The brightness of the sun shining through the window on snowy, cold winter days is brief, rare, and short-lived. New Year resolutions like the winter sun in January often seem to be brief, rarely followed through, and short-lived.
We see January 1 as a day to begin all the things and then give up exhausted a week or two later because sprinting towards those goals wasn’t sustainable. Eating healthy, working out, and purging your house like Marie Kondo quickly fall to the wayside. As we enter the third week of January you may be beginning to feel your pace slowing and your motivation waning.
Perhaps reframing the entire month of January to become a runway for the next year is a better approach. If we are able to reframe this beginning month as a warm-up, a slow jog that begins forward momentum, will slowly build, and actually last throughout the whole year, we will find ourselves reflecting on our year in December with less regret and a more hope.
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” (Thoreau)
A few years ago I decided to come up with a word to frame the year — my hopes, dreams, and focus for the next 12 months. Since then the value of this practice has grown more in my heart and mind. The winter months immediately following Christmas have become a season of rearrangement.
It’s a time to move the furniture in our lives around to find a better place for them in this next season, and as we rearrange we often discover certain things are no longer needed and necessary for what’s ahead. It is a time to move everything around to see what stays and what goes — in our hearts, minds, schedules, habits, rhythms, relationships, and priorities.
“A time to keep and a time to throw away.” (Ecclesiastes 3:6)
Here are a few prompts you can ask yourself if you want to use January as a month of rearrangement rather than a quick burst of resolution that fades like a firework. I suggest writing them down in a notebook or agenda so you can go back to adjust, edit, and reflect in the months ahead.
- Pray about/think about/land on a word or phrase for the year (or simply the next season ahead) that you feel will cause you to flourish and focus your attention on the values and priorities you hold closest to your heart this year/season.
- Write down the definition of this word and the implications of what you think it will look like in your life; this doesn’t need to be long. Simply jot down two or three sentences that express the heart of what you feel this word will mean for your focus in the year or season ahead.
- Think about the different areas in your life that you want to prioritize and write them down in a list. For example my list of priorities includes: financial, marriage, parent, spiritual, health, rest, and social.
- Write down a specific and stretching, yet achievable intention/goal/aim (whatever language that empowers you to bring fresh focus to that area of your life) that falls within the framework of your word of the year or season.
For example, my word for 2019 is engage, so for each of the categories on my list I am thinking about ways to engage in them in a more active way that grows me but isn’t so overwhelming I will want to give up.
Here is what that looks like for the health category: spend 10 minutes exercising six out of seven days a week.
This is a very active reach for me because I haven’t been engaged in any regular exercise in years, but the time of 10 minutes is something that seems possible to me.
Write all of this down somewhere you can go back and look at throughout the year, and write them down in pencil. When it’s written in pencil you can erase and adjust as needed — sometimes we throw everything out when what we really need to do is edit.
If you need a reminder to go back and look, put it as an event in your phone. Honor your time by giving yourself 10-20 minutes a month to refocus your heart on what really matters in the season you’re in.
Take that small bit of time to edit and adjust anything and then write one sentence reflecting on how you feel your word really surfaced and worked in your life that past month. Last year my word was rooted and in December it felt like God was really speaking to me about being rooted in contentment, fresh focus, and right action. So I wrote it down and was done.
“But if we roof and wall time into chambers of expectation, plan and commitment, our days become memorable. Time takes on significance when we frame it on a human scale.” (Robert Grudin, Time and the Art of Living)
I pray as you spend the rest of this month rearranging and moving things around in your life you are able to see the significance of the time we’ve been given, this wild and wonderful gift.
Love and blessings,
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