A new year! Opportunities all around, for good or for ill. How will we use those opportunities? Will we make no resolutions at all, or will we make resolutions we forget by February?
At the end of each year, I look back over the year and the goals I have set and the strategies I identified for reaching those goals. Most years I reach about 50% of my goals. Of course that would be a failing grade in school, but I look at it as progress; I know what I seem to have nailed down and what to work on for next year.
Most years I have the goal of honoring Tuesdays, the day each week that I’ve set aside for writing. Usually I start out strong and then life interrupts.
But life has already interrupted today. Looking ahead at how scheduled our week is, we see that yesterday and today were the days to take down the Christmas trees and store our Christmas decorations. And today was also the day a dear friend needed me to sit with her at the hospital. So what could I do? Not write, of course.
So I’ve adjusted my strategy to “Honor my writing day, but prioritize well.” It’s important to me to put people over plans.
Part of my year’s plan is to read over my goals and strategies each week. So many times we write “New Year’s Resolutions” and don’t keep them because we forget what they were. Reading them each week is a good reminder as I plan my week.
My mother’s plan was much simpler. In 1973, she wrote her resolutions and taped them to the wall of her bathroom. She decided they were sufficient, so she’d just keep them for every year thereafter—36, as it turned out. Here they are, in case you can’t read her writing:
- I want to be more patient with other people’s faults.
- I want to serve my God better this year than last.
- I want to pray harder for those people on my prayer list.
- I want to be a better mother, wife, and teacher.
- I want to find something good about someone every day, forget the bad.
- I want to pray for those people whom I think are foolish.
You have to have known my mother to get the irony—and yet sincerity—in some of these. But she was right. If we stick to these, we can grow and help others to grow as well. That’s what it’s all about.
A little editorializing here: I’m a bit dismayed when I hear parents say about their children “All I want is for them to be happy.” Really? I’m not sure Jesus ever indicated that our goal should be to be happy. (Maybe I missed that part.) Contented? Maybe. Exemplary? Probably. A light for him, showing the world how to live with compassion and generosity? Certainly.
I believe that if our goal is to live like Jesus and for Jesus, then happiness—actually, even better, joy—will be a side-effect of that life. But happiness in itself sounds somewhat self-centered. It’s only in living for others that we gain that true happiness and contentment in our lives.
It works best for me to break it down more, but in a nutshell perhaps we should all just make our resolution this: Live for Jesus, live like Jesus.
That’s it. If we center on emulating Jesus, all those other things will fall into place. So just get out there in 2019 and live for and like Jesus.
Surely we won’t forget that one by February!