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.)
My second 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.
My final 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.