looking ahead – intentionality.

I have a really good friend – an increasingly good friend – and we sat down the other day talking about New Years, resolutions, etc. I loved my conversation with her, and we both seemed to be in agreement with the fact that a new year should come with new intentions – things you want to strive toward, but realizing you have to give yourself some space for failure. Things you want to achieve by a certain time, not necessarily things you’ll nail right off the bat.

I’m also a big believer in public accountability and having a reference to go back to. Therefore, I’m writing this today to outline some of the things I want to achieve/change over the next year – habits to form, habits to change, things to practice, etc. Join me!

Be mindful of physical fitness.
I know, I know. Who’s not aiming for this at New Years? But for me, here’s what this looks like. First of all, I’m not terribly unhappy with my body as it is right now. I’m luckily pretty thin – but the reality is that I won’t stay that way if I continue on my current path. My exercise comes only in the form of walks to the bank and indoor soccer. I have no regular routine of working out and training my body, and I’m getting to the point where I realize that my metabolism will slow down in the next five years. When that happens, I want to be ready with habits already in place that will allow me to retain the level of physical strength and fitness that I currently possess. I’m not terribly concerned with being stronger and faster (though I wouldn’t mind that) – I want to stay strong and stay fast.
So there are things I can do more of: casual runs, push-ups, stretching and breathing exercises, eating fruits and vegetables, drinking water consistently.
And things I can do less of: eating late at night, having days where I don’t exercise or exert myself at all, eating in excess, eating the wrong things at the wrong times, pushing myself in short spurts without normal practice (like I do with soccer right now.)
I’d like to create a habit of physical fitness – we’ll see how this pans out.

Keeping a grip on my schedule – ruling it and not letting it rule me.
This has been a tough one since I got a salaried position – it’s easy to let work rule the schedule and feel like a slave to work. And to a degree, it’s a good thing to be committed to the job – after all, I’m getting paid every hour of every day (depending on how you choose to look at it.) in 2014, I found myself feeling deflated when work was over, having no plan of what to do with my spare time, and ultimately wasting it. Instead, I’d like to create a habit of planning – not letting work get ahead of me, and not letting myself slack when I get spare time to do things that make me who I am – my interests, hobbies, and passions outside of work.

Making plans and keeping them.
Ironically, I work best off of a schedule, and yet I don’t usually plan time to plan. My best days are the ones when I have an idea of what it is that I want to do every hour of the day. I’m not married to the schedule, but it helps me to stay committed to the idea. I’m a believer in unplugging and looking ahead to a new week, new month, new day, etc. The hope is that with my Sundays being freer (since I’m no longer commuting to Berea for church) I’ll have a day to plan the upcoming week – perhaps hour-by-hour but perhaps from a to-do standpoint, plan meals, shop for groceries, etc. I think this will help me de-stress.

Lately, I’ve been making a lot of fruitless trips to stores that used to take all of my money – so I think I have some mentalities and habits in place to serve this goal. And I don’t want to be a minimalist for minimalism’s sake, but for a bigger picture.
I’m 24. I own my own car, but it’s in increasing disrepair and I need to think about a new one. I’m settling down in a new city that I love – maybe I should start thinking about buying my own home instead of being a lifetime renter. I have TONS of stuff – I keep trying to get rid of more and more but I still have so much more than I need – I have loads of movies, books, CDs, plenty of clothes, and other crap that just gets in my way. That said, I have no need for new stuff! I find myself getting sick at the idea of buying more music or movies (I have a soft spot for books, though…) because I know that over the last 5 years, I’ve cycled through so much stuff that I just end up getting rid of. To what degree do I own stuff for the sake of owning stuff? I have more clothes than I need, more media than I need – if anything, I need to get things that are more practical and helpful: more tools, more storage space, focus on meeting basic needs, etc.

I covered this a lot in a blog around my birthday – but I’ll reiterate. I think lying is a waste of time. I think not being completely honest is a waste of time. Yes, lots of times it’s awkward – two of my friends though I was asking them on dates last year when I wasn’t – but it’s always best to be honest sooner than later. That’s a goal I’d like to continue to establish.

Answering the question: do I want to marry?
Speaking of dating…this question has come up for me. I wonder if it’s too early to decide this, because the hard thing is that there’s no certain time by which it’ll happen. Some of my friends haven’t gotten married until their 30s, some got married by the time they were 21. But I genuinely wonder about this, because honestly, I find relationships so exhausting. I hate hurting and being hurt. I hate that I get socially awkward every time I’ve gone from having a “friend” to having a “girlfriend.” I hate navigating the areas I find myself in – that the girls I’m most keen to date are also my best friends and I’m so worried about losing a friend that I don’t want to worry about dating. And honestly, I’m happy being single. I’d like to see what happens in this arena in the next year – maybe my perspective will change.

This habit has come on strong in the last month or so – I blazed through a few more books before 2014 ended, and now I find myself in love with books again. I finally have put away all of the books I’ve already read, so unread books are staring me down on my bookshelves, inviting me to read them. I’m very keen! I’d like to eventually read my entire collection.
Also, I’ve come a long way in making Bible reading a habit – getting over my hyper-spirituality as to which book to read and just choosing; getting over my its-too-early-to-concentrate-on-the-Bible mentality (a lot of my Bible study happens at 4:30 AM anymore.)
I ended 2014 with a book in my hand, and I’d like to end 2015 the same way. Forget big parties and crazy nights – I’m finally content at home with a book in my hands.

Fixing my eyes on Jesus.
This is a massive change in seasons for me. The last Sunday of 2014 was my last Sunday at a church I’ve called home for 9 years, and I anticipate that the greatest challenge over the next few months will be remembering how much I need Jesus. Even over the course of writing this, my paranoia has kicked in and I find myself worrying (even a little bit) that I’m trying to change by myself. I find myself worrying that I’m not changing in a good way. I find myself worrying that I’ll get comfortable outside of ministry, as a lay-person in a church. But I also trust God that He’s put a deposit in me, to where I can’t be content sitting around and doing nothing in a church. I trust Him that when I turn away from Him, He’ll call me back – that when I do my own thing with my own poor judgment, He’ll slow me down.

Realistically, the power of Jesus is the only power by which I can change. And the only reason I change is for His glory. I know that, but I also know that I have to remember that. Here goes a new year, and with it, new power for change with Jesus, for Jesus’ glory.

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