Ah, the new year. As soon as the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, something shifts in us, doesn’t it? The whole world seems to collectively sigh in relief that the old is over, the new has begun, and anything is possible now. Perhaps it’s not quite as dramatic as all that, but that’s the gist.
It seems everyone has big plans for the new year. Even my 9-year-old made a list of resolutions that certainly surpassed my own level of ambition. Don’t get me wrong—starting new things is great. There’s something so refreshing and invigorating about resolving to start anew.
But I think the new year also opens up a door to another type of change. We get the chance to stop doing things that didn’t serve us in the past. We get to take an honest look at the habits and behaviors that have caused us stress and suffering in previous years, and resolve to put a stop to those things. What we decide to stop doing, I would argue, can be just as important as the new commitments we make for the year.
So, here are 5 things to STOP doing in 2019, to transform your year for the better:
- Putting your passion last. If there’s one thing I learned in 2018, it’s that your dream won’t become a reality unless you make it a priority. And everything can’t be a priority. You have to choose the things that are truly the most important to you, and intentionally make time for them—that simply doesn’t happen automatically. Life will take over, people will demand other things of you, and before you know it another year will go by and it’ll still just be a dream. Don’t let it happen. Pinpoint the thing you really want to accomplish this year, and put a plan in place to see it through.
- Trying to make everyone happy. You might be the easiest-going, nicest, most pleasant person out there, and there will still be someone who has a problem with you. Don’t make people pleasing a way of life, because you’ll inevitably be let down—and you’ll likely lose yourself in the process. If you’ve set your feet upon truth and are living out love and grace to the best of your ability, that is enough. You are enough. Don’t let other people’s expectations of you—which can often be unrealistic, self-serving and unreasonable—dictate the decisions you make. Set healthy boundaries for yourself and your family, and resist the urge to give in at the first sign of someone else’s disappointment.
- Putting off important get-togethers. If there’s somebody you’ve been meaning to meet up with but your schedules just haven’t coordinated, make it happen. Life is busy and we are all juggling things, but we need each other. Time invested in relationships is never wasted. I saw a lot of friends and family lose people in 2018, and it was a sobering reminder that our time with each other here is finite. Let’s stop putting our time together on the back burner. Will that mean inconveniencing yourself and possibly disrupting your routine? Probably. But consider the cost of not investing in that relationship until it’s too late. Choose relationships over busyness.
- Perpetuating toxic habits. Not just things like eating too many donuts and drinking too much wine—but also the habits that are eating away at your soul. Negative self-talk. Gossiping about others. Losing your temper. Taking your spouse for granted. Obsessing over your social media image. Constantly comparing yourself to others. Foregoing self-care. Let 2019 be the year of intentionality and of setting your mind and heart on what is good. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
- Rushing the good. Our go-go-go society is obsessed with the next thing. You got a promotion? Congrats, but what’s next? Don’t stop to smell the roses or you might miss the next opportunity. You just got married? Great! When’s the baby coming? Pausing to truly celebrate something, and to reflect about the good that’s happened, isn’t a common practice. When we actually stop to reflect on the wins, big or small, we engage in gratitude. We don’t take the good things for granted as easily. We may just find that our lives are filled to the brim with goodness and wonder, if we would just pause long enough to recognize it.
What Are You Quitting This Year?
This is certainly not a comprehensive list of things to quit in 2019. In fact, I urge you to come up with your own list of quittables for the new year. Maybe you need to stop following some people on social media who make you feel inadequate. Or maybe you’re just stretched too thin and you need to drop some commitments that aren’t serving you and your family. Whatever it is that’s holding you back, resolve to drop it in 2019. Resolve to stop doing the things that leave you empty and broken, and run toward everything that is life-giving and God-breathed and truly good.