Thursday, December 31, 2009

List #27: 7 Resolutions for the New Year

I live about 100 paces away from a great little independently owned coffee shop in Kansas City. During the year they regularly display pieces by local artists, but it is their display right at this time of the year that is my favorite. The art comes down off the walls. The baristas write their resolutions for the new year on pieces of paper. Oliver, the owner, takes the resolutions to a copy shop and has the resolutions enlarged to poster size.

For the first few weeks of the new year these resolutions hang out there, for all to see. There are grammatical mistakes and spelling errors. There is the attempt at humor, self-deprecating and otherwise. There is earnestness and self-revelation. It is touching in a weird and slighly voyeuristic way.

Each year I make a few resolutions for the new year. I've never written them down, much less tacked them to the wall of a coffee shop. But, here are mine:

1) Complete book manuscript by August 15, 2010
Two things happen this August. On August 1 I will begin my eleventh (!!!) year in the professional ministry, assuming you count the one year I spent as an Intern Minister and the two years I spent serving as a student minister at different churches in the Boston area. I do count those three years, by the way. On August 15 I will turn 33 years old. I want to write a book about spending a decade in the ministry before the age of 33. With a book coming out in less than a week I have got an itch.

How I will get there: Ministers write a lot. My job as a minister requires that I write about 3,000 words per week. But I follow a discipline of writing 1,000 words each day. One thousand words is not a lot. Hemingway forced himself to write that many before he allowed himself to hit the bars and he usually hit the bars before noon. And, it's not like I'm writing The Old Man and The Sea. 75,000 words by August 15th can be done.

2) Answer emails promptly
I have let myself fall into a bad habit of letting emails sit in my inbox for way too long. New rule for the new year: All emails get responses in 48 hours or less.

How I will get there: I'm not going to over-think this one.

3) Daily spiritual practice
For a while I was on a very good streak with a daily spiritual practice that included reading a part of a book of poetry or collection of mediations, a time of reflection, and taking the time to express gratitude. It is important to do this. It is important for how it centers my day and it is important because I encourage those to whom I minister to have a spiritual practice. I've slipped from this practice.

How I will get there: When I close my computer I am going to set a copy of a meditation collection on top. If that doesn't work then it will be time for drastic measures.

4) Continue growth towards full financial maturity
These are actually the resolutions that I've made in the past that I have had the greatest success in fulfilling. In past years I've successfully taken the following steps:
Living the life of a philanthropist - the first principle of financial maturity.
Living free from indebtedness - for me this meant completely paying off my student loans.
Refusing to be defined as a consumer - resisting culture's dehumanizing influences.
I add a new goal each year. This year, the goal is to acquire (some) financial wisdom. (By the way, I've completely made up all of these goals because most of the sources I've turned to in the past have utterly failed to speak to me.)

How I will get there: Find better sources of information, whether it is from books or wise teachers.

5) Practice the guitar
My church gave me a beautiful blue guitar about 14 months ago. I took lessons for a while. Now it is time to pick the instrument back up and have another go at it.

How I will get there: Use Youtube clips to learn songs I want to learn.

6) Read at least 52 books and at least 12,000 pages this year.
This is an annual goal I set and I've never achieved it, but there is no harm in trying again.

7) Better exercise habits
In November I joined up at the UMKC gym. Here is hoping that I can get there at least three times each week.

How I will ge there: Walk out the front door of my condo. Turn left. Walk one block on 51st Street to arrive at the UMKC campus. Walk up a big flight of stairs (good exercise). Cross the street. Arrive at the gym.

Wish me luck! Happy New Year!