Starting the New Year Finished

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I don’t know about you guys, but I am way over New Years Resolutions. Yeah, I know, a week in and I am done, fini, caput, so outta here.  I just can’t deal with another failed resolution to diet, clean out closets, or exercise x about of times during a week. By February I’ve usually violently fallen off whatever bandwagon I’ve decided to ride, rolled down the hill, and hit my head on a rock of failure. Aaaaand felt HORRIBLE about myself. Into my thirties I can officially say I have done this repeatedly for decades with the same disappointing results. But, I know I am not the only one. So, in lieu of decades of shame, we here at Serendipitous Living are reevaluating what starting fresh with a New Year means to us. In this spirit, we have decided not only to be done with resolutions but also to come up with our own way to restart and refresh ourselves in the hopes of a better… well, us! We welcomed 2018 instead with a theme. Think of it like a thesis statement for the year. Remember those good ole days in English class when your teacher would annoyingly remind you to keep your paper concise and “remember your thesis statement”? Or you can think of it as a direction, a mark on your compass to remind you exactly where you want to be headed. Our theme, our touchstone this year is Inspiration. We will make this a year of living inspired. Everything we apply ourselves to, every experience we will examine what it means to our spring of inspiration and what we can draw from it. We not only will actively seek it, but do all we can to bring it to others, especially our readers and tribe. What better theme for our first New Year?

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While we are on the subject of resolve and efforts left unfinished, let’s talk a moment about a hilarious and indispensable read that got us all really excited, Finished by Jeff Acuff. This book is perfect for setting off the year with goals because it is all about following through, and as you can see, that’s a bit of a weak spot of mine. But, I am going to be completely honest, I have always had something of a distaste for business or self-improvement books. It’s not necessarily that I found them tripe or silly (though sooooo many are), just… well most of them are dull at best, even if helpful. So much so I need a hit of espresso or whiff peppermint oil just walking thought that aisle in the bookstore to keep me awake, BORING. I can say that Jon Acuff’s Finished is my first successful read in the genre that left me with a takeaway and was something I found rather entertaining. Definitely not boring.

Aside from Acuff’s humor and his applicable and stories of his own hilarious fails, what I think I found most appealing was his call to reality. The returning theme Acuff addresses throughout the book is “perfectionism” and though it (and you) have good intentions, it can be and often is a mighty goal-killer. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, right? Indeed, and so Acuff calls us to stop, analyze, reassess, and apply a different sort of philosophy when looking to accomplish a goal. And it is his philosophy that is, at least for me, rather new and somewhat contradictory to what I have been accustomed to. Personally, I have always abided by the old “if you don’t do right, it’s not worth doing at all”. Just giving you an example of his advice, “cut your goal in half”… uh ouch. Or, even “bombing” tasks completely… oof. But, I promise after the initial hurt that us perfectionists feel, you will understand the method to his madness. Ultimately, Acuff wants us to save ourselves for the stuff that matters, the stuff that will actually get us to our real goal.

After Acuff shatters our little perfectionist hearts, he shows us how to begin to train our perfectionist brains differently. At the end of each chapter are “actions” that Acuff recommends and these are seemingly designed to do just that, address our thinking which is the kindling for the fiery flames our goals end up in. The beauty of his methodology is that his chapters and actions are structured enough that you feel it flows and makes sense, but you don’t necessarily have to sit down to do homework all evening unless you so choose. These “actions” got me to realize that my house doesn’t have to be vacuumed before I sit down to write for the day, because when that starts then my whole house ends up clean and I’ve wasted a good portion of day cleaning that could have been used for some quality, quite writing time. Ultimately, he advises us to be more analytical, logical, introspective and realistic but in a way that you don’t notice that your learning new methods. If you are one that struggles with procrastination or have bombed countless resolutions like myself, then this is a definite read for you. Even if you think you don’t struggle with such but have had a hard time reaching any kind of goal, read it because at some point I would be willing to bet that Acuff will hit on some issue that is holding you back and has a tactic to combat it. With that, I will close with a Simon Sinek quote Acuff draws to our attention that I just love, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.”

 

Happy Inspired New Year!

The Serendipitous Living Team