January is the time for goals! February is the time for dropping them. But what if, every New Year, we are actually focusing on the wrong thing? What if there's something better to carry us through the entire year...and beyond?
Everyone has their Word of the Year.
And every year, without needing to think too hard, I always know what mine is. 2019 was Momentum. And that's exactly what happened all. year. long. It was great!
This year, it's a phrase. What I feel God nudging me towards. BE READY. Don't seek to add more, just be disciplined - make the most - with what I already have. Simplify. So that I am READY.
To truly be ready requires action, not just a positive attitude. Most of life exists in the mundane Between - in between momentous events. But all those Between days are incredibly important, because it's where our character grows. And our character is what matters in the end, what actually makes a difference.
Do I care about the kind of person I'm turning into? If so, then I need to employ some discipline. Discipline isn't punishing ourselves, it's simply adjusting our habits. Because habits form us into who we are today. So who do we want to be in the future?
To Hell With The Hustle
Last month, I read To Hell With The Hustle by Jefferson Bethke. This is the perfect book to read before the February guilt from dropping your New Year's Goals sets in. My favorite chapter was titled We're Being Formed, Whether We Like It Or Not. Jefferson describes the difference between goals and habits. The former is an activity with a finish line that isn't very motivating for most of us to reach. But the latter isn't about checking a box...it's about becoming a certain type of person. Goals often result in a feeling of failure as most of us don't do a particular activity 100% of the time. But habits are lifelong things, they form our identity and still shape us even when we don't stick with it 100% of the time.
It's about "becoming someone" vs "doing something."
What's Becca Doing With This Information?
Consistent Exercise: I know the older gals in my writing group are gonna roll their eyes at this, but...turning 35 made life seem...really short. Before 30, you exercise for vanity's sake. But after 30? You do it, knowing there are some things you cannot make up for later. It's not like a test you can cram for the night before. And I don't want my body deteriorating faster than it already is. I want to BE READY. For those "good works" the Bible says God has planned for us. No goal. I could care less about running a marathon or hitting a certain number of pushups. But I DO care about being strong enough to LIVE life when I'm old, not just WATCH it.
Decluttering: It's fascinating observing how everyone in our little family really is affected by the presence of clutter or any disorganization. Creativity and motivation plummet. Mama's not happy spending time managing stuff. (deep cleaning is like, the lowest thing on my list). It's hard for me to set good habits, and spend time teaching my kids those habits, when our environment contains too many options and too much stuff to manage. This category also includes digital clutter.
Practicing: I've always been an instrumentalist, but I love to sing and I love to write. And I don't do either well when I don't practice. I always thought I needed a goal to have a reason for practicing. That mindset has always failed me. Nothing makes me feel more alive than making music and encouraging others, and it's beyond frustrating to have an opportunity to use my skills...and not be prepared.
Ain't Nobody Got Time For That
Instead of adding yet another goal to our busy lives, increasing the hustle to a more culturally-approved feverish speed, let's just...rearrange what we already have. Make daily habits of doing the things that get us closer to the people we want to be. Habits are usually small and come naturally after about 3 weeks.
Put down the phone. Make a plan to do a new habit tomorrow. Stick with it. Not to reach a number. A milestone. But because it's the kind of person you want to be. Who you are.
I'll bet by doing so, we'll all be much closer to who we want to be by this time next year :)