It’s that time of year again. We say goodbye to the old year, and say hello to a fresh new start. With that fresh new start comes the season of New Year’s Resolutions. There are typically two camps regarding resolutions: those who eagerly pursue them (at least for the first two months or so) and those who refuse to make any. In the past year, I have done a lot of thinking about my personal traditions, and I have carefully considered whether I would make any resolutions in the new year, and if so, what they would be.
In considering such a tradition, I almost decided that I would resolve not to make any resolutions at all! However, the more I thought about why I was resistant to such a thing, the more I began to understand exactly what I was resisting: perfectionism and holding myself to impossible standards. This problem is something that has been ingrained deeply into my soul my entire life, and it is something that I have been fighting against in the pursuit of becoming my most authentic self.
So, what could I do? Perhaps the answer was not in rejecting all resolutions, but in making resolutions of a different sort…
1) I Resolve to Fail.
Well, maybe I won’t make it my life’s goal to fail at things, and I certainly don’t consider myself to be a failure. But, this year, I resolve to acknowledge my failures and be okay with mistakes and shortcomings. I will live my life with the understanding that I don’t have to be perfect at everything. I’ve not lacked failure before, but perhaps, by embracing my failures, this year’s mistakes will help me grow…or at the very least, they will become comedic relief. Which leads me to…
2) I Resolve to Laugh at Myself.
This is something I have learned from my son. We have had the best times when one of us has made a complete mess of things, and we look at each other and start laughing until we can’t breathe. It’s not that uncomfortable, embarrassed laugh of when I am self-conscious and I’m just laughing with the people who are laughing at me. This is the absolute belly-laugh of someone who finds the whole situation absolutely ridiculous. Instead of getting bent out of shape over something I won’t remember in five years, I plan on allowing myself to laugh so hard that we talk about it for the next decade.
3) I Resolve to Just Say No.
The most amazing thing occurred to me in 2015. Just because someone asks me to do something, it doesn’t mean that I actually have to agree to do it. What a revelation that was! In 2016, I plan on taking that new knowledge a step further. You see, even after I realized I had the power to say no, I would heap on excuses and the reasoning for why I was actually saying no. I would apologize for not being able to say yes. I often even apologized to the point of feeling sorry for my own existence. I don’t owe anyone an explanation. I do not have to explain myself or apologize for myself. Simply saying no is good enough. How refreshing it feels to simply say “No” with nothing coming after it! Who knows…maybe my appropriate use of the word, no, might make room in my life for God’s yes!
4) I Resolve to Have Fun in the Mirror.
My, oh, my… How our culture has decimated our body image! We are told to feel inadequate at every turn, especially when we look in a mirror. Are your eyes like mine? They seem to default toward all the features I find imperfect. For 2016, I resolve to find at least one thing I love in the mirror each day. I resolve to make silly faces at myself, laugh, and smile. I resolve to say to myself, “You are a beautiful creation of God, and He calls you very good.”
5) I Resolve to be Kind to my Body
Generally, this means a healthy, balanced diet and moderate exercise. This also means caring for any part of me that is sick or injured. This also may mean surreptitiously enjoying that secret candy bar I hid in the…(oops! Someone may be watching me type right now!) That certainly means that I will celebrate weight loss victories or reaching personal physical goals. It also means that I don’t beat myself up or become abusive in my dietary restrictions or exercise, using those tools in ways that are damaging to my body or my psychological state, just in order to achieve a goal. It means that when I hurt, I will rest and care for myself. It means that when I am tired, I will sleep.
All of these resolutions are life to me. So often, especially for those of us who care for the souls of others, we sacrifice ourselves and have really poor self-care. We demand more from ourselves than we can perform, and we beat ourselves up for failures time and again. But, when I consider who may be watching, my self care becomes far more important than that candy bar I hid in an undisclosed location. When I consider who might be watching (my son, my friends, people to whom I minister), I have to consider what kind of example I wish to set for them. How can I tell them that they are beautiful creations of God who deserve to be cared for, if I do not live as though I believe it myself? In the making of your New Year’s Resolutions, keep this in mind. Be kind to yourself.
Patricia Taylor is the Editor of the Soul Care Collective and the Editorial Assistant for Seedbed.com.
Like you, I too think about skipping new year resolutions, but since resolving to improve is a worthy discipline all year long, why not at the beginning? What I especially noted in your suggestions was that 2 of the 5 (40%) dealt with our physical embodiment. Being intentionally incarnational in our thinking is a great need for those of us who usually spiritualize away the fleshly reality of our earthly journey. Body acceptance is the theologically-correct attitude our contemporary world is struggling with without much help from devoted followers of the body’s Designer. We need to corporately resolve to change that.
My thoughts exactly. 🙂