The start of a New Year ushers in a host of resolutions. While we all have a pretty good idea about what changes we need to make, most of us will not be successful at making lasting changes. This is because the change process is not what most of us think it is. In order to change our life we have to first get into it. Yet most advice appeals to our desire for a life other than the one we are living.
At the end of each year we take inventory of our life and evaluate the good, bad, and ugly. Looking on to a New Year is another chance to improve things and out of this honest introspection comes our personal, professional, or relational goals. However, it all starts to go downhill as soon as we try and muscle up more will-power, discipline, or add desperately needed things to our list. I used to do the same things until I learned the secret.
I’d like to share with you this fundamental truth before you jump into another year of effort and output. I’ve shared it many times this year in my newsletters. It seems so simple that it’s easy to miss its implications. Furthermore, it is so counter intuitive to the way almost everything works. Would you like to know what it is? Ok…
Being creates our doing, not vice-versa.
Our world teaches us that we are what we do. It says that if we want a better life then we have to do more. So we end up focusing on productivity, time management, balance, and so on. This approach presuppose that achievement gives us our life. The world of business, academics, sports and the arts all sell us the same story line: Success is rising above the crowd through sheer innovation, determination, and competition. We are told we have value if we stand out. We are told we will have a unique identity (being) if we distinguish ourselves. We are told special lives have meaning. Our energy is thus spent on getting an identity or lifestyle that we don’t yet possess.
What do we really gain by outdoing others? What benefit is it to gain all the world’s top accolades if we lose ourself in the process? Didn’t Jesus say the same thing? (Luke 9:25)
If we glance over this, we will default into what I call a Deferred Life. This is when we believe that if we can just get _____________, then we will have peace and satisfaction. Once that belief is locked in place, the only options are effort and output. Effort and output are required no matter what we believe, but if we lack this fundamental watershed principal, then our best life will always remain on the other side of effort and output. We never actually get to live it, only chase it.
So what is the alternative?
Be more, not do more.
It is not enough to know what we want in life. We must know why we want things. If all we want is comfort, fun, or pleasure then our being is still quite immature, not unlike a little baby. I call it being stuck in the small self. (like a root bound plant in a small container) Comfort, fun and pleasure are nice, but not goals. Immaturity always prioritizes these ahead of meaning, purpose, or doing the right thing.
This is why so many people go around depressed and distracted. Many are stuck in their small self and they spend their lives chasing after the wind (Eccles 1:14), hoping ____________ will save or satisfy them. Sorrow is the recognition of meaning and the inability to possess it. Thus nothing proves the existence of God like depression.
If we are able to grasp this principal, then 2016 may hold a different set of goals for us. This may be the year we stop going in circles like a human doing and finally find our true self and become a human being. We must do the internal work in order to have any external trajectory. When we find meaning, the doing is a joyful byproduct, not drudgery.
All lasting change is always inside-out, not outside-in. I hope that you want your life enough to invest in it by learning how to go deeper. You don’t have to give your life away chasing a life you may never get. Instead spend 2016 getting into the life you have rather than out of it into another one.I think Solomon said it best when he said: “How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” Proverbs 16:16