resolved: not to fail at resolutions again this year

We’re two weeks into the New Year. How are your resolutions going?

Mine are – and I have never uttered these words before – going well. For the first time ever, I find myself heading into week three not cursing the workout regime I’ve already slacked from or lamenting the prayer discipline I’ve already dropped.

Because this year, I made my resolutions in a drastically different fashion. Which is to say: I made them uber-realistic.

I’m a busy mother of two young kids. I cancelled my gym membership halfway through my last pregnancy, and I have no plans to renew it anytime soon. I love cooking, but I don’t have the luxury of lingering over exotic new recipes. So instead of setting myself up for another February failure in the resolution department, I got practical.

1) I started planning early. Resolution #1? To work more intentionally on my writing this year. Push it in new directions, polish up rough corners, ponder what might lie ahead. So back in December, I found a monthly writing group to join and two workshops – spaced far apart throughout the year – to try. Realistic enough that I could squeeze it in; big enough to challenge me. But I knew I had to start early to make it stick.

2) I erred on the side of vague. Resolution #2? To become more generous. My husband asked me what this one meant, and I told him I didn’t really know. I just knew I had room for improvement in the generosity department. But since vagueness grates on me as one who loves clarity, I’ve made myself look at generosity from many angles. Small ones (like leaving a bigger tip for baristas) and big ones (like reassessing how I can volunteer the little free time I have). Vagueness has meant my resolution has already surprised me in delightful ways.

3) I consciously thought about them every day. Resolution #3? To celebrate the joy in my life. Too often I zero in on all that’s out-of-place, still-not-done, not-good-enough. So every day since January 1, I’ve taken a moment or two to pause and let the reality of my life bring me joy. I’ve seen my marriage, my family, my work, and even my to-do list differently since I started practicing a little joyfulness each day.

So since this is the first January I’ve ever celebrated – instead of cursed – my good intentions for the new year, allow my joy (see #3) to be your cheerleader.

First, go read this. And pat yourself on the back for all that you’re already doing to thrive in the life you already live. Give yourself credit for the changes you have made, even if you’re surrounded by the chaos of raising children.

When I sat back and reflected, I realized that since having kids, I have: 1) become more serious about my writing; 2) become more committed to yoga. Two goals I had for years, but never acted up until: 1) I needed a creative outlet to process my transition into motherhood and started this lovely little blog; 2) I needed to tend to my aching pregnant body and fell back in love with yoga. Two resolutions that have changed my life for the better, because of – not despite! – my mothering.

Second, give yourself a break. January 1 is an arbitrary day on which to change your life. Start today, or start tomorrow. But don’t get bogged down by dates. Just take one small, practical, first step.

Want to jump-start your prayer life? Try a free sample of this wonderful daily resource here. (Or see below for more!) Want to go green? Ask someone else how they do it. Imagine how your life would look or feel if you made the change that’s been nagging you for years. And then imagine what dreams God has for your life. How can you clear a little room for the Spirit to sneak into a new corner and surprise you?

Happy New Year, belatedly. And happy resolving. It’s never too late.

To celebrate 2012 – and my 200th post in this corner of the world! – I have 10 free 3-month subscriptions to Give Us This Day, a new daily prayer resource from Liturgical Press. Morning and evening prayers short enough for busy parents, daily reflections on Scripture from wise thinkers, and glimpses of saints’ lives from around the world and church.

Give Us This Day is a gem, and I’d love to share it with you. Leave a comment below with your New Year’s resolution (or lack thereof!) and I’ll toss your name in the hat.

13 thoughts on “resolved: not to fail at resolutions again this year

  1. My husband and I are bound and determined to be healthier this year – eating less, eating better, exercising regularly (well, he’s done that for over a year now but I haven’t). So far, so good. A better prayer life would be next on my list, but I find it’s taking all my energy to deal with the first one! We’ll see how things are going in a few months.

  2. To continue to strive for a healthy life. (eating well, continued excercise, finding the joy in all things). One I think I can still start soon is keeping a daily journal. I have always wanted to do that. We shall see 🙂

  3. Bravo to you for your intentional resolutions AND for doing so well with them!

    Alas, I thought about making resolutions, and then junked the idea. While I would love to exercise more or develop a more leisurely prayer routine, I knew I’d be doomed to fail at both until I first figured out how, exactly, I could find the time to DO them. Aye, there’s the rub! So I have been sailing through 2012 resolution-free.

    I do like your idea of being more generous … that is the kind of thing that one can resolve to do even with a busy schedule. Perfect for moms!

    1. Great point, Ginny – you gotta find something flexible enough for your life in order to make a resolution stick. (Which is why I junked my traditional “get to the gym more and lose 5 pounds” resolution. Blech.)

  4. My wife and I have resolved to pray the Vespers or Compline from Divine Office as our bedtime prayer. We use, because Magnificat is too expensive for us at this time. Also, we have resolved to make our Fridays meat-free for the whole year, and to start getting in the habit of it during Lent. I plan on having lentil soup on the days I don’t fast during Lent (and by fast, I mean bread an water). When the weather gets warmer, I want to start jogging again.

  5. I’m with you on the “give yourself a break” thing! I’m a big fan of Cooking Light. Last year they did a challenge to inspire their readers to embrace twelve healthy habits. It was a gradual resolution: every month had a different healthy habit (eat more fruits and vegetables, add three servings of whole grains per day, work on cardio, etc.). I was very taken with this idea. This year on my birthday I wrote down twelve things I want to work on for the year (for example, writing, prayer, generosity, kindness, health). Rather than writing every day for an hour or giving a certain amount of money each month, I’m allowing myself to spend a month experimenting with each habit. What works and doesn’t work for writing? What goals do I want to put in place long-term for my writing? How do I give? What does giving look like? What do I want it to look like?

    Thinking of resolutions as habits or experiments is helpful for me. It’s allowing me to take some time to figure out what does and doesn’t work. Resolutions seem to be set in stone and maybe that’s why we drop them so quickly. They get too heavy. But an experiment? That leads to adventure! You never know what might happen! Your life just might be changed.

    1. LOVE this, Lauren. What a practical and methodical way to think about making changes in your life. And I love the idea of something new for every month. Approaching change as an experiment, with the prospect of adventure, is much less daunting!

  6. Great post — and helpful! My husband and I have tried to have ‘couple resolutions’ alongside any personal ones we create. It has helped us be intentional about our relationship. In years past, they have been things like: read a book together, go on vacation, try to ‘live’ more green. This year, because of work, school, child, home, etc, they are meant to bring us closer together: take a cooking class together, ask grandparents for 1 overnight a month so we can enjoy a morning together child free, reclaim our ‘anniversary date (the 27th of each month) for time for prayer and connection. I’m always renewed in January — and I am committed to making 2012 a fabulous year!
    PS — my husband writes for Give Us This Day so I’m biased but I think it’s a wonderful resource! 🙂

    1. What a great idea, Carrie! I will have to try to nudge my husband in this direction next year…my attempt to start a conversation around, “So, what’s YOUR resolution for the year?” fell completely flat. 😉 But I think he could definitely get behind committing to new ways to spend time together, be more intentional about our relationship. Love the idea of reclaiming the anniversary date, too – I may steal that one!

      And I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for your husband’s byline!

  7. Thanks to all who shared their resolutions (or resolutions not to stress about resolutions). For those just arriving, you have until midnight (CST) on Friday, January 20th to join in the giveaway!

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