The launch of a brand new decade has no doubt caused us all to stop and consider the crazy phenomenon of the passage of time. What were you doing a decade ago? Where were you a decade ago? Who were you a decade ago? A decade = 10 years = 120 months = 520 weeks = 3,650 days = 87,600 hours = 5,256,000 minutes = 315,360,000 seconds. This New Year’s Eve as James and I sat on the couch in our pajamas watching Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest host the Times Square happenings, we couldn’t help but laugh at how different our celebration was 10 years ago. Not three feet away on a bookshelf stood a framed picture to commemorate the moment. I was a senior in college, we were 6 months from being married, and we were all dressed up in a roomful of friends, wearing party hats, dancing and singing along at the top of our lungs to Prince’s famous words, “Tonight We’re G onna Party Like It’s 1999”, with silver metallic numbers “2000” decorating the entire room. 10 years ago, the future was bright, the world was at our fingertips, and we didn’t have a care in the world.
Now, we’ve got a house payment, a toddler, and a closet full of clothes that used to fit. Yes, we partied our way into 2000…and we yawned our way into 2010. But the funny thing is, I wouldn’t go back and trade it for the world. As I watched my son sleeping on the monitor and my husband “tweeting” his New Year wishes, there wasn’t a place I’d rather be. If we could rewind and do things differently, I think we would all make different choices, based on the lessons we’ve learned. I’ve made more stupid mistakes than I can count, and some of them cost me dearly – both financially and emotionally. Some of my mistakes hurt other people, and some of my mistakes I’m still paying for. Of course, we can’t go back, but we can choose to move forward. We all have a clean slate before us, beginning in 2010. What will you ch oose to write on yours?
This is so much bigger than the cliché of annual resolutions that are forgotten by Valentine’s Day. It’s about a deep-seated desire to continually change and grow into our potential, into our purpose, into the person God created us to be. The challenge, of course, is that becoming that person depends on our choices. We must make the proactive choices that defy human nature. Remember, human nature isn’t on our side. Human nature is lazy, apathetic, narcissistic, naïve, and always takes the path of least resistance. Human nature’s inclination is to do as little as possible to get what we want. So, to combat and overcome those internal inclinations, we must be aware of and alert to the fact that living in response to our feelings and emotions will lead us straight to destruction. I have rarely felt like getting off the couch or turning off the TV. I have rarely felt like getting up at 5 AM or passing on chips and queso. I have rarely felt like lacing up my running shoes or making one more business call. I have rarely felt like saying “no” to the stores and stores of beautiful clothes, shoes, and purses that call my name from the mall.
Gosh, when you stop and think about it, it would practically take a hero to make those kind of iron-strength choices every day. But, guess what? That’s exactly what you can be. A practical hero. An everyday hero. A hero within. Sound silly? Of course it does! But wouldn’t you feel more inclined to make the right decisions if you were running around with a red cape and super powers? So, throw on the cape – at least at home – and step into that power of potential that already lies within you.
Last week, James and I conducted our third Annual Review. (For more details on conducting your own Annual Review, see the 12/24/08 edition of the Digging Deeper archives.) There were two things about this particular session that stood out to me. First of all, heading into a brand new decade caused me to go back and analyze what I want to change from the past one. Of the past 10 years, if I had to give a painfully honest assessment, I would say that I lived four of them proactively and six of them reactively. The sad – and shocking – piece of that revelation to me was that I easily thought that at least two more of those reactive years were proactive while I was living them. But, from a hindsight perspective, the results of those years speak for themselves. It really is sho cking to see how blind we can be to our own naïveté and apathy. And, the second thing of note that struck me during our Annual Review was the insight that tracking can provide. Because we had now conducted this session for three years in a row, we were able to go back and document our performance against our plans in 2007, 2008, and 2009. We were able to see patterns and trends of poor decisions along with wiser ones. And we were able to learn from those patterns and trends as we head into 2010.
As we looked back at our past three years of documented goals and activity, it was rewarding to look at our progress and humbling to study our errors. But, the thing that stands out to me most about the past decade is the wonder of Father Time. We’ve all ticked through the past 5.2 million minutes, and God willing, we’ll tick through at least that many more. So, when this decade winds to an end, what story do you want yours to tell? As those seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years tick by, a few of them will be momentous and noteworthy. But most of them will be humdrum and forgettable. And believe it or not, it’s those most forgettable days that define an everyday hero. It’s the most humdrum hours that separate a victory from a loss. Because in those un-notable moments, we either get swept away by the current of human nature – or we don’t.
The past decade may have been horrific, fabulous, or just so-so for you. You may desire a complete turnaround in this new season. Or, perhaps you just want to keep building on your progress from the past. To create different results, we must approach our situation differently. Whether you need a quantum leap or just incremental improvement, your future results depend on how you handle you. How you handle yourself today, and how you handle yourself tomorrow, and the day after that. There’s no magic formula or magic pill. The cape may give you confidence, but the hero is already there. You hold the power of change, but you must turn the key daily to unleash that power. Ignore the naysayers, and stop playing that broken record of past defeats and unkept promises to yourself in your head. My prayer for all of us this year is Deuteronomy 33:25. May God work such steadfastness of mind in you that “the bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days”.
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