Investing implies committing to a value for the sake of the return. What we devote our time to clearly indicates what we value. I John 2: 15 – 17 tells me not to love the world or anything in the world. I am reminded that the world is passing away with all of its pleasures, but what I do for eternal value is most important. I want to live a life that counts. Don’t you?
Living intentionally really means living deliberately, with design or planning, or being voluntarily willed. Investing in the long game invites intentional living that focuses on eternal values. To unpack a few steps in living well, incorporate these thoughts.
1. Evaluate the past and the present. Take some time to really think about what has gone on in the past. Celebrate all that you have accomplished. Remember your family and friends. Be grateful for those who have been kind to you or helped you to move forward in life. Be thankful for your parents, your siblings, your teachers, your friends and others. Take a moment to text, call or write them a message of gratitude. Be honest with your regrets. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Strategize how to avoid repeating past mistakes.
2. Dream your future specifically. What are your values? What is worth your time? Take inventory of your daily routines and rhythms. Do they represent your true values? Is there anything that is important to you that you avoid? What could you do differently? What should you do more of consistently? Are there relationships that you would like to cultivate? Think forward. Actively plan your future. Break it into bite size pieces. Think of how to make changes that can drive you toward your goals.
3. Chase JOY, not happiness. Remember that joy is the simplest form of happiness. Although this is not an absolute, happiness is a choice. Perhaps you have heard the idea that it is not as important what happens to you as it is how you react. We all recall situations where the exact thing happens to two people and their responses are very opposite.
4. Choose body blessing. So many are body obsessed and some are constantly body shaming their bodies as well as others. Choose body blessing. Take care of your body by a balance of sleep, water, nourishing food, exercise and outdoor activities. (Sunshine early in the morning fills you with such happiness. If you are not absorbing sunshine everyday, maybe this is something you could add in the new year.)
5. Aim for emotional maturity. If you need to heal a mother wound or change a toxic behavior, search for accountability and counseling. Set boundaries when needed. Work hard to renew your mind. Specific ideas for a mental reset are explained in Toxic Thinking: Renewal Through Neuroplasticity. Emotional maturity indicates that you recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Emotional maturity mandates regular reflection on what is healthy and what needs revision. Emotional maturity produces a calmness coupled with thoughtful responses.
6. Community over consumerism. People over things. Time over money.
7. Be the friend you want as a friend. What do you like best about your friends? What would you like in a friend? Loyalty? Consistency? Hospitable? Someone who reaches out first or at least 50%? A person who keeps your confidence? A friend who will give you Biblical advice even when it is not popular? A friend who you can call in the middle of the night? Pause and make a list of what you want in a friend. Now look through the list and check all the things that represent you. Are you the friend you want in a friend?
8. Kindness reflects an awareness of other’s needs and an unselfish desire to meet those needs. Be known for authenticity. Establish boundaries where needed. Choose carefully the people who are worth investing in regularly. When this is truly part of who you are you are you will discover the immense joy in generosity!! Give magnanimously!
9. Practice stillness and quiet daily. Give your soul time to catch up to your body. When there is a moment of quiet, don’t grab your phone. Sit in the solitude. Pray out loud and quietly inside all throughout the day. God is with you if you are a Christ follower. Imagine that God’s presence is with you always because it is. Joshua 1:9 along with so many other verses reminds us that God is with us wherever we go. Relax into God’s goodness as you sit quietly. Reminisce on all the blessings that are yours. Open God’s gifts by seeing them. A lack of gratitude often means that awareness is impotent. Theophan the Recluse, a Russian monk, wrote, ” To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and there to stand before the face of the Lord, ever present, all seeing, within you.” God is with you if you are a Christ follower. Lean into that awareness. Don’t miss the opportunity to be with God in those moments. Open your eyes so that you can open your heart and hands.
10. Most importantly, invest in your soul. Believe in the infiniteness of your soul and the finiteness of your body. When this reality sinks in, your actions reflect this truth. The seconds, the minutes, the days, the months and the years just run faster and faster. Sometimes when we look back we feel that time past is a blur. In my experience, reading the Bible each day, praying out loud to God throughout the day and worshiping Him verbally and musically brings eternal perspective. Stay alert. Stay fresh. Stay grounded.
A new year offers an opportunity to look back at the past, look around at the present and to look forward to the future. In what ways are you investing in the long game?
Join me for a conversation with Tim on Embrace Your Everyday podcast.
More inspiration on home and family:
Choosing to Live Your Best Life
10 Tips to Find a Lifetime Teammate
I Liked Jesus Before He Was a Christian and I Liked Him Better Then
Wisdom from the Wheel: What Pottery has Taught Me
Empty Arms: The Journey of Infertility, Miscarriage and Children