Guest Blog - Resolution or Absolution?
New Year's Eve and January 1 (insert year here) - The two days of the year that purport to hold the most promise, change, anticipation, and new beginnings than any other day of the year. New Year's Resolutions, or lists of all the things you should or should not do this year (starting tomorrow, of course), according to whatever the hip new trend is, or perhaps what your yogi, therapist or Mom has told you, have about as much staying power as a freak snowfall in May. I find it curious that we wait until the very last day of the year to assess our weaknesses, admit our failings and decide - THIS year, it's going to be different. Society calls it a resolution. I think a more appropriate word would be absolution....as defined, "a release from guilt, obligation or punishment." Really, aren't those what our so-called resolutions really are? A way to make us feel better about what we didn't accomplish, didn't follow through on, or didn't improve upon in the last 364 days? You know what I'm talking about - and let's just name a few of the most common resolution-absolutions we experience every year (by the way, this is a very ME TOO sort of posting.... :) so I'm pointing the finger right at myself here as well.)
Lose weight - this one shows up in many forms but the heart of it is, I am not happy with how I look and something needs to change. So we join a gym, start shopping at Whole Foods and buy a shiny new machine that we swear we're going to use Every. Single. Morning. Then, a week in (Nope, I'm not even giving the vast majority the 6 weeks that most average), the gym is too daunting, or we just can't find the time, Whole Foods is too overwhelming and eating clean sounds boring, expensive and like a lot of work, and that fancy elliptical is a drying rack for your jeans (because God forbid they shrink in the wash!!!) In other words: forgotten, abandoned, deserted.
Save Money - ahem...this one hits home. Every year. And my savings account is still about as full as the gym on March 1. :)
Be a better (fill in the blank here ... parent, friend, employee....). You know - be more present, practice time management, follow through on commitments, or stop over-committing...). While a noble exercise - truly!, once the kids are back to school, the magic of Christmas is nothing more than a pile of needles on your floor, and life kicks back in full-force, well, old habits die hard.
And these are just a few right? But they sound familiar! These resolutions, however well meaning and sincere on January 1, turn into absolutions on December 31, 364 days later. The conversation goes something like this..."Well shoot. I didn't lose weight. I didn't save money. I'm still in the same dead-end job..." But THIS year it's going to be different. Last year, well last year this happened, and that happened, and the kids' schedule, or that awful thing that happened to me - I meant to do all this and I really tried. And it's ok - we absolve ourselves. We release ourselves from the guilt, commitment, punishment of all the things we didn't do with a fresh new (albeit recycled) promise of all the things we are actually going to do - for real this time, I mean it! - this year!! Enter stage right the bright and shiny New Year's Resolution.
You've heard, seen and likely posted some of the quotes.... sound familiar?
"New Year - New You"
"It's never too late to become who you should have been yesterday."
Oh and this choice one I found today....
"The book is called 'Opportunity' and its first Chapter is New Year's Day."
Nope. I say no more... New Year - New YOU? Does the clock swinging to midnight actually change you? Make you different? No...you're still you...the you that you were yesterday, you know...last year? Only now you're a day older and one day into the year of forgotten promises, more guilt and the inevitable absolution that awaits you next December. Good intentions are one thing, and frankly that's what these so-called resolutions really are, right? Not that there's anything wrong with good intentions but just the very nature of them allows for excuses. "I had the best of intentions but I forgot your birthday!" "I'm sorry that I hurt your feelings but I really had the best of intentions!" We use the same excuse for our abandoned resolutions.
[ ˌrezəˈlo͞oSHən ]
1. a firm decision to do or not to do something:
synonyms: intention · resolve · decision · intent · aim · plan · commitment ·
Aim. Plan. Commitment.
These words all have something in common - they require effort.
Aim: This inspires visions of keeping your eye on the target and never wavering...pointing the wheel in a different direction and following the path that you are aiming yourself on. The best tip I ever got in snowboarding was "Point in the direction you want to go." Sounds silly, but it works! Aiming is the same idea - point yourself in the direction you want to go - and line up the things in your life to help you go that way. Everything should be aimed in that direction, or you end up literally falling flat on your face (or catching the dreaded downhill edge, whichever comes first).
Plan: This requires forethought, time and desire. To make a plan you will likely have thought something through from inception to completion, know the tools, people and effort it will take to make the plan come to life. Your goals will succeed or fail based on the thoroughness of your plan and so when we plan we take everything into consideration. Like planning a family vacation - you very likely don't just "wing it". No....you plan. You've saved, you've reserved, you've ordered out each day and packed and prepared. A plan takes work and often teamwork - so ask for help! The best plans come to fruition with a whole lot of checkpoints and accountability. (spoken like a true Project Manager) ;)
Commitment: Funny that as I'm writing this, the song playing on the shuffle in my headphones is Eye of the Tiger. Coincidence? I think not. Rocky...now THAT'S commitment. It's all in the attitude - whatever it takes, blood, sweat, tears, picking yourself up and coming back stronger than ever. Commitment is vows at a marriage ceremony, taken so seriously that we say them in front of God and all our family. Commitment is hard and rocky and painful. It requires effort, staying power and again, accountability.
Commitment is the wheels under the plan when we take the wheel and aim in a new direction. This is a true resolution. It's not a list to check off, or a really good intention. A resolution is painful and difficult but reserved for the very best people - those that are willing to struggle, to sacrifice and to actually really truly make changes that stick. Those are the resolutions that deserve not to be hung on the fridge, but tattooed on your arm. They last. They work.
This year, if you've waited till December 31st to absolve yourself of the past year's failings and promise that today is a new beginning, well so be it. But do yourself a favor, give yourself the best gift. Don't make it a good intention or your best effort. Make it real. Make it last. Make a resolution - a firm decision. One that is anchored in a plan and sincere commitment. Ask for help, get an army to do it with you. But please, whatever you do, don't be happy with another year of absolution. Not this time.
What you do matters. There is a purpose for your life. Plan your work, and then work your plan. The idea of making plans is threaded throughout all of Scripture…“In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23), and also reminds you the importance of laying aside the things that hold you back from reaching your goals. “Let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Happy New Year - and p.s. you don't need to be a new YOU - you are a beautiful and wonderful child of God. Now walk in that knowledge and instead be the BEST you.