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 Chorus: 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.