Sunday, January 10, 2016

A New Year's Re-Solution.

We are officially ten days of 2016 deep. For you stat geeks out there, that means that we are 2.74% of the way through the year already. Unless this is a leap year, which I don’t think is the case. I guess I could Google it. Oh wait, it is a leap year. Now I’ve got to do some braining again.

2.73%. You get the point.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve already broken your New Year’s Resolutions. Or, maybe you didn’t even make any this year, because you knew you were going to break them anyway.

Why do we naively expect resolutions to last, anyway? Why do we think that through an act of sheer willpower, we can change ourselves into completely different people when the ball drops at midnight on New Year’s?

According to research from the University of Scranton, only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s goals. Not one of them? Neither am I. Furthermore, 72% of New Year’s resolutions are too vague and unattainable anyway, according to a study whose results I have completely fabricated.

The secret to change, I think lies in the word resolution itself. Simply breaking apart the word in a new way gives me a little hope. It’s not about resolving to change once and for all, but rather about finding solutions, over and over again. Finding the re-solution.

Change usually happens in tiny increments, not in massive chunks. Did you resolve to eat better? Your cravings for unhealthy foods aren’t going to disappear overnight. Rather, you need to choose, on a daily basis, to order the salad instead of the pizza, the water instead of the Coke. So you broke weak on January 9 and got the Triple Bacon Cheeseburger? That doesn’t mean that you should give up on your resolution entirely. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Who throws babies out, anyway? I believe that’s a crime. Rather, simply go back to making a better choice the next time you’re out to eat or at the grocery store.

We can’t change the past. We can change the future. Choice by choice by little choice.

Did you resolve to be a better parent on January 1, yet find yourself screaming at your kids on January 10? Don’t give up. Don’t beat yourself up. Go hug them and say you’re sorry. Life is a series of moments in a row. Just because the last moment didn’t go as planned doesn’t mean that the next moment is ruined, too. 

Where does the word resolution come from, anyway? The Online Etymology Dictionary states that it stems from the Latin word resolutionem, which refers to “the process of reducing things into simpler forms.”

This is beautiful. And powerful. 

How often do we try to make things too complicated? How often do we set goals that are out of our reach? 

Life is about finding simplicity in a cluttered, frenetic world. Our goals should be simple, too. Goals that reflect what’s truly important in our lives. What if we resolved to love a little bit more? To give a little bit more? To listen a little bit more? What would 2016 look like if we didn’t give up on these goals, but chose them every single day of the year?

Change starts today. And tomorrow. And the day after that. Slowly but surely, by God’s grace, we become more and more of the people we want to be.