As the New Year
arrives, it seems like people everywhere are feeling reflective and talking
about their goals, resolving that this year will be a turning point. In light
of that atmosphere, today I want to share a few resolutions I have for myself.
They are not new. Actually, I have the same resolutions every year! For the
last fifteen years or so, I have had four simple disciplines that I do every
morning. These four things are really the only things I need to accomplish each
day – and honestly, if I do these four things, nothing else really matters.
The first thing is
my quiet time. After meeting Jesus in high school, I quickly learned that the
main way to grow in my relationship with Christ was to have a daily quiet time.
For me this means drinking coffee, reading my Bible, praying through my day,
and journaling. For the last eight years or so, I have used the Life
Journal Reading Plan, which helps me read through the Bible in a
year. My wife and I and a few friends have synchronized our reading schedules
so that we are on the same chapters, and each day we share our thoughts. (If
you’re interested, this is all facilitated by an app that syncs on all of my
devices: The Bible App – YouVersion.)
discipline is returning all of my emails from the previous day. I started this
discipline after being confronted by my boss (who at the time was the President
of Young Life) about not getting back to him in a timely manner. I simply
wasn’t responding to my emails on time, and something had to give. So, I
implemented a “zero inbox” policy, and I’ve stuck with it for many years. As we
all know, responding to email produces more emails… so I limit my email time to
once a day in the morning, for about one hour. I work hard to respond to
everything from the day before and have a clean inbox. I am not always
successful, but every morning I make that my goal.
My third habit is
exercise. Exercise is a pretty recent discovery for me (I started when I was
29). In high school I was never an athlete and in fact I weighed 25% more than
I do today. But now I love running, and I also cross-train by lifting weights
and swimming. Getting stronger and swimming faster has been a lot of fun. I
exercise every day now, and the time has become enjoyable and helpful. Though I
come across as an extreme extrovert, I need time alone to think and to process.
I now know that my physical fitness has a direct positive impact on my ability
to perform my job and have the stamina to do what I do.
discipline is showering. It sounds so stupid to say that one of the habits I
have committed to is taking a shower, but in reality, the basics are important.
Taking care of my personal hygiene is part of me being the best me I can be.
My experience is
that if I do these four disciplines before I leave the house in the morning to
take the kids to school, my day is going to be great.
But – you may ask
– what about your family? You didn’t mention your wife and kids! Are
they not a priority to you? Good question. In fact, they are the reason I
prioritize my disciplines, because when I don’t do them, I find that I am
stressed and not available for my family. I do all these disciplines so that I
can be present and ready to spend time with my family.
Your solution is not to do my four disciplines, but rather I ask you, “What are the things that seem to make or break your day, and your life?” Creating patterns around these things will allow you to prioritize them and will allow the gears in your life to turn a little more smoothly.