Focusing on What’s Important This Year

As I looked at the last year and made plans for the new one I came away with a super long list of things I wanted to improve for our family—because now that it’s January 1st we will magically change into this super family with perfect children always wearing matching clothes and smiling all the time.  Everything on our To Do list will be instantly completed.  We’ll be like those families I read blogs about who are building homes for the poor while their 8 year old earns a Bachelors Degree.  Because, you know, it’s January and this all magically happens, right?

But seriously as I looked back at year I saw that there was a lot to be proud of.  We were happy overall–that alone is a huge accomplishment to celebrate.  And we went through some very big life changes–buying a house, my husband’s retirement from the military and start a new job, our family getting settled for somewhat permanent life.  We helped others and had fun together and somewhere along the way my children became more educated.  But I also felt like we were so busy last year but not necessarily getting done what we wanted.  It seems like we were reacting to things instead of being proactive.  Too often we were rushing around and were tired but didn’t always have a lot to show for it.

Too often we were doing things because I thought it was the “right thing.”  Because if I didn’t do it, who would?  Because I didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.  Because others expected us to.  Because we hadn’t made a better plan.  Because we had waited until the last minute.

I realize as I look back, we need to be more purposeful in choosing how to spend our time, and with that we will hopefully have more time for the things that are truly important.

I was wasting huge amounts of time and then we were rushing to get caught up.  And in agreeing to things maybe I didn’t want to do, I was becoming bitter and overwhelmed.  And my kids were paying the price.

And so, as I go into the new year, I am not making a list of resolutions or outcomes I want, but instead I have made a list of questions to ask myself.  Before committing to something, before I make the family schedule, before choosing how to spend my time, I will ask myself these four questions…

 

And you notice “Is this good for others?” isn’t on the list.  I of course would like to be a better friend and volunteer in my community even more.  But in this season of my life, when I looked at where we’ve gotten off track, I realized I need to focus less on others and more on my immediate family.  I can’t worry if I’ll hurt someone’s feelings if I can’t go to their event or give their child a ride.  I can’t worry about what others think of me, either in real life or on social media.  And I can’t do things simply because others expect me to do it, even if that means it doesn’t get done.  But the biggest part of all is that I can’t feel guilty for saying this and drawing these boundaries.

I started this a bit at the end of this past year.  Yes it was hard for me.  I know I let some people down and I felt huge amounts of guilt for it.  But in saying “no” to others and “yes” to myself more, I was happier and had more time with my kids.  I’m not saying to become totally selfish or reclusive or walk around hurting people’s feeling, just that it’s okay to focus inward more and outward less, especially when committing time, energy, or finances.

And so as we move into a new year and a new decade and a new page for our family, my goal is to be more purposeful and in doing so hopefully help us to bring more peace AND productivity to our lives.

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