The last week of the year has become one of my favorite weeks of the year.  It is a week to disengage from work and to relax and have fun with my family.  I have also found it to be a good time to take stock of the past year and look ahead to the one coming up.  While I’m not much of a “new years resolution person,” I do find this week a great time to think about where I’m at, whether or not I like where I’m at, and then come to some decisions about what I am going to do about it.

So, even though I’m on vacation, I wanted to share a few things I’ve been thinking/learning/working on this past week in the hopes that it’ll be helpful to you as you start the new year.

1) Take Responsibility: In 2003 I went from 252 pounds to 205.  I have managed to keep it off for 6 years.  While I thought I was doing great, my doctor still tells me I’m fat and that I need to get down to 180.  So last summer I tried a new diet, rode my bike every day, and got under 200 pounds for the first time since my junior year of college.  Then life got a bit crazy (crazier).  Between the church moving into its own place, the normal stress of the start of a new fall semester in Ithaca, and other assorted craziness, I fell off the wagon.  I stopped eating healthy.  I stopped exercising.  I worked more, ate more, and slept less.  But this week I noticed a trend.  Each time I would reach into the fridge or the cupboard for something I shouldn’t be eating, I’d have a sense that I should skip it, but I’d tell myself, “It’s okay, things are just really stressful.”  “You’ve got a lot going on now…you can worry about getting back on track later.”

As I was thinking about this yesterday, while scrapping paint in our downstairs bathroom, I realized that I was allowing other people, and situations to determine my behavior.  Not a good idea.

If I were to list out the top 10 years of my life…2009 would not make that list.  However, I can’t allow people or situations to keep me from doing the things I need to be doing.   And neither can you.  (if you need a little encouragement, here’s an article by one of my favorite bloggers, Michael Hyatt on having control of your life.)

2) Learn to Rest: I woke up on Saturday morning & realized I had nothing I “had to do.” In fact, for the next 9 days there was nothing I had to do.  I had no work…we weren’t travelling anywhere…nothing.  I don’t remember the last time I could say that.  And it felt really good!

Here’s the thing, the leaders of our church recently did a Strenghtfinders type assessment (SRG, run by one of the guys Benson Smith who used to do Strengthfinders @ Gallup) and one of my top themes is accomplishment.  One of the characteristics of that theme is that getting to the end of a day where nothing was accomplished is stressful…

So how do those two things line up…nothing to do, yet a need to accomplish something.  What I realized is that over the next 9 days, I would accomplish some things…but not because of some deadline, or some pressure hanging over my head, instead, I would accomplish them, because I wanted to.

Now to be honest, over this past week, I’ve done a lot of sleeping, a lot of playing Wii with the kids, and a lot of movies watching with the family.  But at the same time, I’ve gotten some work done around the house…completed a bunch of errands, and had some serious time to think about life & where I’m going.

Getting Started: Just to wrap this up, I thought I’d include a couple of links that might help you think through some of the stuff in your life as you get ready to start the new year.

1) Seven Questions to Ask about Last Year, by Michael Hyatt

2) Wiring Yourself for Success, by Chris Brogan

I want to encourage you to take an hour or two over the next 3-4 days and think about this past year, and think about the year ahead.  It is an investment you’ll get a great return on.