hello monday: vol. 3

Hello, Monday. I've been doing some thinking on discipline.

We're just a couple of weeks into this new year and, according to statistics, most people who made resolutions or goals will abandon them in about four weeks time. At least I think that's the stat — middle of February or so, and our resolve and willpower fails and we go back to old habits until January 1st rolls around again and we resolve anew.

 
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I've always been a big dreamer kind of person, with lofty goals and huge plans for some aspect of my life, if not multiple.

It's a little bit crazy to me, but 2018 looks as if it's going to be the year more than one of those big dreams finally becomes a reality. 

Friday night, I was hanging out with a girlfriend. I told her I was a little bit afraid — well, afraid isn't the right word... unsure, maybe. While 2018 makes me excited, it also makes me unsure. Because it does look as if some of these big dreams are finally going to happen and, when those do come to fruition, well, what then?

You see, I can't remember a time in my life where I haven't been working toward a big goal in some area of my life. I joke with some of my friends about what it would be like to just have hobbies and such like "normal" people, but the truth is, that scares me a little bit.

It's not that I feel I'll have finally "arrived" when those big dreams become a reality. I know there will still be things to work on, areas in my life I want to grow and change, places of my heart the Lord has yet to sanctify and remake in His image. But it's been so long since I was mostly just focused on those things, I don't really know what that kind of life looks like.

My girl, Hannah Brencher, talks about discipline a fair amount. How it's the linchpin to a deliberate, intentional life. We can make goals and plans out the wazoo to make lofty dreams come to life, but without discipline, without putting in the work, those dreams fall apart. They never come to fruition.

Last night, I was reading a book by Annie F. Downs and she started talking about discipline. About learning to show up, day in and day out, in the ordinary things of life. It takes courage to do that, she says. To be disciplined in the little things of life, so you're prepared when the clutch moment arrives.

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2018 is my fourth year using a goal-planning workbook to map out my goals and plans for the year. Near the end of December, another friend of mine and I were discussing what our goals for 2018 might be and I told her a lot of my goals were the same as they were in 2017. And the same as they were in 2016. And the same as they were in 2015.

This isn't because I have things all figured out and don't see many areas of my life that need change. Rather, it's the exact opposite. They're areas of my life I want to see change, but they're not the big things, they're the ordinary ones. So they get pushed to the wayside.

I don't know about you, but it's easy for me to get caught up in the big, lofty goals. The ones that will make a difference or an impact or change your life or someone else's or both. Things like writing books and launching businesses and going on year-long adventures. It's easy to focus on those and work toward them because there's this huge, visible payoff at the end. The light at the end of the tunnel shines brighter for big goals and dreams.

Discipline for the big things is easy. Or easier, at least. But if all we ever work toward is big, lofty dreams, we neglect the majority of our lives, because most of our lives are lived in small, ordinary moments in between those big payoffs for huge dreams. 

You might be wrinkling your nose at this point, because discipline doesn't sound like a very fun word. When done to you, discipline was usually a painful or hard experience, so why would we want to inflict discipline on ourselves?

But like HB, like Annie, I'm realizing discipline takes courage and it really is the linchpin to a deliberate, intentional life.

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On January 1, 2015, I decided, on a whim, to see if I could journal every single day for the entire year. And I did it. So on January 1, 2016, I asked myself if I could journal every single day for two years. And I did it. So on January 1, 2017... you get the picture.

It sounds crazy and impossible to some people, but I just got into a rhythm. I told myself I was going to be disciplined and do this thing, and I did it. I didn't allow myself to question whether or not it was going to happen. I just decided that it was.

It has now been over three years — exactly 1110 days — since I asked myself that initial question and I have journaled every single one of those days, no exceptions. My day now feels incomplete until I've journaled at the end of it.

I'm still aiming for those big lofty goals that are chugging along and on their way to becoming a reality in 2018, but I've decided 2018 is not going to be the year where I neglect the ordinary in favor of the extraordinary. It will not be the year I only focus on the things that have a visible payoff, whose tunnel lights are brighter, whose results will obviously change lives or change the world. 

Life is lived in the little moments — the in betweens, the ones no one sees, the ones you never think to share. And it's in those little moments where the habits that construct an incredible life are built, brick by brick, disciplined rhythm by disciplined rhythm.

I hope 2018 is a year of year where some big dreams become a reality. But I hope, too, that we don't neglect the bricks that build a legacy and a life worth living. I hope that for me, and I hope it for you, too, friend.