The first thing that thought of when Joy challenged me (or we challenged each other) to do a blog about new years was a song from the 90s by Carolyn Arends. I pulled the first few lyrics from elyrics.net to explain my approach to New Years
New Year's Day Lyrics [excerpt]
I buy a lot of diaries
Fill them full of good intentions
Each and every New Year's Eve
I make myself a list
All the things I'm gonna change
Until January 2nd
So this time I'm making one promise
This will be my resolution
Every day is New Year's Day
The song goes on about a life of belief and making changes, but I want to focus on this first part. I like this idea that I don’t really need to wait until New Years to make a change. I just need to decide that something is important and live into the change. However, experience and lines 5 & 6 of the song point out how temporary [New Years] resolutions are. The silliness of New years resolutions is such a meme that people joke about how quickly their resolutions will be broken. To me, rather than being silly, this frustration that makes me feel like a failure.
The next thing I thought was that Joy is pushing me to make a New years resolution to get more fit (eat better, get more active, etc). It takes work and focus stop sitting around like a bump on a log and attend to to what I am putting into my mouth, so I am reluctant to commit to a change like that. As I pointed out earlier, this is to avoid that sense of failure as much as anything. That said, I am not happy that my belly impedes my ability to bend over, and I know that some of my physical ailments would go away if I were in better shape.
There have only been a couple new years resolutions that took well for me. In college, I once resolved to do 100 sit-ups a day. It wasn’t perfect, but that year I remember feeling good about it … especially when my brother commented my physical fitness. Another time I resolved to listen to the bible in a year via the Daily Audio Bible podcast. That resolution started around May rather than January, and I think that it basically worked. Notice that both of these were actual 1 year resolutions and less daunting. They were easier to commit to, because there was an endpoint in sight. When it comes to making changes for a better whole life, like eat better, I don’t want to plan for them to end.
So I guess I feel like a weasel setting this up. On the one hand, the lyrics to that song show how ridiculous it is to set up a resolution that I will keep only until I quit and then feel like a failure. On the other hand that Chorus suggests “Every day is New Year’s Day.” In a way it sounds like a good 12 steppers philosophy: “One day at a time.” Or “keep coming back … it works if you work it.” So what can I stand to improve? A lot, I want to Learn more about God, and find a way to truly enjoy him. I want to be a better father and leader in my home. I want to help my wife not to feel so overwhelmed with our household. I even want to live in a healthier, slimmer, more toned body.
I am not ready to make commitments to all these things at once. But my actions (or inactions) have consequences and I do not want to give up on doing good. My resolution is to not give up on improving. I feel like I have gotten lazy spiritually, occupationally, relationally, and personally/physically. My resolution is to intentionally improve one thing listed in purple above as often as I can remember, and I hope and pray that I can remember at least daily. And when I give up on that: today can be new years day.
What I have above is not meant to be a specific one action resolution. To clarify, it is about approach. I want avoid the frustration of giving up on a new years resolution, so instead I am resolving to take things one day at a time and not feel frustrated about yesterday, but instead see what I can do about making todays 153 become tomorrows 154. I will look back on a daily basis and rate (in the book that Joy gave me) how it went and maybe plan for the next day. Instead of seeing a failed past and whining about history, I hope that I can accept the gift that is the present, and relax about the mystery of the future.