Am I the last one to get my act together for 2018 planning? I resisted, but true to my planning nature, once I got started, I enjoyed it. Just like every year.
And just like every year, I optimistically created a list of resolutions – things I need to change if I want to catch a glimmer of my vision for “what I want my life to look like in 2018.”
I pondered that list and those changes for so many days that the first of the year came and went and I still didn’t have a plan.
I watched as my inbox filled up with ideas and promises for ways to make this year different. If I followed this advice or purchased that goal-setting tool, this could be the year when my resolutions won’t end up in a pile of unfulfilled dreams and broken promises. (I’m telling you, my mood was getting dark!)
After so many years of setting resolutions and missing the mark, after so many times of making promises to start or stop doing something, then breaking those promises somewhere around mid-January, I dug in my heels and said, NO.
I sat down with a blank sheet of paper and thought about the areas of my life that I value most. Then I drew a big circle and divided it into those areas: relationships, health, professional, finances, etc. I sat back and thought about what I would like my life to look like in each of those areas. Not just this year but every year. What would my life look like if I lived it from a place of what I value? Not what I believe I should or must accomplish, but what I hold most dear? As I jotted these ideas down, it gradually dawned on me that I was looking at an invitation.
An invitation to live a different way.
All of us are invited into our lives every day. To make the most of the time we have.
Let me give you an example. I value my relationships. When I think about what I would like to be true about my relationships, I envision vibrant bonds with my adult kids, strong family ties with my parents and my sister, and deepening friendships. I’m invited to have and enjoy these things in my relationships. If I say yes to this invitation, there are some things I will want to bring to the party. Like more time spent listening to my kids instead of giving advice. Offering daily words of encouragement to my family and friends. And investing time in regular phone calls, messages, and visits.
By starting with what I value and envisioning what I would like to be true in that area of my life, it was easy to come up with some ways I can help to make that happen. And these became not my resolutions, but what I will say yes to, so I can move closer to the life I want.
Some might say this is just semantics. But swapping “should” for “invited” is a game changer.
Instead of telling myself I should lose 20 pounds and get eight hours of sleep every night, I’m feeling invited to be strong, healthy and well rested. So I’m saying yes to eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
Instead of promising to spend one hour a day reading my Bible, I’m feeling invited to have a deepening relationship with God. So I’m saying yes to a daily quiet time of reflection and prayer.
Rather than pledging to finally clean out all of my closets, I’m feeling invited to enjoy simplified, de-cluttered and clean living spaces. So I’m saying yes to creating a capsule wardrobe, giving away the things I don’t use, and buying nothing new that I don’t need.
What about you? How might it change the way you think about resolutions if you tried re-writing them as invitations for your life?
What are you invited to be, to have and to enjoy this year?
It’s good to have goals and to set a course for our lives. And the first of the year is a natural time to re-evaluate and decide if we’re still moving in the right direction. But as good as it feels to set goals and make resolutions, we are created for so much more than checking items off a checklist. How much better to answer the invitation to live the lives we dream of than to beat ourselves up for not accomplishing the tasks we’ve set for ourselves?
When we replace “should” with “invited,” every day gives us a new opportunity to keep the promises we make. So when January 1 rolls around again, it will be just another day to smile and reflect on how we’re moving steadily closer to having the lives we want. By giving up on resolutions and choosing instead to live our lives out of the joy and passion we feel for the things we value most.
Happy New Year!
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)