My Single New Year’s Resolution

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Dear Jack,

I’m big on goal setting, on personal improvement, on creating plans.  I’ve been setting annual goals for as long as I can remember.  I certainly don’t always achieve them all … ha, no – not by any stretch.  (Depending on how you measure the completion percentages, I achieved approximately 56% of my goals in 2012.)  But even in the non-achievement of those goals, I feel I’ve bettered myself by the grace of God.

I’m not I wasn’t so big on Resolutions.

People talk annually about their New Year’s Goals and Resolutions.  I’ve always over-weighted goals, and under-weighted Resolutions because I couldn’t really measure them.  This year I decided to keep my Goal list – about 14 SMART goals – but to add one single Resolution.  It’s a phrase I’ve been familiar with for a number of years, but, for a host of reasons, especially resonated with me during December of last year:

Focus on the Signal, Filter out the Noise.

I wrote it down, not quite sure what to do with it, but decided to make it my Resolution for 2013 and see what happened.

We are bombarded with messages every day – Twitter, Facebook, email, TV, Radio, friends, family, kids, billboards, co-workers, bosses, clients, news channels.  It’s overwhelming.  And it’s not that all these messages are bad – some of them are good.  But they’re too much, at least for me.  I lose track of the Signal when my senses are overwhelmed by the Noise.

So I started doing things, slowly and intentionally, to Filter out the Noise in order to better Focus on the Signal.  Here’s a partial list so far:

  1. Cut those I follow on Twitter by 10% (amazing how many messages are sent out per minute)
  2. Stopped replying to personal email during the work day that took more than 1 or 2 mins to address (amazing how distracted I can get by talking about the Steelers or church doctrine)
  3. Stopped checking Facebook unless I was expecting a message or reply (amazing how long you can surf the News Feed and not realize how long it’s been)
  4. Keep the radio and music off on my commute to work (amazing how distracting news updates or personal opinions cloud my thoughts)
  5. Stopped entertaining job opportunities (amazing how happy I am at work until someone brags about the green grass on their side)
  6. Unsubscribed from countless email newsletters from companies or organizations that I just don’t care much about (amazing how many newsletters I’ve foolishly signed up for)

Like I said, none of these in and of themselves are bad.  But each was keeping me from Focusing on a particular Signal that I knew I needed to be Focusing on.

I can’t say I’ve taken many steps at this point to intentionally Focus on the signal, mainly because I’m surprised how much easier it’s been to do so since I started Filtering out the Noise.  For the most part, I know what I need to do each day, each month, each year to follow the Signal.  It’s more of a battle to actually do it.

I’m not sure what Signals needed Focused on and what Noises need Filtered out in your life, Jack.  But I’m sure there are some.  I’m also sure that no matter how much Noise I filter out this year, there will be plenty more in the coming years.  And one more surety: I’m sure that God uses these Signals as direction beacons in our lives, so once we know what’s a Signal, we need to be deliberate in paying attention to it.

Till next time, Jack.



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