Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014. Hello 2015!

I am thankful to have experienced another year of life. I returned to work in higher education, ran another half-marathon, spent Christmas with my sisters, and continued my journey toward a PhD. If you know me well, you know that I am always talking about "those three things." Whatever goals or thoughts you have, boiling it down to "three things" makes it all seem manageable and meaningful. Once you begin to manage it and make meaning of can accomplish it. 

I don't make New Year's resolutions so I typically take the time before the new year begins to set three major life goals. Before I set my personal life goals, I reflect on my actions of the past year and review my principles of behavior at home, work, and in my community. 

1. Avoid toxic people. I am generally a positive person. But sometimes I lose my joy. In 2015, I want to be deliberate in avoiding toxic conversations which are joy stealers. It takes courage to refuse to participate in conversations where others constantly criticize, judge, or discourage. I seek to avoid being the person who initiates these conversations, participates or even passively listens to them. I want to surround myself with positive, growing, intelligent, vibrant people. I will redirect or intentionally avoid toxicity. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best, "Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people." What are the majority of your conversations about? Ideas? events? or people? 

2. Develop broader circles closer to home.  I continue to observe young adults and church groups going on "mission" trips to Africa or even tourist destinations like Dubai and Paris for "mission" work. It all sounds so noble. I have watched as Facebook friends adopt foreign babies yet do not have friendships with a person of another nationality within their own church or personal circles. While there are great needs in other countries, we have a lot of work to do right here in the United States. My heart yearns for our society to focus less on external differences such as gender and race. In 2015, I hope we can all have more expansive minds and initiate conversations or friendships with people outside our typical comfort zones. This is how we will grow and find new answers to old problems. I hope to continue to have healthy, growing, diverse friendships within my own backyard.

3. Stop assuming. Many of us have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts. The snapshot of someone's life on Facebook may cause you to think your life is not perfect. Just remember, social media allows us to share only the positive highlights. Life outside our smartphones and computer screens may be vastly different from what's posted online. In 2015, I want to spend more time talking to people. I want to build deeper, more meaningful relationships personally and professionally. Lasting relationships are always made stronger in person. If you really want to know about a person or gain true perspective, talk to them. Don't assume you know anything about someone because of what you see of their life on Facebook or Instagram. 

As 2015 looms near, I hope to intentionally practice the principles and concepts that demonstrate my greater calling, Christian faith, and acknowledgement of that which is bigger than myself. I find this especially important at work and when leading or participating in any type of team situation. Perhaps we should all be mindful about basic tenets like: forgiveness, honesty, encouragement, grace, and kindness. How do you consistently apply your beliefs at work, home, in school, or where ever you are? 

Find a quiet place this week, grab a cup of tea and in a mindset of calm, write out three goals or even three words that guide your intentions for 2015. I am always hopeful things will get better every year I am alive. It starts with me...and you. Let's go.