“We set to-do goals instead of to-be goals where success is measured by what we accomplish instead of who we become. Making resolutions convinces us that all we have to do is roll up our sleeves again and get to work. The problem with this practice is that it encourages us to put the power of life change in our hands with a game plan to change our habits and then turns us loose. This approach ignores the most important part of life change: the heart.”
— Excerpt from One Word That Will Change Your Life
My last blog post (read here) discussed the benefit of using a theme instead of a checklist to establish New Year’s resolutions.
Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few days thinking about what this will look like in 2016 and —after much consideration— I’m excited to share it with the world. My theme for 2016 is…
THANKSGIVING AND VULNERABILITY
How did I arrive on Thanksgiving and Vulnerability?
Well… both of these don’t come naturally to me. In fact, I’ve never made a more uncomfortable resolution.
If I’m honest, I sit on the eve of the new year filled with trepidation versus subtle —and I mean very subtle— exhilaration. Unlike past resolutions, where I could get a pass by either relying on natural gifting or avoidance, this year’s theme requires that I step into my challenge head on.
Why do I find thanksgiving difficult? Thanksgiving requires me to slow down and be still; it goes hand-in-hand with mindfulness — a state of awareness that helps with non-reactivity.
The challenge I have with mindfulness is that I’m a doer in every sense of the word. I revere productivity and efficiency. My About page gives a glimpse of this. The concept of slowing down goes against my 25 years of genetic wiring.
But I also realize that there are extreme benefits to being mindful. As Brene Brown would say, “mindfulness gives us the awareness and space we need to make choices that are aligned with our values.”
If I want to be a sound decision maker —a leader— with a strong moral compass, I need to be mindful, meaning I have to take time to be still and be thankful.
Here’s what it will looks like for me to commit to the theme of Thanksgiving in 2016:
- A NOTE OF THANKS
— I’m committed to writing one email to one person every day of 2016 telling that individual how much they’ve made an impact on my life — that’s 366 letters (leap year, folks!) to 366 different people. At this point, I don’t even know if I can think of a list of 366 individuals; but that’s what makes this such a great challenge. Once I successfully write the 50-100 people I keep up with on a routine basis, I’m reallyforced to slow down and dig deeper to find the impact one person might have on me.
*Update* This goal has been revised based on what I learned the first month of writing letters.
- DAILY THANKSGIVING JOURNALING
— I’m committed to writing in my journal something that I’m thankful for each and every day. This is a practice that I’m already doing, but it’s so powerful that I’m recommitting to it in 2016.
I have to credit my mentor, Steve, and close friend, Greg, for this one. I sent out an email a couple weeks ago to a close group of friends asking me where I needed to grow in 2016. I got called out for not being vulnerable and open with those around me. It’s true, completely true. I’ve eluded vulnerability for the longest time because I attribute it with weakness. In my mind, the moment I open up is the moment I’ll be unveiled as a fraud. This is often true for most —if not all— men; the greatest shame we face is feeling like we don’t have it together.
But what I’ve seen in the men I look up to is contrary to this belief — they’re vulnerable, they own it, and they are leaders because of it.
“I’d have to trust that my flaws were the ways through which I would receive grace. We don’t think of our flaws as the glue that binds us to the people we love, but they are. Grace only sticks to our imperfections. Those who can’t accept their imperfections can’t accept grace either.” — Donald Miller, Scary Close
Here’s what it looks like for me to commit to the theme of Vulnerability in 2016:
- OPENING UP FIRST
— I’m committed to being the first in an accountability setting to confess screw-ups and mistakes.
— I’ll be the first to ask for an apology when I’ve offended or wronged someone.
If I expect others to open up and be vulnerable, then I need to be the first to do so.
So that’s what I have so far. Again, the beauty of establishing a New Year’s theme is that it allows for the unknown. As new opportunities arise, I’m sure the concept will develop — and hopefully I’ll develop with it.
I challenge you to pick a theme that forces you out of your comfort zone and causes you to grow. Here’s to a Happy New Year!