2020. It's finally, actually right around the corner. It's gonna be big. It's gonna be better. It's gonna be HOTT. You are making resolutions and determinations, and you're inspired by the possibilities. You will watch the ball drop on television and sing Auld Lang Syne with friends or family. You will pop the cork and toast to better days ahead, saying toodle-oo to the old year. But ...
Do you see yourself breaking those resolutions by the beginning of spring? Crap happens, it does, and you will be waiting (for whatever reason) for 2020 to end too. Don't tell me you haven't ever done this. I'm chuckling right now about the times I certainly have let them peter out around, say, um, February. Anyone relate?
King Solomon related too as he said something like this: "Smoke, nothing but smoke. There's nothing to anything - it's all smoke. What's there to show for a lifetime of work, a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone? One generation goes its way, the next one arrives, but nothing changes-it's business as usual for old planet earth. The sun comes up and goes down, then does it again, and again - the same old round ..." (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3, The Message)
Depressed yet? This wise king, who "got it" way before all of us did knew a bit about 'what was' and that it 'will be' again and that there is nothing new on earth. He goes on to say that everything is pretty boring and nobody will remember it anyway! Yikes, Solomon! Pessimist much? Of course, you probably already know about his struggle with futility and that he was just being a realist. He may have been the wisest man that ever lived, but he would attest to also being quite foolish in his life. You know, sometimes ... he makes me feel a little bit better!
An artistic realist and one of my favourite Spanish vocalists/writers said the world turns and turns with no way to stop it and that if God got frustrated with us and went elsewhere, lots of folks would probably end up worshiping a celebrity! Yikes again. (Octavo Dia by Shakira) Sadly, I kinda believe her. You probably do too, right? Yes, yes. We know ... the world keeps on spinning ... and it has spun around to 2020. Now ...
If you are inclined to making the traditional resolution, what I'd like to do today is to give you six simple "resolutions" that might take the stress out of having them in the first place! They encourage you to take some time to get to know yourself. Often setting small and manageable goals for yourself can make a tremendous benefit to said goals, not to mention your self-esteem. And they are the things some people struggle with every single day. I know I often do.
I'm putting this out there to share with YOU because I know goals work when you take just one and focus on it for a couple of months at a time. It takes around 21 days to make a habit PERMANENT, but I'm suggesting two months for those try again moments ... only one resolution per two months for the whole year! Write it on a piece of paper and post it at places you frequent or stick it in a phone app that you see ONLY THE ONE TWO-MONTH GOAL easily several times a day. These are not specific on purpose; YOU get to do that.
ARE YA READY? Let's go!
1. January-February. You made a mistake last year. Big deal. Learn from it, laugh at it, and EMBRACE it. Just this week I was reminded of one of the MANY stories regarding my husband's grandmother and silly things she is known for ... like ... driving through a car wash with the window down or hitting the ONLY other car in an empty mall parking lot. Yes, this happened. I could go on ... I will stop after those two examples, but the stories were legion. What I never, ever heard from this woman was, "I'm so stupid! Why did I DO that?" instead, she laughed and blew it off as a hysterical human error. All I knew from her about these things was ... laughter. The purest laughter. So, your first resolution is simply to make this a reoccurring thought: You are full of worth, so STOP FEARING FAILURE. I have a relative who takes time-released medication. Think of success as simply time-released and you CAN'T fail! Remember your worth for the first two months and you might actually start to believe it! :)
Put this verse "in your pocket"/phone app/whatever for this FIRST two -month resolution to FORGET FEAR & REMEMBER YOUR WORTH (& THINK OF SUCCESS AS TIME-RELEASED):
"Don’t waver in resolve. Don’t fear. Don’t hesitate. Don’t panic. God, your God, is right there with you, fighting with you against your enemies, fighting to win..."
2. March-April. You ARE pretty amazing. Really, really. NO, REALLY!! I don't mean to go all "Stuart Smalley" on you (any former SNL followers will get this reference, if not, HERE ya go), but those comical tongue-in-cheek thoughts on self-therapy are dead on. You ARE good enough, smart enough, people like you, so if you don't like yourself, you are really missing out on some awesomeness! So, for your next two months: You deserve it, so GET TO KNOW ... YOU.I'm not talking about looking up your dead relatives on Ancestry or referring to experiences that have come up in counselling (although both of those things are awesome) I mean, know who you are AT THE CORE. What worldviews influence your values and hence your behaviours ...? Be okay with what you discover. If not, be honest with yourself and make some decisions (you may need a friend for this!).
Put this verse "in your pocket"/phone app/whatever for this SECOND two -month resolution to GET TO KNOW YOURSELF:
"God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him." -Romans 12:3
3. May-June. For you to be a positive person, you have to convince yourself that your behaviours and actions are positive. Ever heard of "fake it 'til you make it?" Yup, that actually works. Your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours work off each other, so if you make a point of practising positivity toward another human being, you are going to feel positive too. There is also the added perk that you will feel satisfied with who you are and the things you are doing when you propose 'positivity' in challenging situations. Going into circumstances with a confident attitude, and choosing to act boldly has the result of boosting self-esteem. Yes, even when you're faking it. :) So. For the third two month stint, remember that YOU ARE TRULY LOVED and there is no reason to not BE KIND, GENEROUS, AND LOVING TO OTHERS. I realize you won't stop this after two months (better not!), but taking special time to focus on it for a apportioned time can deeply change a person as they continue forward.
Put this verse "in your pocket"/phone app/whatever for this THIRD two -month resolution to REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE LOVED AND PAY THAT FORWARD:
"We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both!" -1 John 4:19-21
Before continuing to the other easy resolutions, please enjoy this wonderful new song for the New Year, HORSES RUNNING, written by my friend Michael Puryear and his cohort, Jo Doyle. Accompanied by a fun video of ...
Rattle your cage ... shake things up. Okay! KEEP READING for the last three resolution ideas for your stellar year ... !
4. July-August. Here is a FUN one for the fourth two-month stint and it comes right around the summer months! I am starting to believe the sun is there not just to warm us and tell us what time it is, but to remind us of our mortality and keep us healthy simultaneously. Go outside. A LOT. Who doesn't smile when they think of sunshine? And don't forget the sweet UVB rays creating vitamin D and absorbing calcium from our bones! I'm planning to get a laptop out of the house as much a possible and SPEND CONSIDERABLE TIME IN THE SUN - as much as humanly possible! It's a short one, but a great one.
Put this verse "in your pocket"/phone app/whatever for this FOURTH two -month resolution to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE:
"Life collapses on loafers; lazybones go hungry."
5. September-October. Here we are at the fifth two-month stint. It may be closing in on the end, but IT. AIN'T. OVER. Go and try something new if you want, but sometimes what would truly inspire you is to BELIEVE that you are already really GREAT at something fabulous. Do that thing. Share that thing. Don't hide that thing "under a bushel." NO. Do you like scrap-booking? Do that, SHARE that. Did you like kites as a kid? Make one with your own kids or shoot, just do it on your own or with a friend. Does anyone remember when former President George W. Bush painted an excellent portrait of Leno and shared on the television waves that he took time for himself to hone a fulfilling skill? Yeah, you aren't a president. So what? For the 3rd two month stint, take time to remember that YOU ARE ONE OF A KIND. INCREASE AN ABILITY IN SOMETHING YOU ALREADY LOVE. Hear this, believe this: You have a lot to share.
Put this verse "in your pocket"/phone app/whatever for this FIFTH two -month resolution HONE A SKILL:
"Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now." -Ecclesiastes 5:19-20
6. November-December. I am again, laughing while I type and think through this one. See, Weight Watchers has helped me a lot to understand, manage yet still ENJOY my food (especially their new "freestyle" take on the plan). I am giggling because I had a nice big juicy french fry the other day and it took me about a half a minute to eat it because I was savoring the moment, 'sucking the marrow' if you will (um, literally). Anything can take over your life if you don't practice moderation, even if it's chewing gum. But what I have learned about self-control is that moderation actually elucidates the taste ... of LIFE! Benjamin Franklin said, "Everything in moderation ... including moderation!" Heh. You get it. Anything you want to accomplish takes progress, not perfection. Notice I saved this until the end of the year? It's a reward, really. SO. For the sixth and final two-month stint, PRACTICE MODERATION, BUT ENJOY YOUR FREAKING FRENCH FRIES!
Put this verse "in your pocket"/phone app/whatever for this SIXTH two -month resolution to PURPOSEFULLY BUT CAREFULLY ENJOY THINGS YOU LOVE:
"So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books."
-2 Peter 1:6-9
Speaking of the sweet taste of life but also any life-yuck being "wiped off the books," let me drive back around to my husband's grandmother ... this woman embraced her failures, laughed about them, and never EVER did anyone think she was herself a failure or stupid. She was simply ... honest and hilarious and confident. And she knew it. So ...
Be that. Oh, please be that. And have a very happy new year. Sing Auld Lang Syne out of tradition, but DON'T actually 'forget' auld acquaintances who have inspired you. Watch the ball drop and cheer, but cheer that you are a BETTER person because of the past year, even if it was a tough one.
New habits are best made in small intervals with a few weeks practice, so you don't have as much to trouble you or guilt you in the coming months. And finally, you may make and break resolutions, even these small portions that shouldn't overwhelm you ... but, if something doesn't go as planned, at the end of the day, have complete confidence that you can take THE NEXT DAY with your very very best foot forward.