The start of a new year can be both exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Regardless of how the previous year went, we're all usually excited for the "fresh start" we believe a New Year brings. At the same time, all the messaging about New Year's resolutions, setting lofty goals, and being the best version of yourself can feel a little heavy.
Personally, I struggle with the whole New Year's resolution thing. I dislike the setting of meaningless goals most of us know we are going to forget about by January 7. So, in more recent years I've started experimenting with different options such as fasting during the month of January.
Last year, in addition to a month long fast, I experimented with the "word of the year" idea and chose a word/theme for each quarter of the year. At the start of the year I planned out each quarter in detail, but kind of fell off. I ended up stepping away from my planning nature and let myself just go with the flow.
As 2019 approached, I started reflecting on themes that came up during the past year. There were some major indications that I was lacking a sense of freedom in certain areas of my life, areas that need some serious soul work to address.
The one thing I want(ed) to steer clear of is anything that requires a significant amount of planning. I'm not that old, but I have enough life experience to know that nothing goes as planned. And frankly, I have started to enjoy the uncertainty of life and surprises that come when I let myself go with the flow and be open to any and all of the amazing possibilities life has to offer.
The Year of Freedom
Each quarter I'm going to challenge myself to break a few more chains. I chose to spend a full 3 months on each because I think I need ample time to really reflect, tackle the root issue, make mindset shifts, and truly break free. A month seems to go by in the blink of an eye and doesn't feel sufficient enough to do more than scratch the surface.
At the start of each quarter I'll share my intentions here first. I invite you to join me on any of these challenges if any of them speak to you. Or maybe you can come up with one of your own. I'll share occasional updates and reflections on Instagram using the hashtag #yearoffreedom and you'll always get an update here before I start each new experiment.
The first quarter, I'm starting with...
Free to Rest
We live in a performance driven, hustle and grind culture. We're encouraged to overload our schedules, wake up at 4am, work late, deprive ourselves of sleep, and grind grind grind all in the name of achieving our goals and living a successful life. We run our bodies and health into the ground, neglect relationships, and forget that rest and play are also important for our health, success and creativity.
God calls us to work hard AND rest. It's a package deal.
Are you rolling your eyes at me yet?
Maybe you're starting a new exercise or fitness regimen this month. Is there any personal trainer, fitness guru, or workout plan that doesn't incorporate a rest day? ...something to think about if you're having a difficult time with the idea of incorporating rest into your daily or weekly schedule.
I feel you though. I have a decent amount of resistance toward rest too. I even ugly cried in small group once about it. That was a little embarrassing. But there's something deep there and I think much of it relates to associating my worthiness with how productive I am and what I accomplish.
For me, the challenges are in examining the current source of my worthiness and realigning it to where it should come from, not relying on my productive efforts alone, and acknowledging that I'm not fully in control of the outcome. Do I trust and have enough faith in God to stop, take a break, and let Him do His work while I go recharge and enjoy life?
As Rebekah Lyons states in her book, You Are Free, "we cannot prioritize our doing before being, our assignment before healing, our service before Freedom," (p. 34).
For 3 months I am challenging myself to:
Silence or turn my phone off for one hour every day, and
Shut down for a full 24 hours straight every week in order to
Engage in rest or play during that time
How I define Rest
Rest is any activity that is a break from my normal daily or weekly routine, and is not done for the purpose of trying to meet a goal or produce a "product."
For example, although writing is a restful activity for me, any writing done during my periods of rest cannot be done for the purpose of creating content for a blog post.
Activities I consider to be restful:
Writing, journaling & morning pages
Puzzles and games
Taking a walk or getting out in nature
Watching a movie
Prayer, meditation, and spending time with God
Trying a new recipe
Napping or lounging in bed with a hot cup of tea
Eating out, exploring the city, or doing something fun with my husband
I'm 4 days in and already finding it hard to set my work to the side in the evening and do something restful. Here's to the challenge!
Carl Richards said it best, "We are going to hustle, sure. But we’re also going to rest. In fact, we’re going to be as good at resting as we are at crushing things. We’re going to become pros at turning off social media, getting great sleep, working less and living more...Then, when people ask how you’re doing, you can say, “Sit down. Let’s talk about it for a minute, because I have time for you, my friend.” At minimum, you should be able to answer, “Rested, and how are you?”
How do you define rest? How do you incorporate rest into your life?
I'd love for you to join me, even if it's just for a week or month. If you decide to participate, share your experience with me on Instagram using #yearoffreedom.
A look into the future: My other freedom experiments this year will be Free to Speak, Free to Let My Skin Breathe: A makeup free challenge, and Free to Let My Husband Be.