What I’m Doing Instead of Resolutions
“Sit down at the table. I have an assignment for you,” I told my two daughters. It was December 30, 1991. My daughters were ten and eight years old.
My son David was only three, so he was not yet old enough to be part of this assignment. My son Nick was not even a twinkle in my eye yet, as he wouldn’t show up for another couple of years.
“You need to write down your goals for next year,” I said.
Julia protested, “We don’t need goals.” Her mother jumped in and agreed. Lisa remained quiet, hoping, I’m sure, her sister’s and mother’s protests would have the right effect. But I pressed on. It was time for these girls to learn how to set goals. After all, it is proven. People who commit their goals to writing actually accomplish them. I wanted my daughters to be successful, accomplished, and fulfilled.
“Yes, you do. Now sit down,” I said as I placed a sheet of paper and a pencil in front of them. I still remember the looks on their faces. They were not happy, but they were compliant. They must have decided to just get this over with. Dad was clearly in dad mode, and mom seemed to have given up the battle.
“What do you want us to write down?” Julia, the oldest, asked.
“Write down what you want to accomplish next year,” I said.
“How do I know what I want to accomplish? I’m ten years old,” Julia wisely objected.
“Think about it. Think about what next year will be like. In two weeks you will be eleven years old. What will that be like? Who do you want to become? What friends will you make as you enter middle school? What about grades? Do you want to join any clubs or participate in sports? You can’t just go through life doing whatever comes up. You need to have goals. You must want to accomplish something. If you write these goals down, I promise you, you will accomplish them. If you don’t write them down, you’ll wander aimlessly through the year,” I explained.
Kathy couldn’t take it anymore. “Get up and go play,” she told them. And off they went. To go play aimlessly, I suppose.
To this day, Julia still reminds me of this encounter. Years ago, when we were together at family functions and goals would be mentioned, Julia would jump in with this story. I would defend my actions. In the last decade I have changed. I better understand how special it is to be a child, and Julia was right.
I was a nutcase.
All I can say is, it is tough learning to be a father. And these learning years are even tougher on the kids. Childhood is special and should be protected.
I never did return to this “forced goals” practice for my kids. But I did practice it myself. I wrote a lot of goals over the years. When I come across them while digging through old notebooks, I laugh.
The same goals kept showing up year after year.
They always had to do with my desire to lose weight, work out, be successful, make money, take on responsibility, have more free time, be a better husband and father, read more, pray more, and do a better job with time management. And the lists went on and on.
As I look back, all this goal setting created a lot of stress in my life. The premise for goal setting is, “You are not good enough. You can be even better. Think bigger. You’ll be more fulfilled if you accomplish even more.”
This is a never-ending treadmill.
In fact, the treadmill tends to speed up. I could never go fast enough or far enough when compared to the guy who was going faster and farther. I’m so glad Kathy stepped in and let the girls go play that day.
So here’s what I’m doing this year.
I’m thinking, “Who is it that God wants me to be?” And the very best answer is “Who I am already.” So this begs the question, “Who are you?”
This got me thinking in terms of interests. What is it that I like to do? What gives me joy?
I started writing down everything I like to do.
Some things were just enjoyable, while others actually brought fulfillment. When I looked over the list, a theme began to emerge. It became clear each of these activities could be categorized into one of three of my life’s daily activities. At least the activities I enjoy doing.
This year I am going to take Kathy’s advice: “Get up and go play.” This is what she does, and she loves her life. She knows she is the woman God wants her to be because she knows who she is. Most importantly, she likes who she is. She is one with God.
My 2019 theme is to write, teach, and love.
God made me to do this. It really does come easily to me and provides great joy and fulfillment. Ideas, sharing, and relationships are another way to describe it.
Happy New Year! I wish you peace with God which will give you peace with yourself and everyone around you. May God bless you in 2019.