I have never been big on New Year’s resolutions. I’ve lived with myself long enough to realize that I’m great at making grandiose plans and terrible at executing them. And if I’m pretty confident that I’m never going to keep a particular resolution, I’d rather not make it in the first place.
I have, however, seen a trend among some of my friends. Rather than choosing specific goals (though they may do that in addition), they come up with a word that embodies the type of change they want to see in their lives over the next year. Some examples that I have heard are words like “go” (inspiring one to tackle whatever it is they’ve been longing to do), “intentional” (a quality to strive toward in one’s actions and relationships), and “peace” (a spiritual fruit one might want to see more of in their lives). This idea had intrigued me in the past, and I’d been thinking about mentioning it to my husband as we began to discuss goals at the end of the year. As it turns out, though, I didn’t even have to bring it up, because this very idea was the topic of discussion of our small group on the Sunday morning of New Years’ Eve!
Having received an official challenge to come up with such a word, I thought to myself, “What do I see in my life that needs a change?” The nearly-immediate answer that came back was, You are too distractible. And it’s true. I wrote about my easily-distracted daughter a couple months ago, but she is not the only one in the house with this problem. I am all too easily turned aside from more important duties by random projects and errands that come to my mind, controversial discussions on social media that serve little ultimate purpose, and even the odd click-bait article that is nothing more than a time-sucking black hole. As you can guess, my smartphone is a principal enabler of many bad habits, but I’ve tried and failed internet fasts before. I figure if I can’t learn to control my underlying distractible nature, the same habits are likely to come trickling back.
So as I considered what word to choose, I thought to myself, what is the opposite of “distraction”? My answer: FOCUS.
My husband and I did come up with specific goals we have for ourselves and our family, but I think having a particular word as an underlying thought will be helpful to me. Here are some areas in which I want to improve my focus this year:
My relationship with God. Let’s be honest: I don’t feel like I really strayed from God in this past year, but I didn’t make much of an effort to get closer to Him either. As certain challenges presented themselves and certain people were on my heart over the year, I began to recognize anew how important it is for me to spend time in prayer. And truly, spending time with the Lord is the best way to make sure I am focused in the right direction each day.
My marriage and parenting. I think I probably improved somewhat in this particular area over the last year, but continually getting distracted by unimportant things still takes away time from my husband and my kids. I want to be more protective of my time with them and more proactive about giving them the attention they need.
My tasks/priorities. I want to form more of a habit of asking myself, “Is this what I need to be doing right now? Is this a good use of my time? Is this what is most important at this moment?” If the answer to these questions is “no,” it probably means I need to adjust my focus.
Whatever is true. While I think I’ve grown in this area over the past year as well, I could certainly use more work in my attitudes and my thought life. When a day starts to go wrong, I can often begin to pity myself, put blame on my husband, or become impatient with my kids. But in reality, most of the time the real problem is with me. If I can refocus my mind on the truth of the situation and get my heart back in the right place, it can often turn my day completely around.
If you haven’t yet made any resolutions for the new year (or have already broken a few!), maybe you can benefit from this simple approach of honing in on just one major idea or goal. It’s never too late to make a positive change. What would (or did) you pick as your word for the year? I’d love to hear your answers!
Photo Credit: Graphic design and minor edits by Anna Soltis. All images courtesy of author.