Like many of you, I am looking forward to the new year. But I am also aware of how beneficial and powerful it can be to learn from the past. So, before embracing 2018, I want to reflect on my big learnings from the last 12 months.
1. Embrace the adventure. If there was one word I could use to describe that last year, it would be adventure. More than any other, that word encapsulates how I feel about the journey I am on. There is risk, reward, joy, difficulty, amazing experiences, set-backs, striving. And the more I say it is true, the more I believe it to be true. I’ve written before about the power of the mind to influence how we see our circumstances. This scenario for me has been the definitive proof it is true. This is how I want to embrace life, as an adventure.
2. Do what is mine to do. For those of you who are committed to following God, you can relate to this challenge: trusting him to provide and doing your part. My relationship with God is active and growing, but I have never received an email from him (yet) with specific instructions on what to do. Earlier this year I came across this phrase, from Richard Rohr, which helped me to lean into this a little more. It was simply “do what is mine to do.” To which I’ve added, “and trust God to do the rest.” It may seem vague, or even obvious to some, but it has given me more confidence in being who he’s created me to be. And, simultaneously, trusting him to show up as only he can.
3. Routine is important. As I was working with my coach earlier this year, he observed what I had not yet put into words, “you don’t have a routine.” In the process of my career pivot, I had left the old routine behind and had not yet formalized a new one. Shortly thereafter, I put some things into my schedule and established a routine. This small change significantly improved how I approached my week. I’ve always been a disciplined person, but this reminder and adjustment was beneficial and just what I needed.
4. So is being present. While routine brings structure and order, being present allows freedom in the moment to be available to what is happening around me. It might be a creative idea, a conversation with someone, or dinner with the family. Regardless of the scenario, being fully present is the best way to experience it — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Like many of the things I’ve learned, this was an idea that resonated with me before it became a practice. And I expect it will take a life’s journey to perfect, maybe even longer.
5. “School is for a season but learning is for a lifetime.” One thing that more margin in my life has allowed is availability to shuffle kids to and fro more often. During one of the many rides with a van load of kids, I verbalized this insight. Admittedly, I was more impressed with my statement than the kids. But the wisdom has stayed with me and reminds me to keep learning. Learning comes in many shapes and sizes, and often just through experience. The key is to be open and actively pursuing opportunities to learn. Which I think is also part of embracing life as an adventure (see #1).
Statistically speaking, I have completed over half of my life. In reviewing what has transpired to date, I feel like I’ve started well. But more than that, I want to finish well. That means becoming the best version of me — of who God created me to be.
As you straddle 2017 and 2018, may these words encourage you to learn from the past while leaning into the adventure that lies ahead. I wish you a happy, fruitful, and adventurous new year. And I offer a toast — to a better version of us in the year to come.