Now that we’ve entered a new decade, there are for sure going to be major goals set.
Each year, right around Christmas, many of us create goals for the new year. Things we want to accomplish, numbers we want to hit at work, and many more.
Except, the only thing is: we very rarely accomplish these goals.
Have you ever wondered why this is?
We usually just chalk it up to a few options:
I’m not very disciplined
I’m not smart enough to accomplish that goal
I give up too quickly
There are more, but most of them are focused on our inability to follow through on our goals.
But what if it isn’t our inability to follow through but actually that we’re setting course for the wrong direction in the first place?
You see, goals are black or white, yes or no, checked or unchecked boxes. Goals are stale, not very dynamic. Therefore, our ability to accomplish a goal is also stale, not very dynamic.
Either I lost the weight or I didn’t. Either I hit those quarterly numbers or I didn’t. I accomplished my goal or I didn’t.
This means that if I didn’t accomplish my goal, I’ve failed.
And we all know how well we handle failure...or is it just me?
With a goal, there’s no room for struggle or figuring out how to accomplish it. There’s no room for us to improve or problem-solve with our goals. It’s a pass/fail system.
So we should just give up on trying to accomplish big things?
Instead of goals, let’s try something else. Rhythms.
Rhythms are not black or white, pass or fail.
As Jefferson Bethke said,
Goals are about what practices I’m doing...formations (rhythms) are who I am becoming through the practices I’m doing.To Hell With The Hustle, Jefferson Bethke
In 2020, I don’t want to focus on what I do but on who I’m becoming.
Here are three steps to creating rhythms in your life that will last a lifetime and truly help you become who God created you to be.
You ever heard the saying, “Start small?”
Well, there’s tons of wisdom in this small saying.
When working to create new healthy rhythms, it’s wise to start small.
If you are someone who struggles with food or weight issues, instead of starting with a big goal of losing 50 pounds, what if you decided to implement 10 healthy meals a week? This is less than two healthy meals a day for the week.
Now, I know that health coaches and other health nuts might disagree with me, but what if instead of going for broke, we took small steps toward a goal weight? Implementing a small rhythm to help us reach our goals?
Has anyone seen the movie, What About Bob?, with Bill Murray? If you haven’t, I probably couldn’t suggest a movie more!
Bill’s character, Bob, is struggling with all sorts of issues and because of it, he seeks out a psychiatrist, Dr. Leo Marvin. Obviously, this being a comedy, lots of craziness happens along the path of Bob becoming a better, more secure man.
When Bob meets with Dr. Marvin (played by Richard Dreyfuss) for the first time, he gives Bob two simple words that...well, it’ll be much more enjoyable if you just watch it:
Dr. Marvin tells Bob to set “small, reasonable goals.”
When setting up new rhythms for health in the new year, let’s start small.
Think: baby steps.
I grew up around sports. From a very early age, I was playing basketball, baseball, football, and soccer. I would play them on a daily basis.
One great blessing of being around sports all day long is your body becomes attuned to different motions and movements that lend themselves, when practiced effectively, to being successful on the playing field.
All the way through elementary, middle, and high school, I was blessed with the ability to run very fast. I have always been. I don’t know what made me fast, I don’t know why I’m fast. I just know that I’ve always been fast.
I know, it probably sounds like I’m puffing myself up, but I’m setting up a point, so stay with me.
Fast-forward a decade or so––I graduated from college and in so, ended my athletic career. I was in pretty good shape and retained my speed throughout my playing days. But now, almost a decade later, I’m not quite in the same shape as I was.
Am I fast today? Eh...I’m not willing to put much money on it.
Now, I’m not in shape. I’ll admit it.
I do not exercise on a daily basis. Not even on a weekly basis, if I’m being honest. And because of this, I’m not as fast as I once was. So, if I wanted to regain my speed of days long lost, I’d need to put in some work and training. I’d need to build my speed back up to what it once was.
What does that work or training look like?
Here’s what it doesn’t look like: waking up in the morning at 5:00 am, not doing any stretching, and then going on a full-out sprint for two miles. That’s a recipe for disaster and at least four pulled muscles (and that’s just in one of my legs).
If I wanted to build back up my speed, I’d need to start slow. Maybe I’d start going on a walk each day for a few weeks, get the blood pumping back in my legs. And then after that, spend a couple of weeks jogging, very lightly, and paying attention to when my body has had enough. Then after that, continue to build more and more muscles and endurance. Eventually, I’d be able to do longer and faster movements, all building up to doing sprints.
I think we need to approach our rhythms this way. Whether it’s a brand new rhythm or one you’ve had in your life previously, we need to start slow.
We can’t just jump into any new rhythm full speed and expect it to go smoothly. We’ll end up with pulled muscles and a lack of desire to continue the rhythm. Nobody wants to go sprinting on a pulled muscle, so why would we want to continue a rhythm that’s already worn us out?
We have to pace ourselves and create habits that establish a foundation of endurance, then begin to pick up speed over time. We have to trust that the slow work we do now will enable us to do more work later.
There’s another saying out there in the world, “Don’t work harder, work smarter.” This means that in order to get more done or to be more effective, we don’t just have to work more, we need to work differently. We need to work smarter.
I’ve learned that my internal processor is always running at a million-miles-per-minute. This means that I’m very quick on my feet and always have ideas. This is great for my job! But what this also means is that I’m super scatter-brained and can get off topic unbelievably quickly.
Just the other day, I opened up a new window on my internet browser to do something for social media. I opened up Facebook and saw a post on my feed that triggered a thought about another task I’ve been wanting to do. So, I opened up another window and started on that task. As I was doing that task, I had another thought about another thing I wanted to do, so what did I do? I opened up another window.
You can see where this is going.
About 15 minutes later, I opened an extra 15 windows on my browser and had only accomplished one task. And it wasn’t the task I started out with. I had this moment where I looked at the other 14 windows and asked, “How did I get here?”
This happens to me ALMOST EVERY DAY.
In order to curb my scattered nature, last year I implemented a daily planner that helps me stay on task. I’ve seen lots of fruit from it.
One of the greatest elements to the planner is how it helps me flesh out what my priorities are for the year. One piece to this is identifying what domain of life my goals/rhythms are in.
It lists out options of domains. Here are some: spiritual, parental, intellectual, emotional, relational, vocational, physical, marital, or financial.
As I’m entering into this new decade, I’m realizing that one of the best ways to create long-lasting rhythms that will reap benefits for years to come is to create smart rhythms.
Smart rhythms are ones that mesh well and overlap in similar domains of life.
So, here are the rhythms I want to implement in 2020:
Being off my phone consistently (way too much time wasted on that thing)
Being more present (at home, at work, and with friends)
Being in the Bible daily (usually as a part of my morning routine)
Being more gracious (and not being judgmental, which I am obnoxiously so)
What I have found as I’ve written these out is that they have overlap in one major domain of my life.
In 2020, I’m wanting to focus on my relationships. My relationship with my wife and son, my relationship with the Lord, and my relationships in my community.
Being off my phone will help me be more present.
Being more present, I can invest better quality time with God.
Better quality time with God helps me see what I need to work on.
Being aware of what I need to work on helps me be more gracious to others.
These rhythms, as I’ve experienced recently, create a beautiful synchrony and bring a balance to who I want to become. They are not disconnected goals or rhythms that will duel with each other for dominance. These rhythms are working together, fueling each other, helping me become the man I want to be.
I’m creating rhythms that don’t help me work harder. I’m creating rhythms that help me work smarter.
What rhythms do you want to create in the new year? What areas of life do you see needed change?
Whatever it is you’ve decided to focus on in 2020, start small. Then, give yourself time to create the rhythm. Go slow and allow a foundation to be built so that the rhythm can become second nature in life. And identify rhythms that are smart, working together and fueling one another so that momentum is created toward the YOU God made you to be.
Trevor is the Marketing & Communications Director at Pure Desire Ministries. He has been in ministry leadership for 10 years. Trevor is a licensed pastor and has a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Corban University. He is passionate about people understanding that sexual and emotional health is possible.