Every year I have a passing thought that New Year’s might just be my favorite holiday. Not because it is the most special, or the most fun (Christmas wins my vote in those two categories), but because of the opportunity that it provides for a fresh start. I just love new beginnings. I have a bad habit of procrastination so New Year’s is the perfect time to dive back into all of the things or habits that I have been meaning to do or reintegrate into my life, but just haven’t gotten around to yet.
I realize that you might be a little anti-resolution. Forbes says that only 8% of people achieve their resolutions, so there’s good reason for pessimism in this area. Whether you share my love for resolutions or not, what really counts is what we do with our lives as a whole. It’s a daily drop in the bucket which adds up to one complete legacy- something we all leave behind whether we want to or not. Below is something that I wrote the night before I turned 30. I hope that it encourages you to make the most of each day and now is as good a day as any to start!
Tomorrow I turn thirty.
I’ve been trying for the last week, without success, to map out all of my goals for this next chapter of my life– the things I want to accomplish before my self-imposed big 40th birthday deadline. However, this mapping-out has proven to be problematic, because I am totally unsure of when (inside the scope of a 10-year-span) I should pencil in these activities.
Then it finally hit me. I have the right idea, but I am missing the point. Although I absolutely need my goals and corresponding plan of action, my time table is all wrong. This isn’t some school project, marketing proposal or financial plan that I am working on. This is my life. I do not have the privilege of planning things on a 10-year margin and assuming that I will be standing at that finish line to congratulate myself on a job well done. All that I have is today.
Case in point: when I was a child, I teased my dad that I couldn’t wait for his 40th birthday because I was going to recite the standard “Lordy, lordy! Look who’s 40!” to him as he blew out his candles. If you know me at all, you know how that story ends. At 39 and a half, my dad died after suffering his first and only heart attack. I can’t ask him today, but I bet there were a few good intentions that he hadn’t quite gotten around to.
None of us wants to leave with regrets, so who says that we have to be diagnosed with some terminal disease to start working on our bucket list? Isn’t life itself a terminal condition? What matters most is not just that our goals are on a timeline; it’s making sure that each day is spent doing the things that last: building valuable memories, loving others, and using our God-given talents in fulfilling and sometimes profound ways.
For tonight, my last night of my twenties, I chose to spend the evening in the simplest of ways: lying on the floor of my living room, among piles of pillows and blankets, with my sweet boys as we watched a movie and snuggled. Then I tucked them in and tearfully said our bedtime prayers. I thanked God for this last decade. When it began, I had not yet married my childhood sweetheart, finished my college degree, became the mother of my four precious boys, or experienced so many other things that I now cherish.
I am so very blessed. If I never live another day, I hope that I am not pitied because my life has already been so warm and so full. But if I am fortunate enough to live tomorrow, 10 years after that, or until my 105th birthday, I hope that I make most days count and I maybe even inspire others to do the same.
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14 NIV