Each January, people make resolutions– promises of things to change in the coming year. Inevitably, these are things that they don’t like about themselves, and view these resolutions as the solution to their problem. I
I will eat healthier. I will go to the gym regularly. I will stop smoking. I will stop watching so much TV. I will spend less time on Facebook. I will drink less.
This New Year’s, I made no resolutions. They just feel like failure before you even being. For two weeks, people struggle to diet, exercise, and abstain from their vices. Then, somewhere around mid-January, they fall off the wagon and give up.
A couple of weeks before New Year’s, however, I celebrated my 30th birthday. To say celebrated might be a bit of a misnomer. The day in and of itself was an emotional pendulum. I swung from thankfulness for the years I’ve had, and happy reflection on my blessings, to wondering how 30 years had passed, bemoaning the end of my 20s, and wondering why life hadn’t turned out the way I thought it would.
My biggest focus of failure was my lack of career. After all, aren’t you supposed to be settled into a career and making a decent income by the time you’re 30? I have no real career to speak of. I’m a baker at a local coffee shop, and while I enjoy my job, I just can’t shake that I am not a success. Western culture suggests that you’re making progress once you’re climbing the corporate ladder, run a department, own your own business, or have an important white collar job. I have none of these. I don’t have an impressive credentials either. I make the same wage as a teenager working at McDonald’s. It feels kind of pathetic.
Here’s the kicker. I chose this life. I decide that I didn’t want to climb the corporate ladder or be stuck in an office cubicle. I decided to for go money to do something I enjoy. Do I regret it? Well, the lack of disposable income is occasionally depressing, but I find myself blessed with generous friends, affordable apartment rent (by my city’s standards), and the ability to live life without a vehicle, which is a serious money saver. Many of my friends marvel at my ability to live in a tiny apartment and live life on such a low income. Generally, this doesn’t bother me. Generally, I’m actually very happy with my life. I like living small. I like it because it reduces stress in my life, and because I know that my lifestyle is more sustainable for the environment than the average North Americans’. With the way the world is looking these days, I like knowing that I’m doing my best to be part of the solution, rather than the problem.
As I go into my 30th year, I want to take the life I’m living, and live it better. I prefer to set goals, rather than resolutions. I want them to be goals that will impact the lives of those around me in a positive way. I’m not too worried about numbers on the scale, but I am concerned to build healthier relationships. I’m not so concerned about money, as how I use my time. I used to think that by the time I was 30, I’d have it all together. The older I get, the more I realize that no one ever really has it all together. So for my 30th year, rather than getting it all right, I’ll take what I’ve gotten right and make it even better. I’ll add a few more pieces to the puzzle that is my life– fill in a few of the blanks. I will choose to live with intentiionality. After all, we only get one go round at this thing called life.
You may have heard this before, but I’ll say it again: You never see a hearse with a U-Haul behind it. I choose to focus on people, rather than items. At the end of the day, it is our relationships with others that allow us to grow and become the person we’re meant to be. Material goods simply trap us, and try to trick us into thinking that we’ve arrived. But the loneliest people I know are the ones with the most stuff. Don’t fall into that trap.
As I contemplate what this year will bring, I invite you to do the same. Let it not be a resolution that you break in two weeks, but a commitment to improve and be more intentional about the way you live.
Ask yourself these questions: What are your core values? What are your dreams? We’ve all heard the phrase, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” but now, define the steps it will take to get there. Little steps are the beginning of journeys. Like Bilbo Baggins leaving the Shire, you don’t know what’s ahead, but hey, it’ll be an adventure.