It’s a brand new year. There’s something about the word “new” that appeals to us. It’s a fresh beginning, a new start. Gyms will be crowded for the next few weeks with people looking for a new start with their fitness. Smokers use the new year as motivation to quit. A new year is an opportunity to turn a new page in life.
Many people would welcome change, but they either don’t know what to do or don’t want change badly enough to do what it takes. One thing is certain: you can’t keep doing the same things in life and expect different results. That’s why a new year is an opportunity. It’s a chance to take a different path.
If you’re sensing that there ought to be more to life than what you’re experiencing, allow me to suggest three questions to ponder. How you answer these questions can help you decide your first steps toward personal change.
1. What kind of person are you becoming?
Do you realize that you aren’t the same person you were five, ten, or twenty years ago? It’s true. Life has a way of shaping us, changing us, and molding us. Think back over your earlier life. Chances are you have different hobbies and interests now compared to before. You probably spend your time and money differently these days (think kids). How has your worldview changed as you’ve grown older? And then there are the choices you’ve made which has impacted the direction and your outlook toward life. You aren’t the product of your circumstances. You are the product of your choices.
So who are you becoming? What kind of person have you grown up to be? Are you satisfied with your ability to love and be loved, to control your emotions and your anger, to accept and learn from criticism? If you don’t like the person you’re becoming, then the New Year is a perfect time for change.
2. Where are you going?
I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, and a favorite summer activity was tubing down a river on an inner tube. It was fun for me because there was no skill involved except to stay on the tube. You don’t have to paddle. You just relax, and the river does the rest.
Life is a lot like tubing, and many people live their lives as if that’s what they’re doing. They allow the river of life to move them along, never realizing that changing direction or enjoying a different outcome requires purposeful, sustained effort.
Where are you going in life? If you continue on the same trajectory that you’re on now, where will you end up? If the answer is somewhere different that where you dream of being, then why not use the occasion of a new year to make a course correction? Set a goal. Accept a challenge. Take a chance. This time last year, I was 25 lbs. heavier, unfit, and unsatisfied with the way I felt about myself. I accepted a weight loss challenge at my gym, met new friends, set a goal, and got to work. Now I’m fitter, stronger, lighter, and more confident. Let me tell you- if I can do it, then so can you.
3. Who is doing life with you?
Have you noticed that in our culture, movie heroes are most often loners, people who want to keep to themselves? Rambo, Batman, Jack Reacher, and the list goes on. We’ve been conditioned to think that we are islands and we can thrive and survive by ourselves.
The product of that mindset is a life that makes little impact on other people. An old African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” The greatest impact of your life will be judged by how you have impacted other people. Most people believe that the goal of life is to be happy. Unfortunately, that’s not true, because pleasure does not bring fulfillment and satisfaction. A much better life goal, one that brings exponential amounts of fulfillment and satisfaction, is to positively affect the life of another human being. That’s the only way your legacy will survive you.
I have a goal for my own life this year. I want to compete in a Spartan Race, which is a distance race that includes obstacles and physical challenges. The clock is ticking for me (I’m getting old), but a Spartan Race would be a great goal to achieve this year before I get too old to run. You can read more about Spartan Races here.
What about you? Where’s the area of your life that you want to grow or change in 2018? Maybe for you, it’s time to address an undesirable habit. Maybe you want to read more. Or perhaps it’s time to turn your attention to your spiritual health.
I’d love to hear from you. Take a minute to leave a comment and tell me what you’re thinking.