Why a New Year Doesn’t Matter

Everyone is so focused on the New Year. “I’ll see you next year!” patients told me with excitement.

I wonder why a new year is so exciting. Is it because we see it as a fresh start? Maybe. Is it because we think we get a do over? “I didn’t like how last year went, but I get another chance for this year?” Perhaps.

I contend, however that a small mental shift could give us this gusto in our everyday lives. First, God says His compassions are new every morning. You can read it for yourself in the Bible (Lamentations 3:22-23). While the law of cause and effect is very real, chances are, what you did yesterday will stay there, giving you a fresh start today. You’re forgiven; it’s in the past.

Second, realizing success is an inside job and rarely, if ever, has to do with your circumstances. You can take on whatever challenges you want, whenever you want. A New Year is not a prerequisite.

Finally, success comes from consistent effort over time with God’s help and favor. Dave Ramsey explains this with his formula:

(Consistent Effort / Time) x God

So neither a new year nor a new day are required. Decide what you want, write it down, and consistently work toward it. You can have whatever you want if you get crystal clear about exactly what it is.

Make today count. Not because it’s a new year, but because you have decided to go get what you want.

That’s Crazy

My wife and I recently took a Caribbean cruise for her birthday. There was a moment where I was sitting in a hot tub, with fresh ocean air brushing against my face, and, as technology would have it, I was watching ESPN on a 42 inch LCD mounted above the hot tub while simultaneously watching the most picturesque sunset I have ever seen. I was talking to a man in his late 40s from Brazil who was in very good physical condition. He had a thin, athletic build, and because of that, I had instant respect for his level of discipline. Perhaps that makes me superficial, but it’s true. Anyone who can be in that good of shape has discipline, at least in the area of physical fitness.

During our conversation, I learned he is also a business owner, and he owns three restaurants. I thought to myself, How does this guy own three business with all those employees, stay in this great of shape, and seem so calm and relaxed? I put my student hat on and started asking questions.

“Do you have kids?” I asked.

“No. No kids.” He replied.

“What did you do before you owned your restaurants?”

He answered passionately, “I played professional football.” Remember, in Brazil, football is soccer.

No wonder he’s in good shape, I thought. In an attempt to validate my excuse for not being as fit as he is, I asked, “When did you retire?”

“30 years ago.” he informed me.

Ouch! That sucks! I have absolutely no excuse now. I’m nearly two decades younger than this guy, and his fitness puts me to shame. As if he could see my sense of turmoil, he offered, “I live 3 blocks from the ocean. Every morning, I run on the beach from 7:30 until 9 or 9:30. Then I get ready and go to work.”

“Wow! You run an hour and half to two hours a day?” I asked in amazement.

“Yes…” he said, in his laid back demeanor.

“What do you do with your mind for that long?” I asked.

He told me he listens to his music.

“I would go nuts – I can’t keep my mind occupied for that long.” I admitted reluctantly.

His next two words had a profound impact on me: “That’s crazy.” That’s it. That’s all he said. “That’s crazy.” And you know what? He’s right. That is crazy.  What is so important in my life that I can’t be away from stuff for that long?

He didn’t offer me a 7 step process on how to quiet my mind so I could run and not go crazy. He didn’t offer me a book or a blog on runner’s boredom. Just two profound words, “That’s crazy.”

Here’s my point: sometimes we have a tendency to complicate things. Simple things become complicated for no reason. So next time you are facing a dilemma (or better yet, the current dilemma you’re facing), look for the simple solution. I’m sure there is one. And if you can’t find it, look for a disciplined, laid back Brazilian in a hot tub, and he might have some words of wisdom for you.

My Thoughts on 9/11

11 years ago today, things changed.  I recalled my experience and was amazed at how real my memories are.

World Trade Center Building 1

World Trade Center Building 1

During the summer of 2001, my close friends got married, and, after the honeymoon, they moved into their apartment in the same complex I lived in and life was grand.  My friend and I would ride our motor bikes, he and his wife, and my fiance (now wife, Kari) and I would go on double dates; it was awesome.

Then, in August, they decided on a whim to move back where there families live…1200 miles away.  This broke my heart because I knew he was saying goodbye to his dreams.  It also was very difficult personally to have close friends move away.

Well, the night of September 10th, I dreamed about my friends.  I dreamed that we were back together again and having fun like we used to.  And then I woke up.  I was sad and irritated that the joy I had just experienced was only in my dreams.  So I did what I typically do when my heart was heavy – I read my Bible.

That morning was particularly fitting.  I read about how Israel had its temple, the symbol of the relationship the Israelite people have with God, completely destroyed.  In essence, their entire existence was shaken because their temple had been demolished.  Their identity was tarnished and it was bad news.

What I gleaned from that passage was that change is inevitable.  I guess I’d better get used to it.

In an eerily ironic fashion, my phone rang at the precise moment I closed my Bible.  My Dad was on the other end of the call and told me I needed to turn on the news.  I don’t watch the news and I never have (as a regular occurrence), so I was taken back that my Dad even suggested I turn it on.

He knows I don’t watch the news, I thought to myself.  What in the world is he wanting to me to see?  We’re in different time zones – what sort of news would we both be able to see?

As I turned on the news, I watched the plane fly into the South tower of the World Trade Center.  While I had no idea what happened or why, I found myself immediately in a total sense of calm and peace.

Oh yeah, change happens, I remembered from just moments earlier.

While I am absolutely not trivializing the needless and tragic deaths of the 2,752 people known to have died in the World Trade Center events alone, I am simply stating that we don’t have to attach the meaning we once attached to the iconic buildings that once stood tall in Manhattan.

My heart and prayers go out to the countless lives that were forever changed 11 years ago today.

Are you a person who fears change or resists it?  Why?

What I Learned Riding The Tea Cups

My wife and I have taken our kids to Disney for the first time.  In short, it’s simply amazing!

While riding the tea cups (the ride where you control how fast you spin), I gave my kids some helpful advice.  I said, “If you’re getting dizzy, look at my nose, and don’t take your eyes off.”  Upon sharing, it dawned on me: this is what we need to do when life seems to be spinning out control.

Spinning Out of Control

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto: http://jonathanlazar.com/istock

In my own life, when life gets crazy, it’s usually because I have taken my focus off God, as He’s my source and strength.  If that’s different in your life, the principle still applies.  Focus on what matters: family, faith, hope, etc.  Doing so will surely keep you from getting sick during hectic times.

What do you focus on when you feel out of control?  Does it help or hurt your situation?

Why Community Is So Important

I had a close friend of mine visit from Pennsylvania this weekend.  It was wonderful being together.  We went to the same chiropractic school, studied similar specialties, are both married, self-employeed, and have three kids.  Very few people are so similar.

Happy childhood - photo courtesy of Istockphoto.com.  Image #912613 http://jonathanlazar.com/istock

Photo courtesy of Istockphoto: http://jonathanlazar.com/istock

While my friend and his family were visiting, I noticed a few things:

  1. I needed him here to have conversations with someone who ‘gets it’.  He understands what it’s like to be facing some of the issues I deal with.  Having time with him helped me feel understood and valued.
  2. He needed to be here so he could bounce ideas off me.  I run a different practice than he does, and I do things differently with my time than he does.  To hear how someone does it differently helps us question our reasons for doing things, and, thus, helps us grow.
  3. Our wives needed time with each other.  They both deal with husbands who are unusually passionate about their work, they both work outside the home (one part time, one full time), they both have small kids to care for, and they both have similar interests.
  4. Our kids, a combined six of them, needed to spend time together.  All their daddies are chiropractors, all their mommies are incredible servants.  They needed time with kids whose parents share similar values, and they needed to play hard with kids who are happy, healthy, and ready to play at 200%.

Not having our needs met means we’re not available to serve others at our best.  Think about it: when you’re on a jet, you are advised to place your own oxygen mask on before  you assist a child.  In the same way, when we have our needs met, we can serve others from a position of wholeness.  Being around others who are safe also helps us to validate our ambitions.  When we know we’re not alone, we feel safer and more empowered to keep moving forward.

This weekend, my wife, myself, and our kids had our need to connect met.  We are going into a busy week full, rested, and ready to serve.  Community is a vital part of who we are.  Look for opportunities to live in community.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Have a ‘date night’ where you will spend time with other couples.  Your season in life will determine these guidelines.  Kari (my wife) and I make it point to intentionally be with other couples at least twice per month.
  • If you go to church, look for a small group setting that has other people in a similar life stage.  The support will be unbelievable.
  • Find service opportunities where you can give back using your gifts and talents.  We know, “it’s better to give than receive.”  We also know, “to whom much is given, much is required.” Give of your resources with a cheerful heart.

What needs do you need met, and what is your plan to meet them?


Living is Giving

We’ve all heard it said that, “Living is giving.”  It’s absolutely true. Love is only love if you give it away.  Healing only occurs if you share your experience.  Anything worth experiencing in life is so much better when you share it with someone else.  Increase the quality of your life by increasing the quality of others’ lives.

Give love away today.  Share love.  Add massive value to those around you, knowing the only thing you’ll get in return is simply the satisfaction that you made someone else’s life better!

No go do it!