This New Year, like most others, has brought with it a plethora of clichés, sermons, commercials, memes and other inspirational content intended to motivate and make us believe that this year will be better than the previous one. But how?
As 2015 came to a close, I kept asking myself, “How can I make 2016 a good year?” Not a year that was better than any previous one–I often think we spend too much time pining after what was instead of celebrating and embracing what is–but a year that, regardless of comparison to others, goes down in the books as a good year.
I don’t think most of us struggle with setting goals but usually after a few months, many of us find ourselves fighting to maintain focus. By September, we’ve either knowingly or unknowingly abandoned our plans for the comfort of old, unwanted habits and by the year’s end, we’re either playing catchup or making rationalizations (AKA excuses) to defend our lack of growth or progress.
After much pondering, I decided the first thing I wanted to do was to find a year-long, daily devotional. I came across one titled The One Year Uncommon Life Challenge. I was reluctant to purchase the book because the author, Tony Dungy, is a football coach. I figured he would probably use lots of football or sports analogies that I’d never be able to relate to, but the title, particularly the word uncommon, resonated with me. I trusted my instincts and spent a little under $10 for the Kindle edition.
The intro recommends to begin reading on the day which coincides with the day you pick up the book. For me, this was January 4th. It so happens that the title for this day is Reaching Incremental Goals. Well, well well, trusting my instincts appears to have paid off. Each day’s reading ends with what the authors term an uncommon key. The first sentence in January 4th’s uncommon key reads, “A little improvement each day makes a big difference over time.” Honestly this isn’t something I didn’t know but in our fast-paced, results-now culture, it’s easy to forget that making small improvements or taking baby steps, as I like to call them, is often how we accomplish most things.
According to the Christian creation story, God took six days to create the natural world (Genesis 1). At the end of each work day, He deemed his work good then on day seven, He rested (Genesis 2:1, 2). If you think about it, God could have chosen to do everything in one day or one second but instead He 1) made little improvements each day, 2) celebrated each day’s work and 3) rested when the work was done. For this year, I’m taking the same approach to accomplishing my goals.
Of course, there will be days I find it difficult to consider the progress or the lack thereof good, but hard days often produce more growth and strength in us than easy ones. We’re just not always aware of this growth or strength in those difficult times. Ultimately, in order for the year to be good, most days must first be good. While I can anticipate how things might be in December, all I really have is the day or the moment at hand so I must strive to make each day a good day.
Photo Credit: Petr Vaclavek