Posted on January 17, 2016
Posted on January 17, 2016
The first of the year brings fresh starts and renewed commitments to all kinds of things that we hope will create year-long or life-long habits. Calling them “New Year’s Resolutions” has lost some of it’s luster, so we call these things “refocusing and recalibrating.” Gyms get busy. Stores sell out of organizational items and storage boxes and exercise equipment. Social media gets quiet while people take a break.
If you’re like me, you read about all these ideas and think,
Hey… I should do that! What a great idea!
Sure, I could commit to saving more money, praying for more people, eating healthier foods, exercising on a regular basis, reading more books… All great things. Then the voices in my head speak louder saying,
You’re going to be a poor old lady if you aren’t saving 10% of your monthly income like they do.
You should be praying for one person a week, texting them every day to let them know and following up with them throughout the year.
You should NOT eat that burrito. You should have the salad instead. People will see you eating that and say, “No wonder she is overweight!”
You should get up at 5:00 am and go to the gym. Other people do it, why can’t you?
If you would just read instead of scrolling through Facebook or watching football or your favorite shows, you’d be so much smarter.
Now, I don’t mean to discount other people’s commitments to doing good things. It’s great that people are committed to do things that better their physical, emotional, spiritual and financial health.
The problem with me is that if I’m not careful, I get driven by comparison instead of driven by my values and goals.
So I made a decision at the beginning of this year, to give myself a break. I decided to celebrate the small choices I make, and not set lofty goals that I may never meet. I thought about some areas in my life where I want to make progress, and decided to take one step at a time in that direction, without thinking about an end goal. Here’s what that looks like for me:
Getting up from my desk for 15 minutes and taking a walk around the building. This clears my head and gets my body moving.
Asking myself the question: “Do you really need this?” before making a clothing purchase. This might save money over time, but more importantly, it helps me practice delayed gratification, something I’m not so good at.
Choosing the burrito today and the salad tomorrow. Because some days, I just need a burrito. Know what I mean?
Vegging on the couch, scrolling through Facebook or watching a mindless TV show and not feeling guilty about it, because some days I just need my brain to be quiet instead of stimulated more.
But most of all, I’m trying to practice saying “No” to doing things that I feel I should do and “Yes” to things that line up with my values and priorities.
Yesterday, I practiced that by taking a long walk. I had to shut my computer down, put on my sneakers, and make a decision to go. I chose it, not because of some goal to exercise a specific number of hours or minutes or to lose weight. I chose it because the walk fit into my values of quiet solitude, moving my body more, and connecting with God through the sights and sounds along the trail.
I allowed my mind to wander. I took a different path. I noticed the cactus and the stones someone had stacked up along the way. I gave myself permission to slow down, stop along the way, and take a path without knowing where it would lead.
I made a point of quieting the busy and the hurry.
And it felt good.
What might you be doing, not because it aligns with your values and priorities, but because someone is doing it and you thought you should too? Stop for a minute and check your heart. Say “No” to those things that are about obligation so that you can say “Yes” to things that put your values and priorities in the right place.