Like posting a MCM picture to Instagram or dressing up on Halloween, New Year resolutions have become a popular ritual with little objective. For the first couple of weeks in every new year, social media is buzzing with healthy recipes, de-cluttering tips, and post-workout selfies. By February though, most goals have mysteriously disappeared along with the gym memberships and fresh vegetables. In a culture where setting goals is popular, but putting in the work to reach them is not, it can be discouraging to even try. Part of the reason why so many New Year goals fizzle out is because they are driven by an inaccurate image of what a good resolution ought to entail. I have found at least three lies concerning resolutions that have been accepted as truth. Correcting these lies can be the difference between completing a successful transformational journey and merely watching others as they reach their own aspirations.
Lie #1: If I make a mistake or encounter a setback, my resolution has failed.
Unfortunately, “mistake” has incorrectly become synonymous with “failure.” I could go to Merriam-Webster to clarify the difference, but I would rather contrast mistake and failure with an illustration about Duct Tape. Sometime in junior high, I decided I was going to make my prom dress out of Duct Tape, and by the time my senior year rolled around nobody had talked me out of it. I spent years dreaming and months working with my mom and grandma on the project, but a week before prom I found myself desperately looking for a dress to order online. All of my carefully laid plains, extensive research, and hours of work were not enough to keep mistakes from happening. The type of tape I had chosen was not holding like I needed, and the dress wasn’t fitting the way I wanted it to. I had messed up, and I was ready to give up. In that time of frustration, I began to think about my 14-year-old self and how disappointed she would have been if I gave up on her dream. From my moment of indecision, I learned a valuable lesson: Mistakes do not cause a goal to remain unreached, they merely provide an easy excuse for giving up. Instead of quitting when quitting would have been easiest, I decided to push on with my dream, address my mistakes, and complete a beautiful dress. If you commit to run five miles a week but find yourself ending with only three, that doesn’t mean your goal is ruined. If you aim to lose ten pounds a month but only lose eight in January, don’t call it quits. Errors may prolong you from reaching your goal. In some instances you may find yourself starting over. But even then you have not failed. Keep pursuing your resolution, even when it doesn’t go according to plan; what you don’t expect to accomplish in one day, you can’t expect to ruin in one day, either.
Lie #2: This is my life, my goal, and my responsibility. I have to fulfill my resolution all on my own.
One of my all-time favorite movies is The Benchwarmers. If you’re not familiar with the story (which, really, you should be), it’s about three guys who team up with a billionaire to win a baseball tournament. They want to give the grand prize—a custom stadium—to kids who have never had the chance to play baseball due to bullying. Initially, Gus, the only talented player on the team, does all the coaching, pitching, fielding, and scoring, while Richie and Clark stand by. This works at first, but as the tournament goes on, Gus begins to struggle. It is only when the whole team gets involved that true success begins to unfold. Your New Year resolution will progress in a similar way, should you choose to tackle it alone. You can try to play coach, pitcher, and centerfield, but eventually you’re going to need to hit the ball. By making your New Year resolution public, even if it is just to a handful of trusted individuals, several of your roadblocks will already be conquered. Friends and family truly want to help you in the day to day pursuit of your resolution. Let them fully join you on your journey. Don’t hesitate to ask for a daily motivational text or call them up when you need to get a struggle off of your chest. Transparency is an empowering practice. Accountability is not only for the times when you fall behind or need encouragement, though it is certainly necessary in those seasons. Setbacks are unquestionably disheartening, but unrecognized accomplishments can be dejecting, too. When you hit a milestone or tackle a looming obstacle, don’t hesitate to celebrate victories with your team. Rejoice in the fact that not only are you making progress, but also that you have people who are willing to help you reach your goals.
Lie #3: The only time I am allowed to launch a big, life-altering resolution is on January 1.
The start of a new calendar year provides the visually encouraging motivation of a fresh page and a clean start. There is something symbolic about leaving behind the old habits, the old struggles, and the old you with the old year. If used correctly, an authentic New Year resolution can be an advantage to your cause. If used improperly, the calendar can be a serious hurdle in your already difficult journey. There is no law prohibiting personal resolutions to be made on April 29, July 14, or December 4. If you are reading this on January 2, or a random Tuesday in May don’t feel like you must wait until 2017 to begin pursuing a new goal. We are the creation of a God who renews his mercies every morning and gladly transforms the lives of His children upon the call of their voice. You are free to start anew whenever your heart desires and whenever an opportunity arises.
Don’t view a New Year resolution as an impossible task full of unconquerable obstacles, isolation, and strict rules. These are lies and nothing else. Should you choose to set a goal for yourself this year, begin your journey with the right mindset. Believe that mistakes do not hold the power to end your mission, confirm your capabilities through the support of others, and feel the freedom to initiate change in your life at any point in time. I wish you the best of luck in whatever your New Year brings!
Written by Savanna