Can you believe it? We are already looking at 2018 through our rear-view mirror. Wow! The year was quite the roller-coaster ride for me personally; highlighted by the birth of two grandchildren and the completion of my first children’s book.
I’m kind of a slow learner, so in 2018, after 48 full years of life, I finally decided to really practice what I preach. If you pay attention to my social posts at all, you may have noticed that I had resurrected the lessons I’d learned from our old family dog Toby, after his passing, to form the fifteen children’s books I plan to write. These lessons were intended to guide those who need them for a better life, but I had tucked them away because I didn’t really think my words were worth hearing.
I made the decision in February of 2018 that I would let you make that decision instead. One of the lessons is to “be yourself.” I was afraid to be myself. Luckily, bravery to be yourself often comes with age, but I also think I came to the realization that I may be able to improve my own life by following these lessons. Then, as a result, I may be able to help at least one other person in my lifetime.
So, after I completed my first book, and the manuscript for the second one, I spent the last few months of 2018 fine tuning the lessons and considering how I might apply them to my own life. I came up with this list of #19for2019 inspired by the fifteen lessons from Toby.
In order to make change and improvements in our life, we need to show up and we must actually generate action; make an effort. As scripture says, “faith, without action, is dead.” (James 2:14-26) I see life that way too. “Life, without action, is dead.” I see a meaningful life as one that is always moving. Some people find meaning in solitude and self-serving, but I think most of us need interaction with others and opportunities to give and to love. The breakdown of actions for a meaningful life falls into three categories for me: reach up, reach in, reach out.
I truly believe that it all begins with our beginning, our Creator. If we don’t have an active relationship with God (or whatever higher being you connect with), then we are not starting out on the right foot. Reach up first.
Begin that true connection with God, then reach in. We should always take time to get our mind and heart right. Then, once we possess a joy and peace inside, we are ready to reach out to the world.
Here are all of Toby’s life lessons. Download your own copy here. Subscribe to Toby's email list and select "Adult Inspiration" on the form. I dive deeper into each of these lessons, and include the text from the original blog I wrote about these lessons back in 2012.
Here is my list of improvement goals for 2019, inspired by Toby's lessons above. If you haven’t devised your plan to move and grow this year, maybe this will help.
1. Be thankful for one new blessing every day (II. Smile)
2. Pray for loved ones daily (XII. Live a life of meaning)
3. Read a devotion or scripture each night (XIV. Explore)
4. Create a daily goal and go after it with complete focus (I. Never Give Up)
5. Smile at myself in the mirror daily (II. Smile)
6. Eat healthy foods and exercise daily - (1 gallon of water daily) (IV. Take Many Walks)
7. Surround myself with good and smart people (V. Have good friends)
8. Learn something new every day (VI. Learn every day)
9. Talk to others in person or phone/video instead of text (VII. Look others in the eye)
10. Compliment myself and others daily (VIII. Love yourself and others)
11. Forgive myself and others when needed (IX. Forgive yourself and others)
12. Accept change (X. Change is good)
13. Live a full life and create experiences (XI. Eat some chocolate)
14. Be myself (XIII. Be yourself)
15. Write music every day (XV. Enjoy the arts daily)
16. Hug my loved ones daily (III. Be a cuddler)
17. Do good things for friends and family daily (V. Be a good friend)
18. Be intentionally positive and smile at others every day (II. Smile, VIII. Love yourself and others)
19. Volunteer at least once a month (XII. Live a life of meaning)
Download a journal guide for my #19for2019 list here.
Justin Ehrman is a husband, father, author and singer/songwriter.