My first resolution for 2019 is to Pace the Race. Life is a marathon with mile markers between the beginning and end, some accompanied by squeals of delight while others peel the skin right off whatever hits first.
Wins and losses are by-products of living. If all you experience are blessings, you’re likely spoiled and insufferable, entitled and conceited – and miserable. Totally out of balance, with the finish line receding further into the distance instead of edging closer.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7
7 New Year’s Tips
The days leading up to January 1st present a virtual gateway, open to hope for something more in the new year or slamming the lid on the old and flushing. No year is a total loss or total win. The quality of your life and the odds that next year will be meaningful rest on the balance between each year’s ups and downs.
New Year’s is the time to take stock, identifying profits and losses from last year and crafting a balance sheet to steer you in the right direction for what’s next. Consider these seven tips for making the most of every day. A brief review of each tip follows.
- Balance is Essential
- Count Your Blessings
- Handle Regret Well
- Craft Meaningful Resolutions
- Manage Change
- Pace the Race
- Maximize Others
1. Balance is Essential
Seek balance or identify it. Before tossing 2018 into the trashcan, compare what caused pain with what brought joy. If the weight of your lows buries the highs, mix in purposeful positives next year. If you cried more tears of joy than sadness, share your blessings with someone else. There’s no better way to achieve highs than helping others deal with their challenges.
I lost two close friends, one family member, two dogs and two cats in 2018, but it was a good year on balance. In fact, it was a great year. I added more friends than I lost and look forward to making more precious memories. Our family lost one member to illness but added another, a new great-granddaughter. The cycle continues and God is on His throne.
“We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.” – Ellen Goodman
2. Count Your Blessings
Always count your blessings and learn from mistakes. Screw-ups are blessings in disguise, lessons in life, love, and faith.
Catalog your griefs. Take note of what touched you most and give them the space they deserve. Most loved ones eventually leave us. We meet, learn to cherish, holds hands for a time, then part ways. No matter how short the journey together, we are always more grateful for the gift than crushed by the loss.
List your assets; health, provision, purpose, love, wisdom, family, friends, pets, influence, energy, bounty to share. Respect your list without comparing it to anyone else’s unless you include their catalog of griefs.
Your greatest blessing is just being you. A one-off. Beloved of many. Uniquely created by your Heavenly Father. Destined for specific purpose, even if the world never knows what it is. God wastes nothing and will not change. You are important.
3. Handle Regret Well
Regrets are things you did and later wish you didn’t. Mistakes are unforced errors, not sins. Apologize where you should, repair what you can, and forgive everything else.
4. Craft Meaningful Resolutions
Most people consider resolutions the first promise they break every year. The first thing to change is how you look at resolutions. Don’t kid yourself, if you won’t commit, don’t waste ink jotting them down.
Everything of value is connected to relationship. How can you give more time, consideration, education, love? Resolve to make time for those who matter by giving them your undivided attention. If you don’t, they’ll know the truth about how much you really care. (Hint.)
Resolutions made as empty rituals are just that – meaningless. That’s the trouble with most resolutions, they’re commitments you make to yourself with no intention of carrying through. Consider one resolution for the New Year – to keep every promise – to yourself and everyone else.
Be the rare person whose promise means, “no matter what.”
“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” – G.K. Chesterton
Resolutions determine where change is desirable or necessary.
5. Manage Change
Next year will only differ from last year if something changes besides the calendar. Change happens, those you want and those you don’t.
Change something. Lose what doesn’t add to your life and seek what does. The only thing you can really change is you. Change one thing and others will follow along like ducklings.
Nothing really begins or ends at midnight December 31st except legal stuff. New Year’s marks intellectual and emotional ends and beginnings. Sometimes you need them to make necessary changes.
A Simple Rule for Managing Your Stuff
My rule for stuff is simple, if I don’t need it or love it, I don’t want it. Clear out distractions and excess baggage. Evaluate what you have in your home and who you have in your life. Treasure those who make your life meaningful. Consider saying good-bye to anyone whose presence isn’t a net positive.
On January 1st eliminate one thing from your life. Kick it to the curb and let the refuse truck haul it away. When it knocks at your door January 2nd, don’t let it back in. If it returns January 3rd, stay steady, reject it. There’s no magic to change, that’s really how it works. One day at a time.
To add something new, define it in itsy-bitsy pieces that anyone can measure. Take a tiny first step then another. Don’t try to be Superwoman, she’s a cartoon character, you’re real. Every day make one small effort until they’re automatic. Don’t worry about adding anything else until next year. Change one thing and the next becomes easier.
One change, one day at a time. How hard is that?
6. Pace the Race
Pace your Race. No one’s timing you, so don’t waste precious energy sprinting to nowhere. Move forward with measured steps and a hopeful heart.
Keep your eye on the finish line, calculating progress in smiles shared, burdens eased, speaking truth even when you’d rather not and zipping your lip when the only benefit of speaking is self-vindication.
Be purposeful. Move consistently in a positive direction, despite occasional setbacks.
Obstacles appear for good reason, revealing hidden blessings, offering bits of wisdom to those who linger to ask. Smell the roses, read aloud to kids, horses, or dogs. Observe the wonders around you. Chronicle God’s creativity. Everything is bigger than you are. Find your place.
“Most of us are living at a pace that is not only unsustainable; it’s also unbiblical.” – Craig Groeschel
7. Maximize Others
Nothing is as good for your soul as helping others. Speak love, create peace, encourage truth, share wisdom, lift the weary, ease the burdened, be kind to all, and leave everyone you meet better for the experience.
Be the face of joy to others. Laugh. Touch. Meet the eyes of passers-by and smile. Let others know you see them, care about them, and make time to visit with the lonely. The biggest winner is you.
“And I went into the new year loving myself a little less, but a little more where it actually mattered.” – Dominic Ricciolo
The most important element when maximizing others is giving God His due. Faith that He is, He can, and He will. Childlike confidence that our Lord has the answers, knows you better than you know yourself, and has great things in store for you.
Learn to Preach Without Words
Be clay in His hands. Become the vessel God designed you to be. Quoting St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel constantly, using words when necessary.”
May you be richly blessed in 2019, then pass it on to others.
“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.”Jonathan Edwards