New Year’s resolutions?

The fireworks are over, the new year has come and that means my brain starts the same conversation it has every year. Every year I think about doing some resolutions and inside my head the conversation goes something like:

There are lots of things I would like to change about myself, so I should do some resolutions.

But only 8-40% of resolutions are kept, so why bother?

Mine could be a part of the 8-40%.

Sure they could…but will they?

Yes…I mean, sure…I mean…

Don’t get sucked into the hype that just because the year is new, that you have to make formal decisions.

But, I want to, so why not start?

You can start…but will you continue?

Every year I start this way and every year I come to no conclusion. I don’t think there is a right conclusion to be made, for me, for you, for anyone. Each day is a new day, so each day allows us to make changes that we want to make. Does it matter that a new year has begun? Not really, but since God has seen fit to give me another day, I will start today anew with several new goals in mind. None of these have target end dates. Some may take days, some months and some may never finish. Either way, one thing I do know, accountability will help any new goal come to reality and that is why I am placing mine here for all to see. Will you walk beside me and keep me accountable, always striving towards achieving these goals?

Physical

  • Lose weight – I don’t want to specify a number because I don’t know what number to specify. I have a good amount to lose and I want to continue losing until I reach a weight where I am comfortable.
  • Run at least one triathlon and beat my previous time – I ran my first triathlon last year with my mom and brother and I really enjoyed it. There is one coming up in May not too far from me and I hope to be ready enough to beat my previous time.

Spiritual

  • Pray – I pray, but not nearly as much as I desire to pray. I want my prayer life to be as vital to me as anything else and making a conscious effort to pray more is the first step.
  • Disciple and be discipled – Until recently I have never really had a mentor, but the last few months have been nice meeting with someone weekly to discuss life. I want to be that for someone as well, but I’m not sure where that person will come from.

Mental

  • Counseling – I am a big proponent of counseling. I think just about everyone should get counseling at some point. I started counseling again last October and I am really enjoying it. The next step is to truly take what I am learning and make an effort to institute it into my daily life.
  • Read more for fun – I used to read a lot and really enjoyed it. Now it seems I read for 10-15 minutes and then I get bored, fall asleep or move onto something else. I want to get back into reading for pleasure because when I do that I am in a better place.

Missional

  • Increase my skills – Seeing as I am doing a lot of work in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) I want to get certified to teach TEFL. Doing that will allow me to be better at creating curriculum in general, but especially for TEFL projects.
  • Communicate consistently, clearly and more often- That says it all, I wouldn’t be here without my ministry partners, so I need to do a better job at sharing about my work here and letting them know how much they mean to me.

Family

  • Love on them – I’ve got an amazing family and they deserve so much love. I could do more to remind them of how awesome they are!
  • My adopted families – Over here I’ve got several families who have essentially adopted me in as a brother and an uncle. Again, I want to show them how awesome they are too!

That may look like a lot, but I’m ok with that. They are all things that will make me a better person and also show others how much they are loved by me and God.

What are your plans for this year? Do you do resolutions? If so, I would love to hear them.

I resolute to not resolute…oh wait, that’s a resolution

Last week I talked about Don Miller’s tips for resolutions and his four reasons why they don’t work. This week I then read a blog by Jon Acuff about what he is doing instead of resolutions this year. To be quite honest, I love his idea and I am totally stealing it for myself.

I recommend you read his blog, but I will sum up his points extremely fast. He says that a year long resolution doesn’t work for him so he is breaking down the year into 7 periods of 52 days and for each period he is going to focus on each area of life (Spiritual, Financial, Physical, Social, Mental, Career, Family) and do the following:

1. Pick a goal or two in each of the 7 areas of life. (E.G. Physical = Working out 4 days a week.)

2. Crush said goals for 52 days.

3. Drop the ones I hate at the end of the 52 days, keep the ones I love and then work on a brand new set for 52 days.

Here are my goals for the first 52 days of this year:

Spiritual

Read my chronological Bible 6 days a week

Study the first 33 chapters of Isaiah using John Calvin’s commentary on Isaiah.

Financial

Eat lunch at home at least 3 out of 5 week days

Physical

Lift weights at least 3 days a week

Run at least 3.1 miles at least 3 days a week

Social

Call a friend at least once a week

Mental

Read 2 fiction books

Career

Study Moodle twice a week

Study German twice a week

Family

Cook one meal a week for mom and step-dad

Spend time with brother and sister-in-law once a week

I’m going to keep track of the 52 days and my goals by using index cards and posting them on my mirror in my bathroom. I invite you to join me and Jon by setting your first set of goals for the 52 days ending (Feb 23).

What are your resolutions/goals for the year or 52 days. I would love to hear them so I can steal them for myself!

To Resolute or not to Resolute

Every year around this time you hear the word resolution more than probably Feb through November combined. I wrote about resolutions last year claiming that I wouldn’t make a resolution but rather I would set goals for life change. I still stick by that decision, but resolutions are necessarily bad….they just normally fail.

I got an e-mail from Donald Miller (not a personal one of course) with four reasons why resolutions don’t work, but it also included tips to make 2013 different from years past. Here are his reasons and tips with my questions after:

1. Our Resolutions Weren’t Meaningful.

Want to lose weight? Try participating in a walkathon or tennis tournament for charity. Maybe teach an exercise class at a retirement center. You’d be amazed at how changing your narrative context engages your mind, heart and spirit.

What could we strive to change that would be meaningful?

2. We Failed to Make a Plan.

The counterpart to planning is spontaneous order. And most New Years Resolutions rely, sadly, on spontaneous order. We think a goal is going to pull us through, but it won’t. We need to make a plan. Planning involves considering and organizing activities required to achieve a goal. Without a plan, resolutions most certainly fail.

When do we want to achieve our goal by? What steps will help us reach our goal? Who can we unite with to help us reach our goal?

3. We Forgot.

Seriously, once the car broke down and the baby got sick and the boss demanded we get the assignment in early, we simply forgot we made resolutions at all. We didn’t write the resolutions down in a place we could check from time to time. Posting the stories we want to live in a place where we can see them and review them often will keep us on track well into February and beyond.

Where will you post your resolutions and steps?

4. They Just Weren’t For Us.

So what if being a skinny super model or a fifty-year old jock just isn’t for you? We will never be motivated to fulfill somebody else’s expectations. Sadly, many people’s resolutions fail because they’re trying to become something they aren’t. Instead, what if our resolutions were in line with our own stories, our passions, our desires, our deepest wants? Of course, the key is to better understand what our passions actually are.

Why do we want to make these changes? Is it for us for someone/something else?

Tips from Donald Miller
1. Choose a meaningful ambition.

A meaningful experience is usually relational. So a more meaningful resolution might involve other people. Rather than simply deciding to lose weight, you might try running a half marathon as a family, or climbing a mountain with friends, or riding a bike in a special bike ride that benefits a charity. If it’s a financial goal, decide as a family how much of your debt you want to pay off by this time next year, then post it on the fridge. Do great things together if you’d like to create a more meaningful experience.

2. Create a plan to accomplish your ambition.

Creating a plan to follow through on our resolutions requires sitting down with pen and paper and putting real goals on real dates in a real calendar. Anything else is just wishful thinking. But making a plan also involves following through on major steps. This year, to follow through, we need to sign up for that exercise class or create that savings account or have a garage sale. Stating a vague goal is great, but creating “inciting incidents” is what really gets us moving. The term comes from novelists and screenplay writers and it involves an incident in which their characters are forced into the story. So, when we sign up with friends for an exercise class or go down to the bank and open a savings account, we are taking a step that launches our story. Creating an inciting incident may be the most powerful tool we have in following through on our ambitions.

3. Engage conflict.

Most people avoid conflict and its for good reason. Conflict isn’t any fun. But when we realize no good story is told without conflict, we can redeem it in our minds. While it may still sting, we can also see conflict as meaningful. and when conflict is seen as meaningful, its more bearable and even, to some strange extent, meaningful.

4. Share your story with the world.

While it may not be the world, feel free to add your goals for next year here.

Help me brainstorm possible goals for me and you for the upcoming year. I will post my goals next week sometime, but would love some thoughts from you.

Resolutions, shmesolutions!

So I’ve been debating writing a resolution blog since Sunday. I thought, well maybe it would be good to talk about the desire to change, the want for a better you or world. Then I thought maybe I would write about my specific resolutions to maybe inspire others in a new fashion. Then I did a complete 180 and said I wouldn’t write one at all because everyone is writing one. Now, here I am, writing one. So which thought process did I follow? I chose option D, most of the above.

This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace. Colossians 1:6

Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spiritfrom me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
Psalm 51:10-12

Whenever the New Year happens, people start talking about all of the grand plans they have for themselves in the New Year, as if by some magical changing of the digits we write for the year will allow them to have the drive, desire and fortitude to do something they have wanted to do for who knows how long. Does that even make sense? All of a sudden are you going to like food less, or like working out more? Are you going to love your family more or hate your job less because it is 2012 instead of 2011? Somehow I doubt it. No offense, but there is a reason that gyms have their highest attendance in January for the whole year. I have been going to the gym for a few years and every January it is a pain to go to the gym, but by February all is normal again.

Alone we have no strength and yet most of our resolutions start with the word I. Like we can do any of this on our own. I only have one resolution this year and that is to lean on God to constantly change in the way He wants me to change. There is nothing in me or you that is perfect so why limit ourselves. God has a plan for our lives and trying to make our own plan, just leads to disappointment when we fail.

I want to seek God daily to find out what His plans are for me each day, each week and throughout the rest of my life. I cannot hope to predict His plans for me, but I can seek His wisdom to know what next step to take. That is my only resolution, but not for 2012. This resolution is for the rest of my life, however long that is.

I wish you all the best this year and I hope that you are listening to the creator who changed you so much already and is the source of strength for us all.