rebelling against low expectations

4 Things Teens Must Do to Rock the New Year


Whew! We’ve made it! It’s the beginning of a fresh and exciting NEW YEAR!

If you’re like me, January feels like a beautifully clean slate God graciously gives us every year.

Imagine if we were stuck in one drawn-out never-ending mistake-riddled year? Ugh. Just the thought of it is dampening my new year vibe.

Praise God! We’ve been given a chance to reboot and start afresh!

Yet, sometimes the new year can feel pretty daunting, too. I mean, there’s 365 days stretched out in front of us and sometimes the last 365 days didn’t go so well.

Last year was a wonderful year for me. I look back amazed at how God maneuvered some experiences and circumstances to make it a great year.

I also wasted a lot of time on Netflix, last year, and neglected some of my most treasured goals, such as writing and reading. That’s not so great. Maybe you did something similar and neglected–maybe even down-right forsook–some important goals half-way through the year.

This is pretty normal, so don’t start condemning yourself as a failure. Fact is, you’re not. Twenty-seventeen was still a good year for me, despite some major failures. I did get some good writing and reading done and I had many life-changing experiences to boot.

Nevertheless, the wasted opportunities left me feeling less confident, more uncertain, and often more confused than before. You might not watch Netflix much, but I’m sure you can identify with missed opportunities or abandoned goals.

As with every year, I want to do even better in 2018. So I’ve made a plan to help me rock the new year like a pro. Maybe you should join me?

Here’s the plan.

1. Explore a vision

We like to make a big hullabaloo over having our lives figured out by the time we’re seventeen and can start applying for colleges and pursuing careers.

In truth, most adults barely even know what they want to do with their lives, let alone those of us who are just entering adulthood (for the first time, I might add!).

There’s nothing wrong with writing down five-, ten-, or twenty-year visions, but there’s no need to get discouraged if we just simply don’t know. Sometimes the reason we don’t know is because we haven’t found the opportunities right before us.

If you’re a teen who loves God, you don’t need a ten year plan to honor Him in 2018. You just need a vision to start exploring.

For example, I started a blog when I was thirteen because I enjoyed writing and thinking and wanted some place to express those areas of interest. My friend Andrew and his buddies were skilled guitarists and musicians, so with a couple of gig opportunities in front of them, they started a band. Zach didn’t know he wanted to become a Bible translator until his family moved to Thailand and he fell in love with language learning and foreign missions.

So here’s your first step to rocking the new year: Write down one or two words that express what you’d like to do with your life this year. I put down “Writing.”

(What did you put down? Let me know in the comments below!)

2. Find support

Have you ever heard of Paul Allen or Steve Wozniak?

Maybe, but their names probably aren’t as familiar as their respective business partners: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Without Allen, there’d likely be no billionaire Gates or Microsoft; without Wozniak, there’d likely be no revolutionizing Jobs or Apple.

We like to focus on individual heroes and call them “self-made” but that’s just not reality.

Here’s something you can count on: No one ever accomplished great things alone. You just won’t find it.

Great accomplishments happen with teams. God himself has “partnered” with us to spread the Gospel (1 Corinthians 3:9) and He put us all on a team called the Church. If God doesn’t want to “go it alone” in spreading His glory, then we would be fools to try to accomplish our visions by ourselves.

Find people who support you and ask them to journey with you in pursuing your vision. It could be a large group like your church or the community here on The Rebelution or it could be a small, tight-knit group of friends–either way, you need support or else there will be no one there to help you when things get tough.

3. Do one scary thing related to your vision this year

Anything worth doing is going to involve risk. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs both risked time, money, and reputation on their endeavors, but they changed the world. Thomas Edison failed hundreds of times before he invented the light bulb.

Your risk might be playing a song you wrote for your parents or it may be submitting an article to The Rebelution for the first time (I promise we’re not too scary!) or it may be applying for a job you’ve been waiting on for years.

Either way, there’s always a risk you might get rejected or someone might not like what you made for them or whatever. This can be terrifying, but in the end, I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Obviously, it should be something that glorifies God and isn’t foolish (like jumping out of a aeroplane without a parachute). I would recommend doing something related to your vision. If you’re wanting to write, submit an article. If you’re wanting to work in a certain field, apply for a job that might get your foot in the door. This will help clarify whether or not you really want to pursue that vision.

No matter the outcome, the greatest fulfillment often comes with the greatest risk.

How fulfilled do you want your life to be in twenty-eighteen? Take a risk.

4. Celebrate!

Once you’ve explored your vision and conquered your fear, it’s time to party. And I don’t mean that flippantly. I mean that very seriously. One of the greatest reasons we don’t accomplish our goals is because we don’t set clear rewards for ourselves in advance. As a result, we drag things out and lose motivation.

When I’m done writing this article, I’m gonna go make some coffee and spend an hour doing something I really enjoy doing. Why? Because I’ve just accomplished one of my primary tasks for this week (writing this article)!

Rock the New Year

There’s no perfect formula for having a perfect year. If there was, we wouldn’t have five-thousand articles filling our news feed about “How to Have the Perfect Year.”

There’s no formula to it, but there are some key things we can do to pursue growth in 2018. Exploring a vision, forming a support team, committing to doing one hard thing related to your vision, and celebrating your accomplishments are a couple of major steps to rocking your next year.

No, it won’t be perfect. Yes, you might fail a few times; but you’ll find yourself, this time next year, more confident, less afraid, and with more direction than ever before.

So are you in? If so, I’d love to hear what your plans are.

What’s the one or two words you wrote down as a vision for this year?

Share it in the comments and let’s start cranking out the reasons to celebrate.

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About the author

Christopher Witmer

is the 24-year-old Editor-in-Chief for Originally from Northern Minnesota, he lives with his family in Los Angeles where they moved to plant inner-city churches. He loves sports, travel, and music, but his passion is writing for God and lifting high the name of Jesus through his writing.


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  • Hey guys! Like I said in the post, this year my three words are Writing, Writing, Writing. Not only here on TheReb, but on my personal site, and on a book I am writing for young guys.

    But writing isn’t the only goal you can have. What are your one-three (or more) words for this year?

      • This is awesome, Bethany! Love it. I’m curious–and you don’t have to answer this–but I’m curious what are some “scary” things for you to do this year that would push you toward these goals?

        For me, putting together a book proposal, pitching to other blogs and websites, and sharing pieces I’ve never shown anyone before.

        • I’ll share a few of them. 🙂 For writing, submitting articles to some different places and writing a novel, and for loving-witnessing. I want to be able to boldly share my faith through written words and in person.
          Neither of them are too scary, but they are huge steps for me. Especially witnessing-I’ve been chronically ill for a long time, and it’s almost harder to get back into witnessing after not being able to for years. 🙂

    • YES! Sometimes simply breathing and letting go can actually be the hardest/scariest things for us to do!

    • Writing, music, God (not in that order though 😉

      For writing I want to finish the first draft of my contemporary fiction novel, and try again to submit to a large site like desiringgod or Relevant… if I had an article that was good enough that it seemed wise and realistic.

      For music I want to get at least two hours of practicing in for viola each week and play piano for fun at least once a week.

      For “God”, I want to be starting every morning with God, even if only reading a couple verses and saying a short prayer. Or at least every weekday morning.

      • These are really great Olivia! Thanks for sharing. God bless you as you pursue these goals with all your heart!

      • I am taking several classes. The word study covers a lot for me though; this year I really want to focus on studying for school, but also my Bible, music, and a few other things. 🙂

  • This is a great article, Christopher! Thank you for sharing it! It’s another challenge to me to be more intentional and responsible as I pursue the things God’s called me to this year.

    I guess my words would be writing and investing (in other people, relationships, and my own walk with God).

    • Excellent words, Katherine! I know you’re already killing it at writing… and investing can be a big task! God bless you as you take it on this year!

  • This was such a challenge but refreshing, motivating article! Thanks for writing! My one word vision for this year is also writing! 😉

    Also, loved what you said here:

    “No matter the outcome, the greatest fulfillment often comes with the greatest risk.

    How fulfilled do you want your life to be in twenty-eighteen? Take a risk.”

  • Loved your article, Christopher! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Writing is definitely on my list! It’s been a dream since I could, well, write, but I’ve let it lie dormant recently. Now I’m blogging (putting yourself out there can be scary!) and writing fiction again.

    I want to seek God more actively, and serve. I don’t know the wheres or the hows, but He’s got the plan and He and I are in this together. Soli Deo Gloria!

    • Thanks, Jeanette!

      I’m so proud of you for writing again! I agree, it certainly can feel scary to put yourself out there. But it’s so good and healthy!

      Blessings on your year!

  • “No, it won’t be perfect.” This sentence punches a hole in the wall between me and action. I’m inclined to stand still, trying to work everything out perfectly, and therefore never move forward. That’s why my first word is Finishing. Starting is easy, but finishing a writing project, memorizing a piano piece, following through on a desire to serve, is difficult.
    My second word is Searching: searching to know God deeper, to know others more fully, and to truly learn in school, rather than merely letting the knowledge wash over me.
    Thanks for writing this article, Christopher! It made me stop and consider what I want 2018 to look like.

    • You’re welcome, Cricket!

      I totally get the perfectionism/struggle-to-finish thing. I’ve found it really helpful to (as much as I can) be okay with my work being flawed, otherwise I spend 80% of my time and energy trying to make my work go from 90% good to 100% perfect. But as you know, the struggle is real!

      Finishing and Searching. Love it!

  • Mine would have to be ‘give up’. I’m need to give up some of my time for others, and give up my desires for others. I need to give up what I want for what God wants for me. I need to give up some of the things that are making me waste my time.
    This was just what I needed. And I *did* need to finally just buckle down and send my article into the Reb, no matter how many rewrites I could do. Thanks for letting me know how unscary you are. 🙂

  • The word that best sums up my goals for the year is “fearlessness.” I feel like fear is holding me back in so many areas of my life. So your third point was especially helpful for me – I need every reminder I can get to take risks and trust God with the results! Thank you!

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →