Helping Your Students Approach a New Year With Intentionality


By Aaron Wolgamott

It is easy to live our lives more out of reaction to what happens or comes our way. And while that is not necessarily all bad, there are so many things we can’t control in this life that we do have to learn how to react well to, we also need to learn to approach life with intentionality; to have a plan and set goals and learn to be purposeful as much as possible.

Plans and goals don’t always work out the way we want them to, because again there is so much in life that we can’t control. BUT, when we make plans and we set goals and we seek to be purposeful, we are living our lives with intentionality. Doing that gives us focus and purpose, keeps us on track when we might want to get off track, and even helps us better navigate the changes that life brings our way.

Students are in a place where learning to be intentional and purposeful in life is so important. They are in the time of their life when much of what they think is being developed, when their futures are in the process of being mapped out, and when who they are is still being formed. What better time in life to make sure to approach life with intentionality?

This New Year is a prime time to talk about this. The focus for many is on the idea of “new year’s resolutions,” trying new things, and moving forward into what the future holds. The New Year brings this kind of thinking out in our society, and we can take advantage of that to help students approach this New Year—and really their lives—with intentionality.

Here are a few suggestions for how to go about helping your students approach this New Year with intentionality…

  1. Encourage students to pick a word for the year. A word that will give them guidance and focus. For example: CHOICE. Picking a word like this provides a constant reminder that what they do in this life involves choice; who they hang out with, where they go, what they do, how they react, etc. It is also a word that can encourage them to seek to make the right choice in all circumstances.
  1. When a student picks a word, have them choose some key scripture verses/passages to go with their word. This takes their word beyond just a good word; it gives it a spiritual focus and element as well. It helps them focus on God’s Word in their life. For the word CHOICE, some verse ideas could be: Joshua 24:15, Matthew 4:19-20, and Colossians 3:2. The verse doesn’t have to include the word itself, but should encompass the idea of the word. Help students find some verses, but allow the student to pick their verses, as it will also show their specific heart and focus behind the word they have chosen.
  1. Have the student write out a list of goals, dreams, and plans for this coming year. Encourage them to write things that they will be able to accomplish or keep track of fairly easily, as that will give them victories to celebrate. BUT, also encourage them to think big and write some things that will challenge them and require them to trust God in ways they may have not had to before. Also remind them that it’s ok to not accomplish everything, or to allow some of their goals, dreams, and plans to change during the year. Life happens, and we must learn to give ourselves grace as well as be flexible to make adjustments.
  1. Each student should find a friend with whom they can share what they write down. That friend can be someone who continually encourages them throughout the year to stay focused, pray for them, and even help them as they need.
  1. One other idea that some might like and some might not: encourage students to pick a “theme song”—a song that really speaks to the student’s heart, causes the student to worship the Lord, and is a good reminder to the student of their word and focus. Music speaks to us in a powerful way, which is why picking a song can be a good piece to this.

At the end of the year, it would also be very cool to have students share what they accomplished from their list, how their word and verses helped them, and what God taught them. This would be a way to celebrate the past year, and prepare them to look forward to being intentional for the next coming year.

By the way, I’d love to hear other ideas for helping students (and really ourselves as well) to be intentional. Feel free to email me at ( with other ideas you have.