What are you kicking to the curb in 2023?

20 transforming habits for a better life

The most important thing about you is not where you’ve been, but where you’re going.

But first, a new year’s hack…

Now is the time when we start mapping out the changes we want to make in the new year.

Unfortunately, the research shows that by February, many of us are back to life and business-as-usual. If the statistics are anything to go by, perhaps the things we want to jettison in our lives and the transformations we seek require divine intervention.

If you’ve been trying to make changes in your life and come up empty, maybe you weren’t meant to do it on our own. Maybe, this year, it’s worth inviting God into the process.

But, how do we learn to hear God? Well, it’s not as complicated or as mystical as you may think. You simply invite God into your life and the lives of the people you care about? God is not forceful. He is kind and humble and he wants an invitation into your life and all, yes all, of life’s messy details.

It starts with answering the question:

Who is God?

God is love…

Everything that comes out of God is of love’s kind. God is not fickle or punitive. God doesn’t react to us based on whether he’s having a good or bad hair-day. God’s temperament isn’t based on how we perform. God is always good all the time.

Once you get that, remember that the Father, Son, and Spirit are with you ALL…THE…TIME. Nothing, NO THING can separate you from the love of God. So, it’s about fixing your eyes on Jesus.

Then, there are two simple questions to ask God:

What do you want me to know that I don’t know?  What do you want me to do?

Given the changes you seek in your life and the issues you wrestle with simply ask God: “What do you want me to know? What do you want me to do?”

When you ask, wait for the free-flow of thoughts that go through your mind.

Sometimes it will be clear as day…

Other times it may take some time. But rest assured, God is relational to the core. Whether you know it or not, They (Father, Son, and Spirit) have included you in the intimacy they share. They are interested in every detail of your life. So, they want to be invited into what you are doing and they will invite you into what they are doing. Relationships are collaborative and reciprocal.

Then, it’s about listening with a posture of expectancy.

Expectancy says, “I’m available. I’m ready for anything because I believe that You are co-authoring my life story into Your story and You are good.” Expectancy is about surrendering to the untamed, unpredictable, adventurous, and often disruptive nature of God.

When you ask these questions (What do you want me to know? What do you want me to do?) it takes the pressure off you to come up with answers, to figure it out on your own. God is essentially saying, “It’s not on you, it’s on me. And, I got this!”

Does it take faith? Of course. Do you have to trust that he will offer insight? Yes. Will the process be easy? Probably not. But that’s why we call it faith. And, faith often grows through practice, patience, and persistence.

So when you face the uncertainty of a new year, take on a major challenge, confront an issue that scares you, or seek transformation, expectancy asks, “Where are you God in this or that situation? What are you doing? And, how do I participate?

Then, it’s about trusting that he WILL show up!

Your image of God and your vision of the future…

will influence your hope and energy, your attitude and ambition, your confidence and courage, your joy and peace, and what you make of the life you’ve been given.

What matters more than what happened last year is what you choose to do with NOW. And, whatever it is you choose, you don’t have to do it alone.

So, join us in kicking bad habits to the curb and committing to 20 new habits (or pick the 5 habits that offer the best ROI in your life) to travel more intentionally and lightly in the months ahead.

  1. Be clear about your needs.

Clear is kind. It is the opposite of hinting and hoping. People aren’t mind readers. We all interpret things differently. Expecting someone to intuitively know what you are thinking or how you feel is unfair, not to mention unrealistic.

In a healthy relationship, you should have the freedom to ask for things you need or want. So, say what’s on your mind. If you need help, be vulnerable and brave enough to say so. If something’s not working have the courage to speak up and be honest.

If you’d like someone to show up differently, tell them what “different” looks like and then ask them if they’re willing to change. Take responsibility for being clear without complaining or criticizing.

2. Stop prioritizing people who don’t prioritize you.

Healthy relationships are reciprocal. They are bound by other-centered, self-giving love, unbounded trust, and mutual delight.

Relationships thrive when both parties are interested, when people share great stories and engage with childlike curiosity and when they genuinely listen to know at a deeper level.

LIFE comes from an inner circle of people who grow, change and stretch together.

  1. Stop playing small, dare to try new things!

Playing it safe will keep you out of harm’s way. If you’re careful, cautious, and reluctant to take risks, it’s unlikely you’ll die on Mt. Everest or in shark-infested waters.

You may not upset your boss or a client for blowing $100,000 on a failed project. You’ll never make your co-workers uncomfortable by revealing the thousand-pound elephant in the room.

Playing it safe protects you from risks like this, but you’re likely to miss the adventure. Safe is highly overrated. Adventure calls you to choose courage, freedom and autonomy instead of safety and control. Dare to “Put yourself out there.”

4. Avoid self-condemnation.

Self-loathing and self-criticism not only takes you out; both lead to judging others. If you’re too hard on yourself, why wouldn’t you be too hard on others?

Stop second-guessing your worth and the value you bring to the table. Instead of seeing yourself the way you are tempted to, take sides with God and see how he sees you—accepted, deeply loved, ultimately forgiven, and cherished.

5.  Quit looking for external validation to elevate you.

Get off the emotional roller coaster of seeking approval from others. It kills your freedom, destroys peace and weakens your ability to make a difference in the world. Your worth is not up for debate. Your worth is a God-given truth.

Stand firm in your identity as one who is unconditionally loved beyond comprehension and without reservation. Real freedom is freedom from the opinions and judgments of others and freedom from your opinions of yourself. God accepts you as you are. Follow his lead and accept your acceptedness.

That said, live and lead with the grit, grace and gravitas that has been planted in you from above.

6. Stop pole vaulting over mouse turds.

It’s easy to take things that are of little or no consequence and turn them into a nuclear conflict. This includes wasting emotional energy on things that don’t matter all that much.

Avoid unhealthy drama and stop overthinking things that aren’t worth the ROI. See things for what they are and accurately evaluate their importance in the big picture of your life.

  1. Let go of resentment.

It has been said, resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemy. Your experiences and the effects of whats happened to you are real…and valid, but the truth is, holding a grudge, seeking revenge and regurgitating the same events repeatedly is most toxic to you.

Refusing to forgive or extend grace is like carrying the load of a huge backpack filled with past hurts (rocks). Whenever someone fails to meet your expectation or offends you, you throw another rock into the pack. The backpack gets heavier, weighing you down to the point where living joyfully becomes impossible.

In addition to “I love you,” the words “I forgive you” may be the most powerful words for taking charge of your life. They unleash inner healing and relational freedom.

8. Ban comparing your work and life to others.

Most of what we see on Facebook and Instagram is a façade. Are people’s lives really that glamorous, adventurous, and perfect? A quick look behind closed doors and the answer is “no.”

The truth is, comparison is the thief of joy and the cause of depression and self-doubt because there will always be someone who has and is doing more than you.

So why go there. Sheryl Crow said it well, “Happiness is wanting what you have.”

  1. Stop saying…

“Everything happens for a reason.”

“God has a plan.”

“It is what it is.”

We get it, these are things people say when they don’t know what to say. But all three are statements of resignation. They are symbolic of a weak, reactive posture. They might be backed with good intention, but they are meaningless and unhelpful. If you want to live a big life, jettison them from your vocabulary.

Everything does not happen for a reason. A young family is killed by a drunk driver on Christmas Eve. A teenage girl is sold on the black market as a sex slave. A guy walks into the kitchen and out of the blue, informs his wife that he’s filing for divorce because he’s not in love with her anymore. Where is the “reason” is in these scenarios? And let’s be perfectly clear, a good God (who is love) does not include things like this in his plan for your life. He will use them to be sure. He works ALL things together for good, but he does not instigate them to punish you or teach you something.

“It is what it is” is another way of saying, “Accept it because you’re not going to change it.” It abdicates your response-ability, your ability to choose your response. It’s remarkable that Malala Yousafzai didn’t say “It is what it is.” when describing the Taliban’s oppression in her village. When a masked gunman shot her in the face for speaking out for the education of young women, Malala survived and turned the tragedy in to a global movement.

The truth is, in a world full of broken people, life unexpected happens. Bad, uninvited things happen to good people everyday for no good reason at all. They are not part of God’s plan, but they are more than “…what it is.” They are opportunities to invite God to help you through it or help someone else through it and ask, “What do you want me to learn and who do you want me to become in this shitty situation?”

Bottomline, you will always be a victim of something or someone because life is hard, but you have a choice about whether or not you’re going to be victimized.

Resignation deadens your spirit. It compels you to live like a coward, hesitate, procrastinate, rationalize, make excuses, and ultimately live a more trivial, less fulfilling life. There is far more significance, satisfaction, and joy in being accountable for making things happen, even when you make mistakes, than there is in shrinking from your calling and rationalizing that it all falls “on Him up there.” It does fall on him. He brings strength to your weakness. But that is not an excuse to sit on your thumbs waiting for him to magically do something. He invites us to participate because They (Father, Son and Spirit) are relational to the core.

Fear regret more than you fear failure. Chose to be a victor over being a victim.

“Comparison is the,

thief of joy.

10. Put an end to over-explaining when the answer is “no.”

If the answer is “no,” it’s no. You don’t need to justify or explain why it is the “right” decision.

There is no judge or jury in a healthy relationship. Love doesn’t ask for justification. Love extends respect and paves the way for truth in kindness. You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.

Stop trying to find a “good reason” for “no” when people make you feel like “no” is not enough. Say “no” with confidence.”

11. Disrupt the impulse to rush through your pain, dare to sit with it.

If the Trinity is anything to go by, God is relational to the core. He cherishes the mutual delight, shared love, adventure, and sheer enjoyment of being WITH you. Perhaps this is why he often allows you to come to the end of yourself. Your inability, coming to the end of your rope, is essential to discovering the Spirit’s life comforting, strengthening, and animating you. It is a beautiful dynamic.

But disbelief, disinterest, or distraction will blur that truth. Rushing through pain makes you miss it. You will flounder in frustration because you misinterpret the very events in life that can accelerate the process of making you whole. If we let them, the events in life offer an opportunity to refine us, but they don’t have to define us.

12. Drop your unhealthy attachment to things.

Being a slave to material things is not freedom. It creates more to pay for, more to protect and maintain, and more to upgrade. Any unhealthy attachment to material things is a way of medicating.

The joy they bring is temporary at best because you’re trying to fill a void “the thing” was never intended to fulfill. If this were not the case, your inner discontent and incompleteness would go away, right? Advertising ads are masterful at playing to, “I’m not enough, but if I buy this new thing, I will be.” It is a lie, yet it is cunning and addictive. The new thing rarely ever delivers.

Instead, invest more in experiences and relationships that create memories—memories that make meaning and can be relived over and over again.

“Happiness is not having what you want, it’s wanting, what you have.

–Sheryl Crow

13. Resist armoring up to hide your fear and insecurity.

Living an epic life requires stepping out of your comfort zone and into the arena where things are awkward, scary, and hard. If you love deeply, you will be vulnerable to a broken heart. If you step onto enough “colosseum floors” in life, you will get your ass kicked.

When this happens, refuse to armor up and build more walls. Yes, the fortress or façade you build mitigates the pain, but it also mitigates the joy that comes from meaningful relationships and the confidence that comes from doing hard things.

There is no life in life without facing uncertainty, risk, and exposure.

14. Give up doom scrolling.

The endless time-suck of consuming negative news, especially at night, raises your insecurity and anxiety when what you really need is rest and sleep. The news incites fear and irritability and its both polarizing and paralyzing.

From social media to the nightly news, the channels traffic in fear, sensationalism, and slicing and dicing minutiae. Presidents and pandemics will not last forever.

Do not give peace away to those whose opinions are not constructive or warranted. Learn to filter appropriately.

15. Relinquish the Need to be Right.

Being right is highly overrated. It screws up more relationships and wastes more good weekends than we care to admit. Being right is about control, and control is an illusion.

Being wrong doesn’t make you less of a person. It just means you were wrong and shows the world you are human.

You don’t have to win every time. And, when you are right, maybe the world doesn’t need to know it right now.

Being right is highly overrated.

Here’s an idea: How about resigning as general manager of the universe?

16. Jettison perfectionism.

Perfectionism is also about control. Striving to be perfect keeps you from putting your creative work out into the world. It’s a shame, because the world doesn’t get the benefit of the gifts and talents planted in you. The people who would be enriched from what you have to offer get ripped-off.

Your worth is not determined by crossing off everything on your to-do list perfectly. Extend yourself the grace God has extended to you—the grace to be beautifully imperfect… and ship more creative work.

Whatever the goal, the good plan you execute is better than the perfect one you never complete.

17. Refuse to be held hostage by history.

The past is the past—water under the bridge. Wallowing in the mistakes of yesterday kills the opportunity and joy housed in today. Doing it the way you’ve always done it just because you are comfortable with what you know doesn’t facilitate your growth and maturity.

When you stop bringing something fresh and new to the game, complacency and stagnation take hold. Then, the game is over. Stop dwelling in the past or leaning on yesterday’s headlines. Get out of the comfort zone where true learning and courage happen.

18. Stop neglecting your health.

If 2020-2022 taught us anything, it is not to take life as we know it for granted. There isn’t always “more time.”

What you put in your body to keep it going, how much you sleep, your physical well-being, and how much you exercise influences the energy you have for everything and everyone.

Your spiritual well-being, from living loved and knowing who and Whose you are, to acting consistently affects every relationship you have, starting with yourself. Kick “I don’t have time for this” to the curb.

19. Eliminate cabin fever.

The world is opening up after COVID. That said, many people still have a hard time getting out of the office, whether it be at home or downtown.  If you want to stay physically and mentally strong resist the urge to stay cooped up inside. Outdoor exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the block, a quick bike ride or a short time in your backyard leads to feeling revitalized, energized and positively engaged.

Take in a sunrise or sunset, stand at the foot of a mountain or edge of a lake, or gather a few ideas from the neighbor’s landscaping. Simple things will put a cap on stir crazy. So, take time to get outside and be present to what you see.

20. Unplug and engage.

Your phone is a tool, not medication. Yet, we live in a world where the average smartphone user spends 2.5 hours on the phone each day. Yes, phones are a marvel, a lifeline. They shrink the world, put education at our fingertips and make life more efficient and convenient.

But phones also become outlets to escape meaningful connection.

Few will admit it, but simply observe the way people spend their time and you discover people spend more time on phones than engaging with other people. Is it any wonder that kids feel ignored by their parents and parents feel dismissed by their kids because they are glued to their devices? We forget that relationships are what make life rich and fulfilling, but relationships need to be cultivated.

Unplug, start engaging with people instead of scrolling online.

20½. Don’t lose peace over something you can’t control.

We’ve said it a few times now: control is an illusion. If the pandemic didn’t prove that to us, we are not awake.

We agree with Byron Katie: “If you want real control; drop the illusion of control. Let life have you. It does anyway.” It doesn’t serve you to live in denial by telling yourself a story that it doesn’t.

When our daughters were in high school they learned that “friends,” whom they thought were loyal, could be competitive, mean and cunning. As a protective father and a typical guy who wanted to fix it, Kevin would listen, empathize and strategize with our girls. In the process, it was tempting to get wrapped around the emotional axel of trying to control an outcome. After all, you’re only as happy as your least happy child, right?

The odd thing was, after going on the emotional roller coaster with them, Kevin was blown away by the fact that one of the mean girls, who participated in some very unbecoming behavior, was having a sleepover with one of our girls. WTF! This girl, who was no longer welcome in our home, was back to being chummy with our daughter.

At this point, Kevin learned that control is an illusion and peace was found by not getting sucked into the drama, by refusing to get on the roller coaster.

What roller coasters are you on? Make this the year of getting off.

As you dive into 2023……

know that people in whom you put your trust and faith will let you down. You’re likely to suffer from hope disappointed, and maybe even a broken heart. You’ll let people down and you might be unkind to those you love most. You’ll make some bad decisions, and the consequences of those choices may be painful. You may even lament the fact that your biological clock is ticking too fast. At some point, you will come to the harsh realization that you should’ve spent more time with someone you love.

So, create more memories, take more pictures, laugh more often, love more freely, behave more generously, and live big and bold, because every minute you spend wallowing in woulda, coulda, and shoulda is a minute of life you will never get back.

Do not be afraid of dying.
Be afraid of dying before death arrives at your door.

If you are not happy, ask God to help you make some changes.
Your life is not meant to be lived later…

Your Life is Now!