Regretting the past and reflecting on it are two drastically different things. One is laced with guilt and shame while the other is overflowing with wisdom and hope. You see, the past can give you hope, but you can’t hope in the past. Knowing the difference is essential.
For much of my life I was so eager to hit the reset button on another year that I failed to spend time in quiet reflection. But a few years ago, I made the commitment to invest in myself during the final days of each year. I spend time with my journals, I pray through my struggles, I reflect in gratitude all that God has done and I begin creating a vision for the future.
Now this isn’t some formulaic process that I’m going to sell you for X dollars. It’s just my simple way to encourage you to spend some time investing in you. If you don’t want to end up in the same place next year, take some time to walk through this with me.
Start 2018 well by finishing 2017.
Rediscover Who You Are
2017 was the year when I was finally willing to be honest with myself about some of the sneaking strongholds in my life. Strongholds that were still keeping me captive. One of those strongholds was the opinions of others. For far too long, I lived my life based on the opinions of others. As a natural people pleaser, I wanted everyone to walk away happy. And for years, I sabotaged my own happiness to make sure that others were happy.
In 2017, I took a trip to Scotland with my Dad, my brother and a few close friends. It was an incredibly difficult decision for me for a variety of reasons—I didn’t want to leave my kids, I don’t do well on long plane flights, I couldn’t miss that much work, etc. And to be honest, not everyone agreed with my decision. But that’s exactly why I needed to go.
Going to Scotland was a decision that helped me wrestle with the reality that I can’t please everyone. But that’s because I’m not supposed to. To be honest, Scotland wasn’t my idea, it was my Dad’s. It was his bucket list trip. And as I prayed about going, I felt like God encouraged me to spend time with my Dad. So I went in a response to what I felt like God was saying.
But in hindsight, God wanted me to go to Scotland for me.
For the first time in my life, I didn’t have to be somebody. I didn’t have to be dad, I didn’t have to be insurance man, I didn’t have to be the entertainment, I didn’t have to be anybody but me. It was refreshing and empowering.
Getting away from all of the noise and all of the congestion helped me remind me of who I really am. It was a reconnecting with the best parts of me and a shedding the facade. I suppose I finally realized that if you’re not willing to work on yourself and be yourself, you’re not much good to other people.
People need the best version of you and that takes really getting to know who you are. You don’t have to go to Scotland, but you do need to get away from the noise. That might be a weekend, it might be an afternoon and it might be a few early mornings back to back. But whatever you do, rediscover who you are.
God doesn’t make junk, He only makes genius. It’s time for you to realize your genius and let it loose in the world. More importantly, you’ll never discover who you are as long as you’re trying to be the person that everyone else wants you to be.
Productivity Isn’t the Goal
My word for the year was (courageous) patience. What I learned is that patience is less about the external time it takes and more about the deep internal trust that God is as good as He says He is. And courage is more about the willingness to move forward when the external results doesn’t seem to meet the world’s expectations.
In a world that focuses more on external accomplishment and productivity, much of this year was internal and unrecognized. But what I’ve learned is this: that is where God does his greatest work.
This year, I realized that deep relationships are greater than accomplishments. Conversations over coffee are more impactful that hundreds of thousands of blog readers. Speaking encouragement into the lives of others is more rewarding than selling a product. And being a husband to my wife, Liz, and a father to my four children is far more impactful than speaking on a stage to millions of people.
As you learn who you are, you’ll see that what God is doing through you is more important that what you have done. And when the world tries to steal your joy because the external results aren’t there, remember that preparation and patience are absolutely necessary for sustained growth and abundance.
Let God do the slow, deep work. In the end, He gets the credit and the glory instead of us robbing Him by reveling in all that we think we’ve done.
The One-Page Summary
In the video below, I walk through how I create a one-page summary of my year and cast a vision for the year ahead. I also discuss the process of selecting my one word for the upcoming year. Take a few minutes to connect with my Facebook page and watch the video.
Below the video is a summary of 2017.
The Year in Review
In 2017, we had more than 39,000 visitors to the website and I shared 28 new articles. That makes more than 350 articles and more than 300,000 visitors to the site since we launched in 2013. I’m still humbled that people take the time to read and share and it’s a true blessing to connect.
For those who may be new or those who may have missed a few posts, I have listed the top 10 articles below.
10. 5 Reasons Why We Need Less Social Media in 2018
9. What to do When the Boat is Sinking | Thoughts on Honesty, Control, and Letting Go
8. Lessons From Dad’s Hospital Bedside
7. The Abundance of God
6. Dear Christians, Stop Arguing About The Shack
5. Three People You Need in Your Life
4. Overcoming Anxiety
3. What Taylor Swift’s New Song is Really Saying
2. A Mom of Four and Her Road to Recovery
1. Yes, They Serve Omelets in Heaven