I usually hate the idea of New Year’s Resolutions™. I try to avoid big, dramatic changes in my life, favoring little baby-steps instead – small steps aren’t as exciting, but to me they seem to be more sustainable and meaningful. So I don’t really get into the New Year’s Resolutions™ thing. I just try to make small improvements to my life throughout the year.
So why am I writing a New Year’s Resolutions™ post this year? (And why am I trying to convince myself it's not a "New Year's Resolutions™ post" because I called it a "non-resolutions" post?) It’s partially because it’s been a long time since I’ve written a standard blog post (and for some reason my 2,500 word seminary essays aren’t big hits on my blog...).
But also, and more importantly, I’ve been making some deliberate changes in my life over the past few months that I want you all to know about. On one level, I hope you hold me accountable to stick with these changes, and on top of that, I hope some of you might join me in these changes. While they may not be helpful for all of you, I expect that some of you share these struggles with me, and maybe the practices I’m embracing will be helpful for you, as well.
Here are my resolutions for 2019:
Resolution 1: Make More Mistakes
I have a tendency to only do things that I’m confident I can do really well. This means that I’m often successful in the things I choose do, but it has a couple of bad side-effects.
- I don’t take risks, so I don’t grow.
- I don’t have to confess my mistakes.
When I say that I am trying to make more mistakes, I mean that I want to take risks – I want to think beyond the bounds of what I think is possible so I can be a part of something remarkable. I want to fail so I can learn from those failures. And I want to be forced to publicly recognize those times that I fail, to be confronted by my own limitations and challenged to live more deeply into humility.
Resolution 2: Embrace In-Between Moments
This may be a generational problem, but I’m a technology addict. I am constantly stimulating my brain with some kind of content. During breakfast, I skim the news on my phone, then if I finish that I open up Twitter and scroll through what’s trending; on my drive to and from work, I put on a podcast or audiobook; the evening is filled with more work or television or reading.
The result of all this is that my mind is constantly being filled with things, but it never has time to process. I am so occupied by expanding my awareness of what’s going on in the world that I’m never able to simply be present in the moment.
About a year ago, I spent a few months trying a new practice during my work commute. For the 22 minutes I spent in the car each morning and evening, I turned off the radio. Sometimes I would pray, sometimes I would talk to myself, and sometimes I would just drive in silence. What I noticed in this time was that the quietness of the commute helped refresh me for the rest of the day. It was a really nice way for me to prepare for the stress of the office and recover from it once the day was over.
For various reasons, I didn’t maintain that practice for too long, but in the last month or so I have found myself resurrecting it in small ways. When I’m eating – particularly when I’m eating with my wife – I intentionally lay aside my phone and try to be present with her, even if we’re not talking about anything. When I go to the gym, I sometimes take out my headphones and pay attention to the people around me.
These in-between moments, which I am so used to filling with the distractions of media connectivity, have given me space to more authentically connect with myself, others, and God. There is power in embracing these in-between moments.
In 2019, I am making small changes in my life to take more risks, make more mistakes, and disconnect from distractions in order to better connect with genuine life. How are you being intentional in 2019 to live a better life? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.