a list of people that serve as spiritual directors.

A year from now, I hope that you are reflecting on your best year ever. You need to make the decision today, though – your spiritual health is way to important to wait on.

Joel Stepanek
Joel Stepanek

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Joel Stepanek has been actively and passionately involved in youth ministry for over 10 years. What began as a simple internship in a parish youth ministry office evolved into an incredible adventure that led him on numerous middle school lock ins, high school retreats, and ultimately to meet his wife, Colleen, who is a campus minister. Joel is the Director of Resource Development for Life Teen International where he creates engaging youth ministry resources for middle and high school students. He received his Master’s degree in religious education with an emphasis in youth and young adult ministry from Fordham University. Joel is an avid Packer fan, loves cooking, running, and spending time with his wife and son, Elijah Daniel.