by Niki Turner
There seems to be a new trend toward an anti-resolution new year: not making any new year's resolutions for fear we will fail, or forget, or otherwise end up with a list of things we intended to do and didn't accomplish and feel guilty.
I, for one, love new year's resolutions. The in-depth examination of the "state-of-the-Niki" (which is the equivalent of the Presidential State of the Union address), followed by new awareness of where improvements need to be made, coupled with a specific day and time to begin the process of change, encourages me like no other holiday.
"But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each shall bear his own load."
This resistance to resolutions stems, I think, from a combination of fear and ignorance. We don't know how to change what needs to be changed in our lives, and so we are afraid we will fail and have to admit our weakness and inability. For example, the hindering belief that shopping for shoes will make you feel better might be detrimental to your financial progress, but you don't know how to STOP shopping for shoes when you feel depressed or blue.Gal 6:4-5
"Test all things; hold fast what is good." 1 Thes 5:21
Years ago I read a book entitled "Correct Change Required: Becoming Who You Really Want To Be." The book's author suggested separating the different parts of our lives into categories to be analyzed. Each category is different ... your physical health, for example, might be just fine, even though your spiritual life is suffering. Each category has an impact on the other categories, whether we like it or not. By examining each category, we can find the true source of resistance to transformation (those pesky hindering beliefs) and make lasting changes that affect our lives in every area.
Over the years I've tweaked the categories a bit from those in the book, but they generally encompass the following:
1. Financial – Bills to be paid, debt to be dealt with, perhaps a home mortgage refinance, or a big purchase you know you'll need to make this year... like buying a new computer or attending a writing conference!
2. Career – Different than finances because these are the things you need to do to further your God-given calling, which may be completely separate from your 9-5 job. For writers, this could be a word count per day goal or a list of contests you plan to enter.
3. Relationships – Marriage, children, family, friends, coworkers ... if you are an introvert, maintaining these vital relationships may be at the top of your priority list. Extroverts tend to need to "pare down" in this area because too much time is being spent on socializing.
4. Household – This could include everything from getting a grip on keeping your house clean to menu planning to home repairs to planning for your high school senior's graduation and what you will do with his/her room when he/she heads to college. (Rubs hands together with evil glee. Muhahahaha.)
5. Spiritual – What is the quality of your relationship with the Lord at this time? What things has He been whispering in your ear to do ... journaling, setting aside time to pray, a fast, or adding or reducing commitments at your local church could all fall in this category.
6. Personal – I usually separate this one into two subcategories: body and soul. Where am I physically? Do I need to lose 10 pounds? Stop eating so much sugar? Cut back on the coffee consumption? Is my mind being stimulated by anything, from crossword puzzles to reading a book on writing, or is my gray matter at risk of stagnation? What's my emotional state most of the time, and what needs to be done to move me toward the kind of peace and joy and contentment that best represents Christ Jesus and His lordship in my life?
7. R and R, aka Rest and Relaxation – This is my annual failure category. Fun, rest, frolic, relaxation ... I know they are necessary for a healthy balance of life, but in my opinion, fun and relaxation are accidental incidents, not something you plan. Apparently, that is not the best way to think! What will you do this year to refuel and recharge?
I write down the things that come to me as I examine these areas, and they become my "resolutions" for the new year. As someone has said, goals that are written down are 80 percent more likely to be accomplished than goals we keep in our heads. As the year goes by, I'll go back to the list I made and see where I'm "at," usually at Easter/Passover, again at my birthday in July, and sometime in the fall.
This year I plan to turn my generalized list of resolutions into printable "subway art" that will hang somewhere in my house as a reminder.
Do you plan for change? Or do you just let it happen and roll with the punches? If so, how do you maintain your personal commitments to things like writing?