So, how did you start your new year? With a list of promises to yourself about things you were going to change, weight you were going to lose, habits you were going to break, etc.? Does that ever really work? I don’t think so. Even with the best of intentions, life happens, motivation fizzles, and we crumple under the weight of pressures and distractions and overall busyness.
Why is that? Knowing the challenges that always happen, why can’t we ever seem to keep our New Year’s resolutions? Maybe we have a fear of failure. Or we aren’t serious about it. Or it isn’t practical or achievable. Maybe we really are just lazy. Or we’re ignorant of what it takes to get there. Maybe a combination of those.
On that note, I borrowed the photo above from several Facebook posts I’ve seen on December 31, 2015. The funny thing is, 2016 IS A LEAP YEAR! So, there are 366 days. And while it’s easy just to share and pass on things that somebody else came up with, probably last year, maybe we should pay a little more attention to what we blindly pass on because some things could actually matter to get right.
Now, the intended truth behind the above picture has great merit. But regardless of its misapplication to this year, I’d actually take it one step further and say that every tomorrow is a blank page all over again for the rest of your life. And I’d also add that I hope there are more than just 365 pages left in “the book”. But honestly, there may be no more than one, for all we know. So, make every page count, both for now and the future!
I’m not necessarily opposed to New Year’s resolutions. We all probably have them in one form or another. And since any change has to have a starting point of some kind, the start of the new year is a convenient place for a blank page to reset our lives. But I think there might be better ways of going about it. For one thing, my wife had a great suggestion. Make (attainable) goals instead of rigid resolutions. Goals by definition are not as fixed as resolutions, so they can be modified as necessary if we get off track. That way we can take a lot of pressure off ourselves by reducing or even eliminating the guilty feeling of failure. It may be more of a mental game, but it helps.
I’d also suggest focusing on just one goal at a time. So often we make lists of things we want to change, which is fine, but it can become overwhelming to try to take on all of them at once. That can set you up to give up. Plus, it feels a lot more rewarding going one at a time. You can appreciate each goal you accomplish without having the next one looming over you until you finally get to the end of your list. Why wait until then to appreciate your achievements?
And here’s a hard one for many of us: Learn to say no to things. I heard a pastor recently call it the “reverse resolution”. As much as we plan to DO things differently, there are also things we need to NOT do. I get asked to do a lot of things for people, and sometimes I just have to say no. We all need a break sometimes, and now is a good time to free up your schedule a little. Take a little time for yourself to enjoy life and not get so busy. There will always be things to fill your schedule. Don’t forget to schedule some free time as well.
I did see some recent magazine and newspaper articles stating that 2016 will be the year to invest in stocks. Right after that, the stock market set record lows as it slumped following the Chinese market crash. Maybe 2016 will still be a great year to make investments, but for sure you want to focus on investing in your retirement living, especially in Roth IRAs and your 401k, if you have one. Well-known financial expert Dave Ramsey has some great advice and material on that.
We tend to look at New Year’s resolutions as ways we can improve ourselves. One way we can do that is by considering people whom we respect, people who have made a difference in our lives, people who are role models. The other day my wife was reading the “Winter 201-16” edition of Life: Beautiful Magazine, and in particular an article entitled “50 Most Inspiring Christian Women of 2016”. It just made me think about people who have inspired me and how I want to be like them. Another great way to improve your life isn’t just by planning out things, but by doing things. Think about people who inspire you and just quietly begin to be like them. You may just surprise yourself at what you can accomplish.
However you handle New Year’s resolutions, whatever you decide to do or not do or be or not be, just do it. Go. Start now. Blank page or not. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today, for today is the first day of the rest of your life.