Happy New Year!
I’m greeting this new year with more optimism than I was able to muster a year ago, and I hope you are too. Part of my optimism stems from my new take on New Year’s resolutions.
Last year I shared that I’m not a big fan of resolutions. Over the last several months I’ve softened a bit on that view, even finding some value in resolutions, although I do believe there’s room for improvement.
The events of the past two years have taught me a lot. When the lockdowns started in March 2020, I set a high bar for myself. I was finally going to keep an immaculate house, cook all manner of gourmet meals, catch up on reading, return calls and emails promptly, and exercise and eat right every day. I was going to manage my time wisely and use the time I saved commuting to be productive and accomplish everything on my to-do list with aplomb.
That lofty dream soon turned to grim reality. I slept late. Ate junk food. Gained weight. Watched TV. Slept some more. I felt sad and worried most days. I was disappointed in and frustrated with myself for not living up to the high standard I had set, and that made it all worse.
But I realized later I was doing what I needed to do to adapt to a strange and frightening time. That realization helped me release the idea of what coping should have looked like and help me accept it for what it was, which then helped me accept myself for who I was as I went through it.
My insight was a gift, one I will keep with me even as the pandemic eventually fades into memory.
My pandemic experience would turn out to be the New Year’s gift I gave to myself, and it’s the same one I’ll give to you now.
A Call to Grow
The urge to grow and improve is a good one, and the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to set goals and work toward them. The pitfall is pinning self-worth onto successful outcomes. When we do that, we’re running the risk of setting ourselves up for failure and inviting disappointment.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Instead of a New Year’s resolution, why not think of it as a New Year’s evolution?
Instead of a harshly drawn line in the sand, “Starting today, I must ____,” instead let’s lead ourselves with love into the dawn of a new day with gentleness, wonder, and appreciation for all that has led us to a new threshold.
And if we stumble as we try to cross ithat threshold, that’s okay. Let’s be kind to ourselves and to one another, patient and encouraging when we stumble or stall. If we can do that, we won’t give up on the improvements we’re trying to make even before the end of January. We won’t let an arbitrary standard—even a self-imposed one—determine our self-worth. We’ll understand we’re playing a long game. Resolution can feel like a fight, but evolution can feel like a gift, an invitation to grow, to play, to live and love, and to be.
Happy, peaceful, joyful, wonder-filled New Year. You deserve nothing less.
Rev. Teresa Burton, Daily Word Editor
PS: Support your new year’s evolution with the Rise Into Your Power calendar. It’s full of powerful affirmations and beautiful watercolor illustrations to inspire your spiritual journey.