So yes, last week I told you that while New Years resolutions are so good and so helpful, we don’t need a new year in order to make them. What if we sat down in the middle of September and asked ourselves, what needs some tweaking? But here we are, at the “beginning” of our year and so we do, out of habit mostly, ask ourselves what we could change or quit or improve.
I had a conversation with a friend before the holidays that sparked some inspiration for me in this area. We talked about framing our lives and needs and goals in the context of “more or less.” My students had a speaker this fall talk to them similarly about the idea of “adding and subtracting.” I’m practicing asking myself each morning, What do I need more/less of today?
This is good for several reasons. One, when we start goal setting we typically are just saying “more!!” We want to do more, see more, talk more, invest more, on and on and on. The only way we usually say “less” is if we want to quit something entirely, which, let’s be real, is rarely successful. Less cigarettes! Less alcohol! Less Netflix! And then we inevitably binge on any of these things.
Just as there is a no for every yes, there is a less for every more. You don’t want one without the other. It is similar to how we as Christians often approach Lent. We remove something, but we are supposed to fill that “gap” with a more dedicated seeking of relationship with Christ. If all we are concerned with is “less chocolate,” we are wasting our time.
Second, I understand trying to frame goals and give guidelines so we know how to measure our success or failure. But something about this feels really manageable and more of an invitation rather than a performance review. It is easier for me, in the midst of a hard moment or hard day, to say to myself: more what? Less what?
I love viewing life through the concept of space. We are not in control of a whole lot in this life, but we do get a say in this. We are all given so much space, and we choose what we will fill it with. This is true of our time, but it is true of our hearts and minds as well. We choose what we will give thought to, or what emotions we will allow to change or fill our hearts. When we obsess and focus on one thing and give it all our space, it will own us. So we get to choose what we will fill our lives with. What do we want more of? To what do we want to give less space?
Here are some things on our list so far:
- More fun
- Less drama
- More honesty
- Less hiding
- More courage
- Less comparison
- More celebration
- Less (sad) tears
- More truth
- Less scarcity
- More freedom
- Less keeping score
- More childlike wonder
- Less “keeping it together”
- More Scripture
- Less of other people’s opinions
I think maybe this could be an easier way for all of us to look at our lives and figure out what we want as we move forward. It doesn’t have to be hard math – let’s just do simple addition and subtraction. What is good that you want more of? And what isn’t so helpful that maybe you can remove? In the past few weeks or months, what are the things that have been life-giving for you? Who have been the people who have shown up and supported you and loved you well? I’ve found that question particularly enlightening lately. To what have you given too much time or heart-space?
Make a list right now – 3 things you want more of and 3 things you want less of. (And then tell me what they are!!)
We can’t always know exactly what specific goals we want to achieve, but we can pretty easily identify what we want filling our space and what we would rather not have taking up room.
It makes starting a new year feel easier to me. I wrote it on my bathroom mirror: What do you need less/more of today? It will help me in the hard moments to refocus and give space to better things, and will also help me recognize in the good and beautiful moments of what I need to pursue even more.
This world is full of clutter; our culture tells us to just fill fill fill our minds and hearts with all sorts of useless things. So what is it, friend, that actually matters to you? What do you want your life to have more or less of?