Make or Break: Resolutions for a New Year

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Even though we are two days into the new year, it’s still not too late to make a New Year’s resolution.

So to help you navigate the challenges of resolutions, our TJP contributors offer their own reflections and some practical advice to make your resolutions in 2017.

Colten Biro, SJ, believes that resolutions reflect our hope…

If you are anything like me, you’ve probably forgotten more resolutions than you remember.

So, why? If I realize that I’m often going to forget or fail… why make resolutions?

My resolutions originate from areas of needed growth in my life: I come up with a goal. I create a plan. I try a change… I make resolutions, because it grounds the start of my year in hope. Even if by March I’ve forgotten what I meant to do, at the turn of the new year I start out hoping and dreaming.

So this year, here are my resolutions:

  1. To explore more—While I am not new to Saint Louis, the list of things I’ve done within the city is embarrassingly short. My goal is to do one “city activity” per month in 2017.
  2. To write more—I’d like to consciously dedicate time to creative writing this year. I’ve always loved writing, so this year I want to make it a habit in my life.

Ken Homan, SJ, reflects upon starting anew after falling short of his resolutions…

I fail. Certainly not at everything, but I pretty regularly fall short. Back in February, I shared why I would stop watching football this year. The sexism, racism, and economic injustice became too much for me to stomach. My resolution was to avoid football. I failed.

Sure, I watched less football this year. Instead of grading near a television, I went to a local coffee shop. Instead of watching TV, I worked on building coffee tables and wine racks. But at the end of long week of teaching, it’s a great feeling to lay in a recliner and watch beautiful passes and stellar runs.

As I reflect back on my stumbling over the last year, I realized I failed because I made it about myself. I was more concerned with how people might judge my failures than how they supported me. I focused on the messages of “Do it for yourself,” but I now think our resolutions are community endeavors. So this year, I’ve made my resolution for others.

My resolution:

  1. I want to teach my students about racial, gender, and economic justice through athletics.

Danny Gustafson, SJ, focuses his resolutions on refreshing and recharging himself…

Being a high school teacher is awesome. It’s also a lot of work. Every day I walk six minutes across campus from my community to school, teach all day, come home, grade, go to Mass, eat dinner, and then plan upcoming lessons. The weekend brings more grading and lesson planning. I’m really enjoying myself, but working in a high school can quickly become all-consuming.

In an attempt to stay committed to teaching without burning myself out, I’m making two resolutions this year.

  1. Get back into a regular running routine. With all the busyness of being a first year teacher, exercise has gone out the window. I know that running improves my focus, energy, mood, and even prayer. I just haven’t done it. In 2017 I’m resolving to carve out time to run at least twice a week.
  2. Get a regular change of scenery. Living so close to work makes for an easy commute, but the world is a lot bigger than the campus where I live. On the occasions this fall when I’ve gotten away for the weekend or even most of a day, I come back refreshed and more appreciative of my usual surroundings. In 2017 I want to continue taking time to step back from my usual routine.

Our TJP contributors offer a few practical pointers for making resolutions in 2017…

  1. Make it Doable—The best resolutions are those which are small steps towards something big rather than impossible leaps. Think of eating an elephant—it occurs bite by bite, not in one single gulp.
  2. Make it Trackable—It can be hard to remember a resolution for an entire year, but it can be nearly impossible to think of the specifics each day. For each day that you complete the resolution, visibly mark it somewhere. It helps track your progress, but it can also act as encouragement.
  3. Make it Worthwhile—Those things which matter to us, truly matter to us, are harder to forget and harder to take lightly. Whether it’s about your health, those around you, or about the world in general… Commitments driven by holy desires are infinitely easier to work towards, than those things which do not carry our personal investment.
  4. Make it a Team Effort—One suggestion to help you stay true to your resolution is to find a partner or friend to help you. That could mean finding someone who cares enough about you to join you in the resolution, or it could mean simply finding a friend to hold you accountable. Either way, the task becomes less of a challenge if you remember that you are not alone. Also, working together on a resolution makes the resolution about more than just you; it makes the task one oriented towards building community.
  5. Make a Bad Habit Stop, by Replacing it—Often resolutions come in the form of negative goals, like stopping one habit or lessening an activity. Quitting a bad habit is tough work, especially if you don’t replace it with a different activity. Replacing a habit may seem like distracting yourself, but is that such a bad idea? If you try to convince yourself NOT to think about eating that dessert, the first thought in your mind is that dessert. If, on the other hand, you move towards a positive replacement, then your focus can be on activity rather than the absence of something. Replacing a habit allows you to direct your energies towards something.
  6. Make Sure to Forgive Yourself—Setbacks can do two possible things to our resolutions: end them or remind us why they matter. If you accidentally forget or fall short of your resolution, rather than simply quit: give it another dedicated try. Forgive yourself and move forward. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but being gentle with oneself is good, solid advice from Ignatius about those times in which we might fail.

So from all of us here at The Jesuit Post,
Good Luck and God bless
with your resolutions and the new year!

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Cover image from pexels.com, found here.

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