As you know by now if you’ve been reading this blog, I am a determined goal-setter. I set goals each year, and I review my goals weekly. This practice has helped me more than I could ever describe. I am excited about the Simple Goals that I set for 2020.

As I was looking over my goals the other week, I became aware that while I was making progress, I had this internal angst that didn’t seem ever to go away. It was as if my internal motor’s idle was set too high. Thinking about this further, I became concerned that in 2020 I might win the battle (achieve my goals) and lose the war (drive myself into the ground). And so, I decided to add one more layer this year. I included a word for the year. The word is “Relax.” My hope is that through singular focus, relaxing will become a part of my wiring.

With concerted effort and focus, I have learned over the years to slow down, quiet down, and set aside time to linger. These practices have been vital in helping me survive difficult days. Still, a deeper change is needed. I need to learn to relax.

Relaxing is a lost art. We binge watch, peruse Instagram, Tik-Tok, and YouTube. We text endlessly. We work out, play online games, and shop. These kinds of activities create a façade of relaxation, but won’t help with the nagging anxiety that is the result of continuous activity. My issue with relaxing is made worse by the guilt that I feel when I take the time to kick back and catch my breath. Practicing the Sabbath each week, which is a built-in day of relaxing, helps, but I need to go further and learn to relax periodically throughout the week. Relaxing is not wrong. It is not something that should make me feel guilty.

How do you relax? What is it that you do to slow the motor and settle the soul? Relaxing is a challenge for me. Yet, I know that my health – physical, emotional, and spiritual – depends on learning to decompress in life-giving ways.

I write this post with two motives. First, I think I am not alone in my struggle to learn to relax. To that end, perhaps we can struggle together, offering fresh creative suggestions. Second, some that read this may not have a problem with relaxing but might choose a different One Word to infuse into 2020. My One Word sits at the top of my daily planner. By September, I may get sick of it, but I won’t forget it. These constant reminders of what is important are how I find that I grow.

I am developing a list of relaxing activities. I know that it is sad that I need a list to help me relax, but maybe after a little while relaxing will come more naturally. I would love to hear your favorite ways to relax. My list needs your help. Maybe you might share your particular One Word for the year to spark someone’s thinking. Around the middle of the year, we can check in together to see how the progress is going.

Here’s to a relaxing 2020!