I’ve said before (also here), I don’t make resolutions. Instead, I choose a word or theme to use as my “filter” as I go through the year. This works much better for me than a list of changes I want to commit to. Because, generally, I find that the theme/filter works to make more lasting change in multiple areas of my life. It’s not about behavior modification, it’s about a heart-level desire to be the best I can be.
So 2018’s Theme is:
SIMPLIFY. with purpose. I’ve even chosen a theme verse for the year (a first for me, although the Holy Spirit has been dropping this simple, familiar verse in front of me multiple times over the last couple of years…I’m finally getting the message)
SIMPLIFY is a back-to-basics approach for me. Everything in my life should be able to run through either of these criteria – is it for the Kingdom? Is it for righteousness? If the answer to either is “no” then why am I even considering it.
SIMPLIFY allows me to say “no” to the things that don’t serve God’s purpose for my life. This past fall I was so frustrated with my schedule – in my personal life – it felt like by the time I found a second to take a breath, that second was already scheduled with something else. I missed out on several things that I wanted to do, because I didn’t have time available. This introvert was running on fumes, for sure. And I didn’t like it. And I wonder what other opportunities I missed out on because I was trying to be all to everyone under my own power – without considering if it was even necessary.
But SIMPLIFY isn’t the entirety of my theme. The other piece that excites (and scares) me is “with purpose.” My whole life I’ve struggled with a particular character flaw – I don’t like finishing things. I have start-itis in every part of my life, haha. I LOVE starting things, learning new things, planning projects or events or amazing changes…. but when it comes down to following through on my commitment, I back off. The Lord is not like that, He wants me to become more like Him, so with His help I will complete the tasks He’s set out for me for this year. I want to be a person whose actions match her intent.
So how do you/I/we SIMPLIFY? I’ve been doing some research on this (actually, I was researching planners because planners are pretty, and as my daughter says, they give the illusion of productivity). I found the following helpful tips, which I already started implementing at work and I can tell you they help so much:
1. Stick to 3 Priorities Each Day. Hand-raise if you love to-do lists. Both hands up if you’re the type to write down something you’ve already completed just so you cross it off the list. Apparently this is not the most productive way to get things done. Instead, pick 3 medium-to-large size projects to work on first thing. Then actually work on them first thing. You’ll be amazed at how much more you get done. I certainly was – my job is deadline driven, and it is pretty common for me to have 4-5 items due on the same day. But by tackling my priorities this way, not only am I able to accomplish more in the same hours, I’m able to work ahead, and get some of those things done before they’re due. Which is where I start to build space in my schedule for other things. And I’m seeing where it works in my personal life, too. Whether it’s for improvement in health, saving money, achieving a big personal goal, making sure I spend quality time with my kids, the 3 Priorities method will save this single mom’s sanity.
2. Write it down. Write down the things that are important to you – and not just tasks you need to complete. Write down your values, your guiding principles, etc. and post them somewhere you will see them. See, I’m doing that right now.
3. Review and Reflect. The only way to know if you’ve made changes where you want to see them is to stop for a minute and think back over the day, week, month, year…. what have you learned? What would you do over? Be honest about the negatives, but also be honest about the positive. Take time to celebrate and correct yourself.
4. Plan ahead. Use the priorities, the values, and the lessons learned to carry you forward into the next day, week, month, year… You will be amazed at how quickly changes come and how long they “stick”!
Oh, and the planner research I did? I decided on this one (not an affiliate link, I just really love it), which actually has EVERYthing in the list above – it’s a planner focused on “faithfulness over success.” It’s not a scheduler, it’s more like a journal, including sections for daily quiet time and weekly sermon notes. Here’s the beautiful cover – it arrived at my house before Christmas, so I put it under the tree and took a picture lol
Have an amazing, blessed, SIMPLIFIED 2018!!