We’re two weeks into the New Year. How are your resolutions going?
Mine are – and I have never uttered these words before – going well. For the first time ever, I find myself heading into week three not cursing the workout regime I’ve already slacked from or lamenting the prayer discipline I’ve already dropped.
Because this year, I made my resolutions in a drastically different fashion. Which is to say: I made them uber-realistic.
I’m a busy mother of two young kids. I cancelled my gym membership halfway through my last pregnancy, and I have no plans to renew it anytime soon. I love cooking, but I don’t have the luxury of lingering over exotic new recipes. So instead of setting myself up for another February failure in the resolution department, I got practical.
1) I started planning early. Resolution #1? To work more intentionally on my writing this year. Push it in new directions, polish up rough corners, ponder what might lie ahead. So back in December, I found a monthly writing group to join and two workshops – spaced far apart throughout the year – to try. Realistic enough that I could squeeze it in; big enough to challenge me. But I knew I had to start early to make it stick.
2) I erred on the side of vague. Resolution #2? To become more generous. My husband asked me what this one meant, and I told him I didn’t really know. I just knew I had room for improvement in the generosity department. But since vagueness grates on me as one who loves clarity, I’ve made myself look at generosity from many angles. Small ones (like leaving a bigger tip for baristas) and big ones (like reassessing how I can volunteer the little free time I have). Vagueness has meant my resolution has already surprised me in delightful ways.
3) I consciously thought about them every day. Resolution #3? To celebrate the joy in my life. Too often I zero in on all that’s out-of-place, still-not-done, not-good-enough. So every day since January 1, I’ve taken a moment or two to pause and let the reality of my life bring me joy. I’ve seen my marriage, my family, my work, and even my to-do list differently since I started practicing a little joyfulness each day.
So since this is the first January I’ve ever celebrated – instead of cursed – my good intentions for the new year, allow my joy (see #3) to be your cheerleader.
First, go read this. And pat yourself on the back for all that you’re already doing to thrive in the life you already live. Give yourself credit for the changes you have made, even if you’re surrounded by the chaos of raising children.
When I sat back and reflected, I realized that since having kids, I have: 1) become more serious about my writing; 2) become more committed to yoga. Two goals I had for years, but never acted up until: 1) I needed a creative outlet to process my transition into motherhood and started this lovely little blog; 2) I needed to tend to my aching pregnant body and fell back in love with yoga. Two resolutions that have changed my life for the better, because of – not despite! – my mothering.
Second, give yourself a break. January 1 is an arbitrary day on which to change your life. Start today, or start tomorrow. But don’t get bogged down by dates. Just take one small, practical, first step.
Want to jump-start your prayer life? Try a free sample of this wonderful daily resource here. (Or see below for more!) Want to go green? Ask someone else how they do it. Imagine how your life would look or feel if you made the change that’s been nagging you for years. And then imagine what dreams God has for your life. How can you clear a little room for the Spirit to sneak into a new corner and surprise you?
Happy New Year, belatedly. And happy resolving. It’s never too late.
To celebrate 2012 – and my 200th post in this corner of the world! – I have 10 free 3-month subscriptions to Give Us This Day, a new daily prayer resource from Liturgical Press. Morning and evening prayers short enough for busy parents, daily reflections on Scripture from wise thinkers, and glimpses of saints’ lives from around the world and church.
Give Us This Day is a gem, and I’d love to share it with you. Leave a comment below with your New Year’s resolution (or lack thereof!) and I’ll toss your name in the hat.