It’s that time of year again. After all the presents have been unwrapped, carols have been sung, and all of the eggnog has been drunk: The limbo-like week that falls between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The time where we all get reflective, take stock in our past year’s highs and lows, and make resolutions that we’ll be lucky to still be following through on by the time January 31st rolls around. Sound familiar?
Guilty. As. Charged.
In this vein, I recently read a blog post from photographer and filmmaker Trey Hill titled, “A New Year’s Revolution“. In the first part of the post, he highlights the importance of viewing our lives as stories. Resolution making fails at “writing” a good story. They’re passe. Old hat. He writes, “When you resolve to lose weight or write more or quit smoking, you are making two mistakes. First, you’re telling (yourself) a boring story. Second, you’re telling that boring story in a completely unoriginal way.”
Again….sound familiar? Have I hit a nerve yet?
It’s a trap I fall into every single year. I went back and looked at my 2015 resolutions that I wrote last December. Most of them were incredibly boring and almost doomed from the start: Lose weight. Go to the gym. Eat better. Invest in my marriage. Be a better dad. Who comes up with this crap? Simply put, good intentioned people who want to feel good about themselves for setting goals, but either:
A. Don’t want to put in the necessary sacrifices and hard work to achieve them.
B. Have no clue on how to achieve said goals, but want to feel good for “trying something.”
In looking at my 2015 resolutions, I definitely trended towards the former more than the latter. This begs the question, with less then 48 hours until 2016, what am I to do? Resign myself to half-hearted resolutions and hope that I “try harder” this year?
Going back to Trey Hill:
As I said, a story is simply a character who wants something & overcomes conflict to get it. The sum of the waves of conflict one must endure during the course of a story, in the end, means something; this something we call theme. It’s the emotionally satisfying nougat core in the candy bar of a well told story.
To say it another way, theme is the guiding idea that strings together all the choices — success & failure — a character makes and gives them singular, overarching purpose.
For three years now, when the story title changes — that epic story of endurance called Two Thousand Fourteen ends with fireworks & a kiss; a new story, titled Twenty Fifteen, opens on a cold, quiet morning — I change the theme instead of making a resolution.
As the Guinness guys would say…”BRILLIANT!” Hill’s themes for the last three years have been Collaboration (2013), Patience (2014), and Creation (2015.) In thinking over the last couple of years, my themes would be as follows:
2014 could be summed up by one word – Survival. A year marked by major life changes, job transitions, Luke starting school, uncertainty, doubt, people coming and people going. A true year of, “there but for the grace of God, go I.”
2015 could be marked by the word, “Transition.” Management changes at work, Leia starting school, Amber deciding to go back to work outside the home, and professional career growth for me. All things considered, 2015 was a good year.
So that leaves us with 2016. What will be my theme this year? After some thought, I settled on Intentionality. My biggest problem is that I’m lazy and lack discipline in areas of personal growth. I try and stick with something, but soon lose the will to continue over time. So in that vein, I have goals that I want to accomplish this year:
1. At the end of 2016, be at or below 190 pounds.
2. At the end of 2016, I’ll have run at least a total of 250 miles.
3. At the end of 2016, I will have read three books.
4. At the end of 2016, I’ll have written and published a total of 50 blog posts.
5. At the end of 2016, we’ll have paid off $5,000 in debt.
6. At least once a month, take my wife out on a date without the kids.
If I have any chance of achieving any of the above goals, it’ll require discipline, sacrifice and dedication. They will require me to be intentional in all facets of my life, from what I choose to eat to how I manage my time to how I construct our budget.
So who’s going to join me in foregoing making resolutions for 2016? Rather, what is your theme going to be for 2016?