The Character Movement

Who do you want to be in 2016?

By Ben Nordquist, Communications Intern & On-Call Retreat Staff

Last year my New Year’s resolution was to journal every day. I remember it well, mostly because of how little I wrote in my journal this past year and how often I told myself I should.

Those who knew me well would check in every once in awhile and ask how journaling was going — I usually avoided the question altogether or tried to remember what I wrote about several weeks ago so I could share about my most “recent” entry. Fortunately, I know I am not alone in this annual struggle. Every year on January 1st, gym membership sales spike, stores sell out of planners and we run out of space on our phones largely due to the addition of apps promising more productive lives. We latch on to the New Year as an opportunity to start over and start doing things we know we should be doing but aren’t. While the New Year always brings hope for change, it often feels like the only things we truly change are the two numbers we write at the end of the date… and even that takes weeks of practice. This New Year, instead of just focusing on one action that I think will better my life I want to focus on who I am becoming.

Rather than asking “What do you want to do in 2016?” I’m more interested in the question “Who do you want to be in 2016?” Instead of focusing on doing more or less we should focus on becoming more. Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t create goals for the New Year, I think it’s important to challenge ourselves through actionable steps. Rather than just talking about the little changes we want to make next year, let’s use the energy and hope the New Year brings to have important conversations with our friends, family and peers about character and how we want to grow in the coming year. It’s important to reflect on where we are and push ourselves to live in ways that benefit and improve the lives of those around us. I asked this question of my coworkers at Youth Frontiers, and I felt inspired by so many of their answers:

I want to be…

  • courageous
  • the relentless architect of possibility
  • a great listener
  • an instrument of reconciliation and peace
  • creatively engaged with my work and my artwork
  • a dream weaver

…in 2016.

When we focus on who we want to become, we are so much more than just a group of people with to-do lists asking each other if we are remembering to read more and eat less. Shifting our own focus towards who we want to be allows us to see others in the same light; as courageous, peacemakers, listeners and so much more. This year, let’s reflect on our character more than our to-do lists and build communities that grow and affirm who we want to be.

At the cusp of the New Year last year, I made the resolution to journal every day — what I really wanted was to practice a year of mindfulness and self-care. As the year progressed, I wished more people asked if I was finding time for reflection and taking care of myself, not just when I last opened my journal. This year I encourage you to stick to the resolutions you made, but I also invite you to join me in worrying less about what you want to do and instead ask yourself: Who do you want to be in 2016?

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