Friday, December 22, 2017

Why I Don't Make New Year's Resolutions

I often overhear people discussing what their goals are for the New Year. Resolutions come in so many different forms.  Read more, drink less, exercise 5 days a week.  Spend more time with friends and family, spend less money on frivolous items, eat healthy foods.  The overall theme that can be found in each resolution is More of Something or Less of Something and usually involves some sort of Self Improvement.

I have been asked twice this week what is my New Year's Resolution.  My honest answer? I have never made a Resolution and probably will not this year.  When questioned further, I explained that I am not afraid that I won't be able to commit to the Resolution or that I would fail, rather I have made the conscious decision to avoid them.

I remember as a child I saw adults exercising, but not really enjoying it.  I saw women drag themselves to countless social gatherings and never even want to go. Why would an adult force themselves to do something that they didn't want to do and do it if it wasn't going to bring them joy? That seemed silly to me.

Absolutely, it is important to set goals, assess goals and reevaluate what is important to us as individuals. But why do we wait until the New Year? Why in the month of June, would we say I want to do a better job of intentionally reaching out to friends, but then decide to wait until January to make any changes?  Are we putting it off and naming the goal as a New Year's Resolution just so we don't have do anything about it right now? Delaying something that requires time, effort and planning so that we actually don't need to spend any time, effort or plan right at this very moment?

Ancient Babylonians and Romans made Resolutions at the start of a New Year which was usually celebrated with an 11 day festival in March, around the time the crops were planted and after the Nile flooded. The Babylonians and Romans probably had the same problems keeping resolutions as people do now. Only 8% of Americans keep their New Year's Resolution. Why?  Mostly because they like the idea of having a Resolution but also don't really want to have anyone hold them accountable for the follow through.

With the ever present rise of Social Media, American's feel an even more immediate need to state publicly what they would like to change, improve or do differently.  But does anyone else really care? I have never once decided to ask someone, So how is your 5 days a week at the gym resolution going? Usually because they already posted their Fitbit Steps for the day and checked in at the gym on Facebook. And if I asked about a goal, and they were failing miserably, they would probably feel bad and want to crawl under a rock.

Some say it is about seeking out friends and holding each other accountable. But let's be honest. Chances are you will begin to begrudge that friend when they make you get off the couch and go to the gym after you have settled in for the night.

So this year, rather than make a resolution, choose to make a life change.  Choose to inspire and impact those around you. Help someone else this year. Great. Keep your gym goal. Keep going. Remember your gym goal is for you, not for others.  Your muscles will not make me want to start lifting. But if you want to make a difference, and start helping the local community in need, strategize and organize now! Find out more about organizations that need help. Volunteer your time and your talent to help where help is needed. Talk to your friends. Share your passion with them about your vision and specifically ask them to help. You may be surprised at how many people are just waiting for an invitation. Collect food, collect clothing, collect school supplies. Talk with your neighbors about ways that they can tangibly help.

Call a local school or contact your child's school and find out if there are areas that they desperately need help in. Re-shelfing books, serving lunches, organizing work packets and projects, decorating for holidays or special events, meals for teachers and staff. Contact your local church or even your own. Wash those pews, offer to clean the pastor's home, volunteer your painting and remodeling skills. The list of ways that you can help in the local schools and at local churches is endless.

My daughter enjoys filling the Little Pantry in downtown Chaska with groceries and personal care items.  My son helps by baking for local families who have experienced hard times and could use a little extra love and encouragement for a season. Kids can make a difference and they do every day.  It just takes some helpful suggestions and often times modeled behavior to influence them for a lifetime.

All of this say, let this year be the year you change your idea about Resolutions. Rather than focusing on self, focus on others. Find a way to make a difference and make a positive change in your life and in the lives of others. And look at that. I suppose with the New Year pending, now is as good of a time as any. I mean the Nile hasn't flooded, and we will be experiencing our Arctic Minnesota winter soon rather than planting crops. But today is a good day for change.

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