I’m not a huge fan of New Years. I especially do not like New Years resolutions. Why? Because it seems like every year people decide that the following year is going to be better. They’ll lose some weight, or they’ll have better romances, or they’ll reach some goal that they’ve had forever but always seems just outside their grasp. And most of the time, nothing will change. Nothing will change because the person making the resolution is essentially the same as they’ve always been, and an arbitrary day coming and going and putting a new calendar up on the wall really doesn’t change anything. The New Year only means change if the person changes, and just deciding you want things to be different doesn’t do anything; that is, unless you decide how.
How to lose the weight? How to love better? How to finally run that mile or write that book or get that grade? How, precisely, will you do it? The magic of the New Year will not do it for you. The New Year is a fickle friend who will turn on you in a heart beat, curdling your resolutions and giving you the opposite instead. Like the Genie in the lamp, you cannot wish well enough to get precisely what you want. If you worship the holiday season you will find it is a trickster god. It promises you health and wealth and togetherness but instead it bloats your credit card bill and sparks fights between families and leaves you with the stomach flu.
It’s just not magic, it’s not. Especially the New Year. Nothing Changes. Time rolls onward and our world only changes when we do. That’s not to say that things don’t eventually get better. You’ll meet all your goals if you truly commit yourself to it. You can lose those pounds and write that novel. You can change the patterns of your life. You can. Just understand that patterns resist changing, and the only way to break out of the old mold and make yourself a new one is continuous, deliberate choice. Picture the future novelist resolving to write their book, finally, and then waiting for inspiration. Days and weeks pass and they barely add to the word count. Months pass and they see the next year starting to loom. But there’s this, and that, and the other thing, and pretty soon they are saying, “next year. Next year I will really do it.” Why? Why do we do this to ourselves?
Because we don’t understand. We don’t understand the way life gets in the way. We live in survival mode. We’ve forgotten how to have priorities. We don’t know anymore how to wake up in the morning and say, “I said I’m going to lose ten pounds so today I will not eat sugar. Today I will eat healthy. Today I will plan ahead.”
We live as if life is something that happens to us, not something we do.
If you make one resolution for yourself this year, make it this:
This year I will recognize that life is something I act out, not something that happens to me. I will live it intentionally for myself.
Everything else comes second to that decision. Trust me, I know. My marriage didn’t happen to me, I happened to my marriage. The same was true with my jobs and my dreams and my children. Nothing started making sense until I realized that in some very real way I was the center of my universe, and the gravitational pull I emanated could either bring me hope or more crap. I had to wake up every morning with intent, with a plan, with a goal. I had to stop being a casualty of my own life.
I have a lot of goals for the next year. I will get back to a healthy size and lifestyle. I will write a novel. I will publicize my books and be intentional about getting my voice out into the world again. I will not drop things when they get too hard. I will make myself strong enough to carry through.
But those aren’t New Year’s resolutions.
They are decisions that do not rely on an arbitrary date or magic.
So don’t torture yourselves, friends. Respect yourselves and your power in your own lives. God gave you your body, your heart, your mind, your dreams. God gave you your life. Live it.