Bloated from five weeks of overextending our appetites and our schedules, this is the day we’ll make steely promises to change everything.
We’ll head back to the gym. We’ll treat carbs like poison-filled containers of death. Sugar? We’re done with you, you bastard. Some of us may even start a rigorous detox program where we subsist on nothing but water, brussels sprouts, and fava beans.
Our pants don’t fit anymore, so making resolutions on January 1st comes easily.
Let me be your coach.
My first command: Just stop it right now. You’re being ridiculous. Yes, you’ve overextended yourself and you feel gross. Yes, some changes may be necessary. Yes, some of us could probably lose a few pounds. Yes, it’s good to be healthy.
But let’s back up. Be honest: Is your primary goal this year to be thinner? Do you believe you will be a fundamentally more joy filled, more loving person if you are thinner? You will be thinner if you are thinner. So hit the gym! Start an exercise program! You’ll feel better! But there are so many more things to do with your one wild and precious life.
If I’m your coach, this is my coaching plan:
First of all, I think it’s a complete waste of time to start with what you’re going to cut out. You’ll need to cut some things out, but that comes later.
Instead, ask yourself: This year, what could I do that would bring more joy to my life?
What do you want to learn? What do you want to try? What do you really want more of? Is there anything that sounds like doing it just might save your life?
Some of you might want to take an art class this year. You’ve always loved creating beautiful things, but you are simply too busy with… wait for it… email. So – delete your entire inbox RIGHT NOW and start over. This is called declaring email bankruptcy, and it’s awesome. Do it. Less responding to everybody’s urgent requests means more joy. It’s a win-win.
Some of you might want to start a group based on doing something fun together. Pick six people and brew great beer or make delicious food. Or read an incredible book. Or watch thought provoking movies. Then, crack open a bottle of wine and talk. Laugh. Enjoy each other.
Some of you might want to be a mentor this year. Those 2 hours per week (or month) are one of the best investments you can make, and you might be surprised how fulfilling it is. If you live in the Twin Cities, you might consider starting with this great organization. Or mentor someone in your church. Or do it on your own.
Some of you might want to run a marathon this year. Seriously. You can do it. Doing something challenging can be unbelievably joyful.
Now, once you’ve made your list, then by all means, pick some things you’re going to cut out. But not before first making a list of enjoyable or challenging or good-for-the-world things that you will do.
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I’ll go out on a limb and share some of things I’m doing this year. This is my list, not your list. I tend to feel joy by trying things that are challenging. If you’re not like that, don’t copy my list.
I’m writing a book. I’ve written three chapters, and I’ve signed a contract with a great agent named Christopher Ferebee. We’re in the final stages of drafting the proposal, and we hope to shop it around to some publishers in early 2014. It could fail miserably. But I’m so excited I can hardly think about anything else.
I’m going to coach people to run a marathon this fall as a spiritual pilgrimage. I’ve run ten marathons, and every one of them has been a significant spiritual experience for me. So, this year, I’m going to gather a group of people and coach them through a training program that includes physical challenges as well as spiritual conversations. I’m not totally sure what it will look like yet, but it will be for people who want to run a fall marathon in 2014 as a spiritual pilgrimage. I hope some of them are first time marathoners.
I want to spend some time this year learning to surf. I grew up in California near the ocean, and I miss it (plus, it’s 10 below zero in Minnesota as I’m writing this). I don’t know how this will happen. It feels nearly impossible. But who knows! It feels like joy.
Happy New Year, everybody. Here’s to more joy.