Whew! It’s that time again: my annual “new year’s” post! 2011 was packed with so much, flying by so fast that I hardly know where to start! There are a lot of things that I accomplished in 2011 that I’m really proud of and want to carry forward in 2012 but in order to explain it all with justice, I have to go somewhere that I’ve only touched on briefly before: my faith.
As I’ve alluded to in other post, my faith in God as a Christian has been a huge source of strength and inspiration to me. Whether it was coming out of the mess I made with school and my finances or even with my goals, if it weren’t for God and the wisdom I have received from the Bible over the past few years, I am certain that I would be certifiably crazy!
If you notice in the last sentence, I said “over the past few years” because I’ve only recently gave my life to Christ. Although I was raised in a Christian household and my Dad even became a pastor during my teenage years, I never fully understood the Christian message growing up. As a person who considers herself an “intellectual”, I faced a lot of inner conflict when it came to Jesus, so I embarked on a spiritual and intellectual “soul search” during the first 3 years of college, professing only to believe in God but not necessarily the God of the Bible. It wasn’t until right before I turned 21 that a series of crazy circumstance that only God could orchestrate brought me to a place where Jesus was the only thing that made sense and the only thing that I wanted. I’ll leave my testimony at that since a lot of the stuff that brought me there is personal, but I wanted to make my background known so that you understand the beliefs powering my perspective, even if yours are different.
As I described in my 2011 “new year’s” post, my focus for last year was not necessarily on goals but on good habits that would eventually lead to the outcomes I was looking for. One of the first habits that I successfully “ingrained” was getting up to read my bible every morning. Although I did (and still do) have days where I wake up too late to do this or I miss for some other reason, I got into the routine enough where I was (and still am) amazed at all the wisdom I was gleaning, even from just a chapter a day. In fact, I’d say understanding biblical concepts and allowing them to influence how I live and look at life was the single greatest theme for me in 2011. Based on that, these are the philosophies that influenced the habits/goals I am putting into practice for 2012:
Money. When it comes to money, I am now focusing more on how I manage it and how generous I am with it versus pursuing more money just for money’s sake. Last year, I received a lot of wonderful financial blessings (which I will detail in part 2 of this post) that made me realize that I am already exceedingly financially blessed, especially for a college student. God has never not provided for my needs, so instead of making random goals to earn more money “just because” I want to point my energy towards managing it properly and being generous to those less fortunate.
Last year, especially with the passing of Steve Jobs, I realized that I want to focus more on making meaning with my work over making money. This is not to say the two are mutually exclusive; at least in business, money does tend to follow those that create the most value for others. The point is that money should follow meaning as a by-product, not the other way around.
Fitness. Similarly to my shift in perspective on money, I no longer want to approach working out for vanity’s sake. I’ll admit this will be hard to put in practice because Lord knows I would loooove to have a six-pack, but I really want to move away from working out to make my body look good versus working out to be healthy and experience all that my body can do.
These may be extreme comparisons, but when I start to obsess over small physical “flaws” that need to be “fixed” in the gym, I think of women who with disabilities, women who deal with illness, women who battle obesity, or even women who are enduring physical or sexual abuse. Every day, there are millions women in this world who’s bodies are prevented from operating at the level of health and freedom that I get to experience. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with looking good or even desiring to look good, but I want to keep “looks” in its proper place. I’d rather have a six pack as a by-product of me being a healthy, athletic person than because I crash-dieted and worked out excessively to get it.
Achievement. My ambition is probably where I’ve had the biggest mental shift. This is huge for me because I’ve placed a lot of mental energy, even to the point of breakdowns, into “accomplishment”. Over the course of reading the Bible and praying in 2011, “Self-Actualization”, for me, is now successfully using whatever platform I have to (1) give God glory and (2) help others. That’s it. It doesn’t matter how many goals I reach or targets I hit—if I’m not doing those two things then I’m not doing what’s important.
As a recovering perfectionist/self-help addict/goal-obsessed person, this is so freeing for me. I feel free because I can now pursue goals without freaking out if I don’t hit them perfectly, because I know (like money) they are a means to an end, but not the end themselves. If my goals are all I have in life, then it makes sense for me to obsess over them and fret if they aren’t accomplished perfectly. However, if my dreams and aspirations are merely vehicles to show everyone how great God is and help people achieve greater meaning in their lives, then all the slip ups, missed opportunities and imperfect execution is okay because at the end of the day, I still accomplished what I *really* set out to do.
So that, ladies and gents, is as succinctly as I could explain the “recalibration” that took place in 2011. Just consider this my 2011 brain, squished into a blog post as neatly as possible. Coming soon is more of a “nut and bolts” post describing specifically what I did and didn’t do in 2011, as well as the habits I’m working on for 2012.
Where is your mind at now that we are out of 2011? Have any mental shifts taken place for you? Share in the comments section.