First of all, Happy New Year! 2014 starts today. For some of you, the new year couldn’t get here soon enough. For some, you will be sad to see 2013 go. I don’t have bad feelings for 2013, although it started off painful and slow.
2013 started with feeling like it didn’t fit. I was way out of my element. But God allowed draining relationships and projects to end, and I finally found new ventures to start, projects that gave life back to me for all the energy I poured into them.
I’ve been thankful for the new projects and opportunities, but the new feeling only lasted a few days or weeks. Just like anything we start, new has an expiration. And if you’re a new junkie like me, you know the feeling of new becoming old, the feeling of wanting to give up.
I don’t think of myself as having an addictive personality, but I easily get addicted to the rush of new. I always have. I didn’t know it was a rush though. For years, losing the surge of energy that newness carried with it caused me to believe the idea or project or relationship was no longer worth my time. It no longer provided me with the emotional return it once had so I assumed that meant I should abandon it.
Now I know nothing could be further from the truth.
Before I got my first degree, I tried on four different majors and two colleges. I dated around. I started reading books, launched ministries and projects. I bought domain names, and briefly developed them. But as soon as a new and seemingly better idea surfaced, I felt little apprehension leave the old project in the dust.
It took me a long time to realize the value not just of starting but of finishing. So I finished a degree. Then I started a marriage and didn’t give up on it. Then I finished another degree. The more I started and followed through on, the more I saw myself as not only an entrepreneur but a finisher, a crucial but lacking piece of my identity.
What I discovered was, the more commitment something required, the greater the return on investment. My relationships with God, my husband and my son require nearly all my mental, emotional and physical energy. But they give back to me everything I give and more.
Maybe most valuable to my entrepreneurial soul was the lesson that my emotions are not an accurate gage for how important a task or relationship is. Most days, commitment must trump emotion.
Eventually, I stopped avoiding commitment. I found myself on the last page of the books I started. I used more caution when purchasing domain names. I started writing a book, and I haven’t quit. Even though I want to some days. But that’s not how finishers live.
Anyone can start a company, get married, or write the first two chapters of a book. But who will build the company, cultivate the marriage, publish the book? Who will commit? Who is in it for the next decade or four, for better or worse?
I know that new will always bring with it a jolt of energy, a dopamine kick that feels a lot like a drug. But when that wears out, all that is left is the commitment I made to stick this thing out, whatever it is. And the commitment is the only thing that matters in the end.
What keeps us glued to our commitments when we’re sliding off the high of the latest new thing we started? Vision. Goals. Knowing clearly and specifically where I want to go, how I want to get there and who I am going with. This kind of vision prevents us from sliding off track and keeps us from derailing ourselves.
In the next week, I will post a link to a life plan I used last year, as well as my vision-story of what I wanted my life to look like one year ago. As I reread my goals for 2013 today, I was happily surprised to see myself making progress in several of the areas, and I attribute much of that success to creating the vision for it first.
A vision compels and strengthens commitment. Vision empowers and grounds a decision. When we lack vision, a goal or dream for our lives, any path we choose will do. But that’s not living on purpose.
When it comes to making a change or starting a new venture, never underestimate the value of commitment undergirded by clear vision. Although it will be a labor, the clarity and momentum vision brings will always be worth the time.
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