All right, it’s time for a little bit of January heresy.
I’ve never been a big believer in New Year’s resolutions.
Don’t get me wrong. Goals are great. Commitments are wonderful. But making a big promise just because Jan. 1 happens to show up on the calendar – to hit the gym, to write the novel, to finally understand the offside rule in soccer – always seemed a little odd to me.
Yes, I know the answer to that one, or as much of an answer as there is. The New Year’s a symbol of change. Speaking realistically, there’s very little that separates Dec. 31, 2020 from January 1, 2021. But when the date ticks over, it’s a reminder that things keep changing … and in the case of the late unlamented 2020, not a moment too soon.
So it’s natural to want to change ourselves, too. But making a change just because it’s Official Changing Time doesn’t have a great track record. As I noted last year, about 8% of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them. The Broncos offensive line performs better than that.
So maybe it’s time for a different approach.
One that’s focused less on what we’d like to be and more on who we are.
I’ve learned a lot of important lessons in life, many of them the hard way. About how little control I really have over things. About living with loss and honoring memory. About taking the time to truly appreciate who we have while we have them, and the notes they bring to our common song.
Most of all, though, I have learned and learned and learned how to hope. Not the sort of dewy-eyed “Gee, maybe someday all this will get better” expectation, but a real belief that by acting together, we can make things better – which means that I can’t shirk my part of that.
Time and again, it’s been that ability to hope and that willingness to back it up with effort that have made a difference. It’s been a solution over and over.
So much so, that I’ve started thinking of it as a re-solution.
And that, I submit, is what we really need to look to in this new year.
It’s important to grow. But it’s just as important to examine ourselves, see the worthwhile things that have already grown in us, and commit to reinforcing them. Just like the plants you want to save, those solutions need to be fed, watered, strengthened.
They’re what got you this far. And they’ll ultimately be the roots for the growth that lasts.
It’s not easy. A lot of times, it’s downright exhausting. I’ve seen my fighting hope sucked into the ceiling fan again and again, taking fresh lumps each time.
But I’ve also seen it helped build a family. A new career. A place to go to when things are at their worst, whether it’s the personal loss of a cousin or the shared loss of a normal reality.
My re-solution is still there.
And like any well-worked muscle, it keeps getting stronger with use.
That’s what will carry us through.
Resolutions help mark a change in time. Re-solutions confirm a change in life. They’re not always as simple as that promise to take guitar lessons (which I still need to do) but they undergird so much of what matters.
Find your re-solutions. Feed them well. Put them to work and don’t let up.
Who knows? Maybe when December comes around again, we’ll actually want to look forward to what’s ahead. I’m sure hoping to.
Just as long as it doesn’t involve that blasted offside rule.