Tag Archives: reflections

6 Questions for a Better 2017

calvin-hobbes-new-years-resolutionsHappy New Year! Welcome to 2017!

Coming off of the tumultuous 2016, I anticipate that many of you, like me, are spending these first January days contemplating hopes for the new year. In customary resolution fashion, we might think about the number of pounds to lose or the novel we want to write or the instrument we’ve always wanted to learn to play. These are all good thoughts, but we know resolutions can be empty words, as proven every February at the YMCA. When resolutions lack resolve, what’s the point?

Over the last few weeks, three things happened that made me rethink our normal approach to resolutions. The first involved prepping for an end-of-year meeting with my design partner. He had assembled a long list of questions to help recap our work in 2016 and plan for 2017. The questions took me by surprise; they were way harder to answer than expected, but this was great. He asked things like, “What did I learn about myself through our 2016 efforts?” and “If I had one word for 2016, it would be…”

The second was developing a similar list of queries for a 2017 strategy meeting for another client, asking questions including “What data are fascinating?” and “What will be the most fun projects for 2017?” Developing these questions meant that I needed to focus on not only what we wanted to do in the upcoming year, but why.

Following suit with this questions theme, the other day I listened to one of Todd Henry’s Accidental Creative podcasts in which he asks the following:

  1. What do I want to experience? (And how do I want to feel?)
  2. What do I want to learn? (What areas of curiosity do I want to pursue?)
  3. Where do I want to go? (Places to travel!)
  4. How do I want to change? (What do I want to be different by the end of the year?)

In all three instances, I appreciated the questions because they probe the emotional reasons lurking behind WHY we want to resolve to do X,Y, or Z. They also create boundaries to help our goal-making more intentional and systematic. This might not sound like a lot of fun, but when the choice is to say, “Losing weight would be nice,” verses “I want to improve my health so that I have more energy for work and play,” the latter intentional approach creates a powerful, tangible ‘so that’ that can motivate us beyond the first few weeks of January.

In this spirit, here are a list of questions I hope can help you effectively reflect on 2016 and plan intentionally for a thriving 2017. Enjoy!

  1. What went well for you in 2016? What do those things have in common?
  2. What are the top three things that bugged you about your work and play in 2016? Why do they continue to bother you?
  3. What took up the most time in 2016? Do you want this to change, or stay the same, and why?
  4. What did you learn about yourself in 2016? Answer for each: emotionally, spiritually, physically, professionally, relationally.
  5. What top five experiences do you want to have in 2017? What has inhibited you from doing them before? What are the intermediate steps to attaining those experiences?
  6. What top three things do I want to learn in 2017? Who, or which resources, can help me learn those things?

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On Being 30

“You’ll be just fine,” my cousin said. “You’re not even in the game yet!” my Dad said. “It’s actually kind of nice,” my friend said.

I didn’t believe any of them. Turning 30 was definitely going to make me feel old.

I celebrated my 30th birthday two weeks ago, and upon reflection, I can say in complete honesty…

…I feel awesome about it.me

This is good news, youths, so take heed and take heart.

It’s a funny thing, really, how we use decades as milestones. It is arbitrary and odd that we do this. Still, culturally we look to 20, 30, 40, etc. as indicators of status, achievement, and life stage. Most of us want to have accomplished certain things within each ten year span. Setting goals is not bad in itself, but when we turn arbitrary goals into a lens through which we judge others, we feed the beastly social stigma of believing we all need to be young, beautiful prodigies. So around the world we go, many if not most of us walking in this cloud of underachieving shame, self-perpetuating our victimhood to irrational standards of youth and performance.

The day after my birthday, however,  I awoke feeling liberated. I realize now that, whether real or imagined, I let this stigma hang over my twenties. Since adolescence, I thought I had to hide my imperfections, please others, and downplay my own interests. I felt like people doubted me, thinking I was unprepared and inexperienced, and I let them. I felt like a poser. I felt somehow not quite a full person.

No longer.

Whether or not this stigma is real, it no longer has control over me. Something about turning 30 empowers me to say, “I’m not gonna take any more crap from anybody.” I’m going to like what I like and be as exuberant as I please. I’m going accomplish amazing things and from now on the only things stopping me is me. I’m going to do what I want. Why? BECAUSE I’M AN EFFING ADULT!

I know living this out is not going to be easy; changing a habit never is. I have always envied my husband who learned many of these lessons years ago and has always impressed people with his confidence and passion. I regret letting myself feel what is essentially delayed adolescent awkwardness for so much of my twenties, when I could have been doing good, uninhibited, creative work. But the goal now is to look forward to the future. Being young is overrated. The future means wisdom, which I crave, and growing in Christlike love for others, which I need. Analyzing past pains can only get me so far with those goals.

Whether age 30 is behind or ahead of you, the point is, for all of us, to embrace our God-made selves, and to shake off arbitrary inhibitions. We should be living BIG, and living into our characters, our vocations, and our loves, and focus on making something of this world with eternal significance.

Ironic, how it took an arbitrary birthday to get that. God is funny sometimes.


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