The idea of New Year’s resolutions have always stymied me. On the one hand, I understand the desire to have a fresh start, but the truth is we make these resolutions to make ourselves feel better. We make these resolutions because, deep down, we all want a clean start and a new hope. A hope that this year will be better, that WE will be better, and a hope that our world and communities will be better.
The problem is, rarely do we keep these resolutions. Obviously it’s not for lack of trying or lack of want, rather it’s because we sabotage ourselves from the very beginning. As a new year begins we inevitable look back. We see our successes, our failures, our joys and losses, and all the mundane moments in between. Unfortunately, it tends to be our failures and our losses that seem to be pushed to the forefront of our minds. We go into making new resolutions remembering all the same resolutions we have already failed at accomplishing.
I have always found it remarkably easy to find excuses as to why my resolutions will fail. I will have a conversation with myself saying that, “I will do this” or, “I will accomplish that”, yet all the while, in the back of my head, I’ll be making a list of all the reasons it will be too difficult to tackle.
Think about it. How much time do we spend on making excuses for our poor behavior and/or lifestyles? We blame our parents, the stress of life, our families, our lack of money, the people around us, our schedules, and the list can go on and on. It’s easier to blame external circumstances than to take ownership for our own shortcomings.
In my mind, 2016 was filled with shortcomings. Or to put it another way, 2016 kind of sucked. I will look back at 2016, not in fondness of all the things I accomplished or learned, but with an overwhelming sense of apathy. I look back and I say to myself, “You are pretty much the same as you were at the beginning of the year”. “How did that even happen?!” Strangely enough, 2016 was the first year (in many) that I did not lay out any resolutions for myself. Coincidence? I submit that it is not!
Resolutions serve a purpose, even if those resolutions fail. Resolutions push us. They challenge us. When we take the time to make resolutions we are taking the time to have some introspection. We take time to see things that (maybe) should change, or identify ways to be better versions of ourselves.
Resolutions aren’t bad, but goals sure are better.
Goals are a natural extension of resolutions. Goals are resolutions with built-in grace. When you fail at a resolution you beat yourself up and say, “well, maybe next year”. With a goal it becomes asking yourself the question, “what did I do today to get me closer to my goal?”. They should be specific, realistic, and measurable. They should motivate you, be written down, and reviewed regularly.
Goals, like resolutions, push us and help us tackle things that we want to see made different. However, unlike resolutions, goals are made any day at anytime of the year. Yes, it is a new year with new opportunities, but every day is a chance for a fresh start. Why put so much pressure on yourself jut because the calendar says January 1st?
If you have never taken the time to delve into the world of “TED Talks”, you really should. There is a plethora of great “talks” that deal with goal setting. Far more intelligent people than I have insights on setting goals. With all that in mind, and believing in being open and honest about what I intend to embark upon, here are my 2017 goals.
- Read 36 books by December 31st, 2017
- Run a 10k April 1st in Richmond, VA
- Run my second half marathon by November 20th, 2017 (location TBD)
- Spend 30 minutes studying the Bible 5 days a week
- Eat two Vegan meals, and one regular meal per day (vacations not included!)
- Serve outside of the church twice a month
- Go on two dates a month with my wife
- Move on in my career by July 1st, 2017
- Hand write, and send, one letter a week to people whom I know (or have at least met once)
Here is to fresh starts and new opportunities (no matter the time of year)!
Until next time…