Are you making resolutions today for the coming year? Or have you already decided what you're going to focus on? As you think about all that you want to do and to be and to accomplish in the new year, let me offer you something to think about that is the key - the key - to lasting change:
Don't make any resolutions.
Seriously, don't. If you've made resolutions before, you know how difficult they can be. You know how likely you are to break them. You know what it's going to be like in a week or two when you've fallen off, when your passion has waned, when you're not getting where you think you should be by now, and you just give up. You know the tremendous defeat that you will feel in your heart when you fail, yet again, to do something that seems so very important to you. Yet, you just can't do it.
Here's what they don't tell you, but it's also true: even if you're one of the few persons who can hold onto your resolutions and actually accomplish them, there's not as much satisfaction in that as you'd think. Because once you attain them, you have to keep them going, and that's just as much work. You wouldn't be happy to lose 10 pounds if you just gained it all back. You wouldn't be satisfied to stop smoking if, in six months, you just start up again. Even if you lose 10 pounds or stop smoking, you have to keep the weight off and keep the cigarettes away, and all of a sudden, your resolution has become your whole life.
It's inherent in the word itself: resolution. It comes from "resolve." It's the kind of head down, intense focus, life-sucking kind of thing that takes everything you've got. You've got to keep your nose to the grindstone at all times. Instead of buckling up for the ride, you buckle down on yourself, tighten your belts, give yourself a short rope. Resolutions are all about defeating yourself.
Who wants that?
Honestly. Who wants to make a decision that will keep them in constant war with themselves, all in the name of being "better" somehow? Who wants to spend their days fighting against the man in the mirror? It's why our resolutions make us hate ourselves so easily. It's why they make us feel bad about who we are.
Does that mean we shouldn't think about ways to change in the new year (or any time, really)? Absolutely not. Does that mean we shouldn't think about who we would be if some aspect of our lives were different? Nope. Does it mean we shouldn't let things about who we are bother us to the point of change? Of course not.
But resolutions aren't the answer.
The answer...is aspirations.
We have to think not about what we want to change, but about who we want to be. We have to cast a vision not for stopping, but for thriving. We have to plan for growth, not discipline ourselves into mere difference.
See, aspiration is based in hope. It's the kind of thing that lets you look up. It's the kind of thing that sets your eyes on something higher, on something better. Resolution makes us lock our eyes to the ground, always watching the next step. It makes us afraid to look in the mirror. Aspiration, on the other hand, straightens our back and locks our eyes up, always looking forward. Always watching. Looking for signs that we're making it - signs you won't see anywhere but in your own eyes as you look at who you're becoming.
Because that's what it's really all about - it's not about being something better; it's about becoming a better you. It's about drawing nearer to the glory that God has created you for. It's about one faithful step at a time toward a hope that you can see.
Resolutions only let you see what you need to change - that extra 10 pounds, those cigarettes in your pocket, that frown on your face. Aspirations let you see what's possible - that beautiful dress, more quality time with family, your smile.
So don't make resolutions this year. Not unless you want to spend the next couple of weeks with your head down, pushing forward toward the unknown and nearly-impossible, only to be buried in shame and guilt in a week or two.
Make aspirations. Set hope before you. Create a vision not of what needs to change, but of how you're changing. Let your eyes look up. And enjoy the journey.
What are you becoming this year?