As we enter the year 2021 together, you’re going to hear a lot of self-actualization talk, about being the you that you always dreamed about being.
It’s popular fodder in columns like this, easy fodder for platitudes and motivational words to make 2021 your year.
Let’s go against the flow: Let’s make 2021 someone else’s year.
Or, as Bishop Robert Barron likes to say, “Your life is not about you.”
It’s something that was clear to me once I became a husband and a father. I went from having a starring role in my own drama to having a supporting role in a more important one, namely my family. I found more happiness in that than I did in the decade of chasing my own goals and dreams.
I suppose that’s the secret of it, that being selfless sometimes brings with it great joy.
I look at the new year and think about all the things that need to change in my life.
I need to lose 20 pounds. It’s not because my doctor told me, or I want to look more fit. It’s so I can play longer with my kids without getting winded.
I need to eat healthier. It’s not in chasing that 20-pound goal, though. It’s so those around me can see the benefits of eating healthier foods. I see too many of my own bad eating habits popping up in their choices.
I need to show more gratitude. There are plenty of people out there trying to help make my visions a reality, and they deserve to know how meaningful their contributions are.
I need to not just go with the flow sometimes. It’s worth having principles and flexing them, for the sake of the world.
I need to use the tool of the internet and not let it use me. Too often I mindlessly flip through social media, only allowing them to earn more money off my information. I need to pull away from technology and be more mindful of the world around me.
These issues apply to me. Perhaps you have some in common. Perhaps yours are totally different. Whatever the case, I know I’ve failed in rectifying them in the past. I suspect it’s because I tried changing for my own sake, and I’m really good at lying to myself and saying I didn’t need to change.
Now I’m thinking about who needs me to change — my wife, my children, my coworkers — and somehow it matters more to me that I can’t let them down, even if I can let myself down.
So that’s my goal for this year. I want it to be someone else’s year, namely my wife, my children, my coworkers. And I don’t want to live a life that’s about me. I need to live a life that’s about those people who matter most.