I launched this newsletter exactly one year ago. I had no agenda, and it wasn’t necessarily a goal to complete in 2019. In fact, I’ve never been much of a goal-setter. I think goals can be great, but my focus is more on who I am becoming than what I can accomplish. This is why my first installment was titled, Forget Resolutions…Do This Instead — where I discussed the power of choosing One Word for the year. It’s a simple and compelling approach to growth in a new year.
We all have different desires and dreams and also derive motivation by different means, so I want to share some additional thoughts to help spur you on to a great 2020…
First, reflect: As a culture, we’re poor at reflection. It’s easy to be so caught up in the year ahead that we forget to learn from and give thanks for the year that was. Ideally this is done with family, a spouse or a friend. Here are a few ideas Theresa and I use to facilitate discussion from author/speaker Jefferson Bethke:
- Story of the Year: What would you say if you were to retell the story of your year in five minutes? Pretend you are talking with a friend over coffee you haven’t seen since 2018. Do this individually and then share.
- Questions to Ask (yourself and spouse/friend): What were the biggest ‘wins’ and ‘losses’ from this past year? What was your favorite moment? What was one hard thing that you’re glad and thankful for in retrospect? What most surprised you? Did any patterns emerge from the year? Where did you feel God show up? What was most challenging? In what area did you most grow? What rhythm gave us the most life?
Now, look ahead: There’s no rule that change or growth must be initiated at the beginning of a new day or week or year or even decade! But I do believe the changing of a calendar year can be a strong catalyst to adopt new behaviors or begin a new pursuit.
Atomic Habits by James Clear is THE book for anyone wishing to improve their habits/disciplines/systems. Here’s two thoughts from him to help you in 2020:
- Distinguishing systems from goals: Eventually, I began to realize that my results had very little to do with the goals I set and nearly everything to do with the systems I followed…Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results…Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress…Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment. That’s the counterintuitive thing about improvement. We think we need to change our results, but the results are not the problem. What we really need to change are the systems that cause those results. When you solve problems at the results level, you only solve them temporarily. In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level.
- Identity Formation: Outcomes are about what you get. Processes are about what you do. Identity is about what you believe…True behavior change is identity change. You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you’ll stick with one is that it becomes part of your identity…Each habit is like a suggestion: ‘Hey, maybe this is who I am.’…Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity…but it’s important to let your values, principles, and identity drive the loop rather than your results. The focus should always be on becoming that type of person, not getting a particular outcome.
Master the Fundamentals: I’m running a youth basketball camp this week. My three points of emphasis will be constantly reaffirmed. They’re applicable to all of us, especially as we embark on new endeavors in this new decade.
- Challenge Yourself: Anything new will be uncomfortable. That’s not only okay, it’s good. Growth happens outside of comfort zones. Understand change will be painful and embrace it with the mindset that you are becoming stronger and better because of the challenge.
- Make Mistakes: If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not getting better. It’s not about perfection; it’s about progress. So what if you miss a day of working out or eating clean? Get back to it the next day. The best athletes have short memories — As quickly as a mistake happens, they’re onto the next play. If you are to implement your new regime 90% (or even 80%) of the time; will you be better because of that? If so, then forget the 10% and move forward with the wins.
- Have Fun: It’s not all about the end result. It’s not all about checking off each of your goals by December, 31st 2020. The outcome is a byproduct of the daily disciplines. Can you enjoy the journey? Make a game out of it and compete against yourself. Celebrate the small wins. Appreciate the little moments, and you’ll learn to enjoy the process.
I appreciate you reading this newsletter. Over the past 12 months, I’ve been humbled to receive encouraging notes from professional and college athletes, business owners and leaders, pastors, coaches from youth to college to professional, parents, educators and more. I value your input and any feedback you may have. Please let me know how I can improve and any ideas or topics you’d like me to address.
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and happy Holiday season. All the best to you in 2020!