When your birthday falls in the month of January, your thoughts about the coming year typically kick in on the day you blow out your candles, rather than the day the ball drops in NYC. For me, that may be because my mind can’t be bothered with personal reflections when I have personal party planning to attend to.
Just kidding. Kind of.
There’s something about turning another year older that gets you to take a look at your life and assess if you’re where you want to be; doing what you feel you should do; living the life you want to live.
You stand over your birthday cake, candle lights glowing up at you, surrounded by people you love. You hear the voices starting to sing the familiar tune… “Happy birthday to you…” and a smile stretches across your face.
They reach the end of the song and a few start to shout “make a wish!” You close your eyes and for a few seconds, the world plays itself in slow motion. The background fades into dark and you see only the glow before you, representing the illumination of your life. You latch on to the wish that surfaces in your mind as your lungs fill with oxygen and for a moment you grasp it tightly before letting it go with a giant exhale.
And poof – just like that, the beginnings of a new year surround you like smoke from the candles.
With good intent, loved ones throw the question at you, “what do you want to accomplish in your XXth year?!”
If you’re like me, you pause as you search deep in your mind for a genuine goal, pushing aside initial thoughts like “umm…think less about pizza?”
Stuffed crust aside, if I had to answer honestly, I think I would say ownership.
I want to grasp and live out a greater sense of ownership.
The older I get, the more I realize that there are two categories for things we long for in our lives: wishes and goals.
Wishes are for that which is often out of our control. Physical healing. Fertility. Mr/Mrs. Right.
Wishes keep us up at night and can drive us crazy because for the life of us, we just can’t (always) control them. We pray and we hope, but we must learn how to live our life in the midst of unmet longings.
And then there are goals for that which we desire to achieve in life. Actionable steps that are possible to take. Decisions we personally make. Behaviors we can change. Desired goals are rarely easy, but they are often largely within our control.
You see, I notice that my mind often falls prey to a scheme in our culture around ownership. We are flooded with self-help books and coaching businesses that play to the voice in our head that tells us there is some secret formula out there that will be the key to our success. That if we can just get our hands on that one special health plan, or that one pill, or that new savings plan, or that one magical workout routine, then BOOM! We will have found the secret to attainable goals.
Not that all of these products and methods are worthless, but the subliminal lie wrapped up in many of them is that our ability to reach our goal is dependent on something else.
Dependent on a coach. Dependent on a product. Dependent on someone first reaching out to you.
Dependency eliminates the need to be responsible for our actions. And we like that. I like that. Because it always offers us an excuse and an ability to shift the blame.
But the truth is, our ability to reach our goals first lies within ourselves.
I’m not saying we don’t need support, accountability, guidance, or partnership, but I am saying that step one is recognizing that the main determining factor of success is you.
You will decide how much you want it. You will decide what it is worth to you. And once you are truly ready to fight for it, you will take the first step. And then the next.
I hate coming to terms with this, because for me it’s a call to action. There are many things I don’t wholeheartedly want, and so I therefore don’t truly push for. And in many cases, I’m okay with that.
My abs aren’t “shredded” and they probably never will be. I could suck in and contort my body in all sorts of weird ways for mirror selfies, but I will never be “insta-fit-famous”. (Thank you Jesus and please pass a slice). Moderation is the game I claim.
I will not be impressing anyone any time soon with my outdoorsy skills and daringly adventurous spirit. And I’d bet a lot of money on the fact that I most likely never will. I am 110% okay with that.
But as I stood above all my glowing birthday candles last weekend, I looked inward for my wish and two things came to mind:
Lord, heal my daddy. (Which He did…so I’m allowed to share that “wish” then, right?)
And Lord, help me to live this life you’ve given me to the fullest. And as I wished this, it was if I felt Him take my hand in His and say “My dear, this would be my great joy. Now take the next step.”
So in my 28th year, I want to take the next step. And own it.
– Tiny Fisch