As 2018 came to a close, the annual tradition of “new year, new me” promises that people make to themselves was apparent once again. Every year, people sign up for gym memberships that they say they’ll use, buy calendars for the upcoming year to keep them organized and perform all kinds of activities in order to prepare for the (hopefully) fantastic year ahead.
People all over the world dream of an active, organized and fulfilling life for the upcoming year. By the end of February though, those aspirations are a thing of the past. You haven’t been to the gym in a few weeks, haven’t marked your calendar since before the year even started and everything and you begin to look towards the next year as an opportunity for change.
Resolutions are important to set because as humans, we are flawed and can always be better sons or daughters, siblings, students, disciples and so much more. Without the idea of goals of personal improvement, people would rarely change and those seldom changes might do more harm than good. If not carefully handled however, these resolutions might drive people crazy because their goals are not being met.
So what if instead of setting of goals and resolutions with numerical measures or trying something that we’ve failed at before, we instead focus on one word that we chose to be the “theme” for your year? This word should be something that helps you make decisions in your life, to generate a positive change that you want to see in your own life. I’ll give you mine as an example:
A Year of Acceptance
During this past year, I’ve noticed that I have a tough time being okay when what happens in my life doesn’t quite match up with what I had planned. I’ll put in hours of effort for an essay or project to get a grade that isn’t quite what I wanted, or try to plan something out and when it happens, nothing goes according to plan. During times like these, I tend to think about the end result an exhaustive amount, questioning every decision I had made prior, to the point of self-criticism.
While it is completely fine to not be satisfied with the results you have, it is still crucial to accept them because you tried your hardest. While the grades or end results might not be exactly what I had envisioned, I have to accept what I can offer. Heading into 2019, I want to be more accepting and thankful for whatever I am given. While the end of whatever I am doing might not be what I sought out, I need to accept those results because I offered up my best.
As shown, this concept does not have to be extremely challenging or contain some complicated word; your resolution simply needs to be personal. If you’re having difficulty, here are a few more examples of single words to have as a resolution.
A Year of Hope
It might sound cliche, but hope is something that can carry us through whatever the next year might hold. While there is always hope in what God promises for us, finding hope in our daily, ordinary lives will make each day in this new year more fantastic than the last.
This resolution can be more than simply clinging to hope though. We can live into hope and become the type of people that people draw hope from by living boldly.
A Year of Joy
There is an abundance of things to find joy in. While they might seem hard to find due to the overwhelming amount of negative news in the media, the sources of happiness that exist are alive and well. The joy of the Lord is often in the little things within our life (see St. Therese of Lisieux) and when we live into these sources of authentic happiness, or joy, the days become more fulfilling than the big things ever could have done.
Likewise to the second point made about hope, joy can also be lived into to the point that other people can look to us for examples of joy fully lived out. When we live out such a strong virtue like joy or hope in our own lives, people will notice and follow your example. If we are looking to make an impact in our world, the best way to do it is by example.
A Year of Patience
Ah yes, the dreaded ‘P-word’. Patience is dangerous thing to ask for and requires a lot of trust but this virtue, like any positive growth that person might experience, is only learned through living through it and being forced to practice it. Seeking opportunities to be more patient, whether that is allowing the person in front of us to merge into our lane while driving, or finding peace when it feels like God is giving you no signs will be extremely beneficial in the long run.
The possibilities for this exercise extend beyond just one-word ideas though. You can plug in verses from sacred scripture, parables or even whole people into this quote and learn from it. For example…
A year of being last: Seek to serve others in ways that you haven’t before and (Matthew 20:6)
A year of leaps of faith: For every moment of doubt or uncertainty in your year, take that as an opportunity to trust even more in the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:7.)
A year of the fruits: Pick a certain fruit of the Holy Spirit and attempt to incorporate that more into your life (Galatians 5: 22-23.)
A year of letting go: Reflect on all incidents from the past or the current year and focus on releasing any anger you have on the matter (Ephesians 4:26 or 1 Peter 3:9.)
A year of authenticity: Speak and live in ways that God wants for you to act, even if they’re judgments that come with it (1 Thessalonians 2:4.)
2019 has the potential to be an amazing year. Start by picking a personal but meaningful resolution to live into.