The First Sentence

Yesterday I threw my 2010 calendar away and put up the 2011 calendar.  The old one was a mess of marks making memories of days gone by. The new one is as clean as the white page I see every week.

I am a pastor, so I have to write a sermon most every week. One of the hardest parts of any creative task is staring at the blank, white page. It’s difficult to write the first sentence. It takes some time to study the text, decipher the theology, and boil it all down to a central thought. But the first sentence — and along with it, the first paragraph — determines the shape and direction of the rest of the sermon. It’s so very important to capture attention, get thoughts headed in the right direction, and set off toward the goal.

The new year is a blank, white page waiting for you to write that first creative sentence. Now is the time to start looking at that wonderfully blank calendar and formulating the first sentence. With your first sentence of the new year you can capture attention, get your thoughts headed in the right direction, and set off toward the goals you have in mind.

But before you write that first sentence, take some time this week to study your life, decipher the direction, and boil it down to a central thought:

  1. Studying your life: Reflect on the ups and downs, highs and lows, successes and failures of the last year. What have you learned? What did you miss? What would you do differently? How will you change it if and when you can?
  2. Decipher the direction: Are you satisfied with the direction your life is headed right now? What would it take to change direction? Is now the time to make a major (or even minor) change of direction? Who or what will set that direction for you? Do you want to stay on the same path, or is it time to take a different fork in the road?
  3. Boil your overall goal down to a central thought that you can easily remember and repeat: Could you state your goal for 2011 in the form of an “elevator speech”? If you can easily tell others, it’s something that you can keep foremost in your own mind as the year starts.

Go get a blank sheet of paper and write down the first sentence of your new year. The blank piece of paper is 2011. The first sentence you write is going to literally get you to capture your own attention, get your thoughts headed in the right direction, and set off toward the goal that, God-willing, will bring you satisfaction, provide service to others, and make for an enjoyable 2011.

Here’s my first sentence of 2011: In 2011 I am going to take risks that stretch my normal thoughts and patterns, while I attempt to inspire creativity in those closest to me at home and at work.

What is your first sentence for 2011? I’d love to hear!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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