I recently started a new journal. It’s something I love to do. Truly, it doesn’t take much to make me happy! I love picking out the blank book I’ll be using for the next year or so. Choosing the design, the size, deciding between lined or unlined. Feeling the crisp blank paper makes me excited about the future. What joys or sorrows will fill its pages? What circumstances will be captured for posterity?
I love a new year for much the same reason. It’s a fresh start, at least mentally. It whispers hopes and dreams for the future, new goals to pursue, projects to plan. I think of it as a “reset” button for my life.
I get it that some people aren’t excited at the prospect of “New Year’s Resolutions.” But for me, in a world that is constantly on the go, a new year is a signal for me to stop and take stock of my choices, priorities, and my time. To consider what is working and what isn’t. A time to pause and discover what changes might need to take place.
And so I’ve pared down the list making over the years. I no longer resolve to “exercise every day of the week” or “memorize a whole book of the Bible.” That’s a recipe for failure. Now I tend to ask myself two simple questions that help guide my thinking.
Am I Doing Too Much?
First, I consider any areas where I may be doing too much. Am I constantly feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Am I trying to people please? Is there something I signed up to do because I was guilt-induced instead of wanting to do it? Do I need to learn the art of saying no?
I recently had to quit the book club I’d been attending. Not only was it hard to make the meetings, it was hard to even get the book read. It was something fun but at the moment it was adding something unnecessary to my life that was making it more stressful than it needed to be.
Am I Not Doing Enough?
The second thing I think about is where I may not be doing enough. Is there a friendship that needs tending? A child that needs some concentrated time with me? Do I need to get back in the habit of reading God’s Word? Do I need to start some sort of exercise routine? Do I need to reach out and get involved in the community in some way that has been on my mind but requires action? Is there a creative pursuit I’ve dreamed of for years but am afraid of failure?
Of course, there are many areas that we wish we could accomplish more in. The point is not to feel like a failure or make a huge unattainable list. I usually just pick one or two areas to concentrate on making change in.
For me this year it is exercise. While this is a classic on the “New Year Resolution list” this is an area that truly needs my attention. Since having baby four a year ago I’m just getting back into a phase where I can start maintaining an exercise plan again. My main goal is simply figuring out a good time and being consistent.
For me, these two questions gently help me reevaluate my time and priorities. They help me change direction if need be or start a fresh adventure.
They are like the blank pages of my journal, summoning me to discover what the future holds.