Spiritual Practice

A Resolution for Next Year. 1? 2? What Chance do You Have? ☹

A resolution for next year – or more than one – sadly they often fall by the wayside. Here are some ideas that might help with all that. “Resolution” or “resolved” are words way too strong for how typical new year’s resolutions actually turn out.

a resolution for next yearOne problem with making a resolution for next year: we have to add it in to the already well established realities of our lifestyle and thinking patterns. That’s why resolutions are desireable in the first place.

I. To Make a Resolution for Next Year – Let’s Look to Our Recent Successes! We Might Call These Easy Resolutions, as against Typical New Year’s Resolutions.

a) Mixing new and old

One year we got a new electronic game for Christmas; so I brought all my engineering know-how and installed the batteries. The instructions warned me not to mix new batteries with old.
Tell me – if we can’t even mix new batteries with old ones how come every year they give us a large set of new days (365!), but we have to mix them in with the same old us? Sounds like trouble to me.
The nice thing, of course, is that we’re not yet as used up as an old battery. Even better, you may be old, relatively 🙂 , but unlike old batteries you are still somewhat adjustable.

b) Harvest the past for the benefit of the present.

New Year’s is a time we talk about doing some adjusting. Usually we pick something unpleasant, unhealthy, or otherwise negative to work on; and often we are frustrated in the effort.
Let’s look at it from the other direction. How about pinning down some pleasant, healthy, or otherwise beneficial aspect of our personalities or activities and give that a little reinforcement for the months to come?
Suppose you were to comment on this post a 1- or 2-sentence summary of something good that you did this year. What would you pick? Let the action be pointed out for its own sake, without your name necessarily attached; but you yourself will thus be reminded – and that’s important.

c) Examples

Here are a few areas where we might have something to report, or to remember and try to do again.

  • Tongue-biting. Abe Lincoln wanted us to move on “with malice toward none.” There is a lot of malicious talk around today – especially on radio and TV. But it’s also in our homes, schools, and workplaces.
    1. Did you bite your tongue now and then this year? Then there might be less social acid sloshing around where you live. That’s a good thing. Don’t hurt your arm, but a little pat on your own back might be appropriate.
    2. And if we actually spoke up in a way opposite from malice – well, another pat. Hey, these are good things! If they show up some more in 2023, all the better.
  • Mary Pipher says, “A great deal of the social sickness in America comes from … age segregation.” “A great deal of the social sickness”!
    1. Did you cross one of those socially acceptable barriers to be present with, seeing and hearing and understanding, someone older or younger? It can be embarrassing, but also fun. If Pipher is right, that’s an important contribution to social healing for America! Wow. Then go do it. Was there an example of that for you in 2002? That’s good. Notice it. Tell yourself it’s valuable.
    2. Then do it again this year. We’re picking up good things and amplifying them by giving them attention. We’re helping to heal our culture!
    3. That also applies to a number of other kinds of segregation, whether practiced deliberately or unconsciously – race, class, gender, favorite passtimes, lifestyle choices.
  • “Any old dead fish can float downstream,” as my Dad often said. Our American values and way of life do a lot of good for us, and we could appreciate that more than we do. But as a culture we also have some bad patterns going, aspects of life in which we’d be smart to swim against the flow.
    1. So, is there a pat- yourself-on-the-back incident from 2002 where you chose to swim the “wrong way,” regardless of the guff you took or how uncool you seemed?
    2. Or did you encourage someone else when they were scraping together the courage to do the same? Notice it. That’s a habit worth developing further.

New year – same old people – but maybe not quite. We’re still us, but we can be adjusting ourselves, and thus the culture we live in, by noticing and approving of good things we do, and then repeating them in the new days to come.
(by Larry Harvey, published in Southwest Nebraska News, January 3, 2003, slightly edited for 12/2023)

II. Life-changing 1-liners – Maybe good goal ideas for the new year.

Maybe the biggest secret is – if you fall 7 times but GET UP 7 times, you are changing – you are winning. That practice changes lives. And a corollary: If you do a new practice only 4 days a week, it can change your life. Zero days a week won’t.

These following are featured in Spiritual Tune-up Articles on this site. They are worth a few minutes of attention and might be quite valuable if turned into (flexible) resolutions. Click the sentence to see the original short article.

 “We know not of the future, and cannot plan for it much. But…
we can determine and know what manner of men
we will be whenever and wherever the hour strikes…
no man becomes suddenly different from
his habit and cherished thought.”

– Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a key commander at Gettysburg, 1863

The first act of love is always the giving of attention.
– Dallas Willard

Today I will do what others won’t,
so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.

– Jerry Rice

God is the friend of silence …
We need silence
to be able to touch souls.

– Mother Teresa

“Forgiveness requires acceptance of the fact
that the past is not going to change.”

– unknown

There is absolutely nothing
in what Jesus himself or his early followers taught
that suggests you can decide just to enjoy forgiveness
at Jesus’s expense
and have nothing more to do with him.

– Dallas Willard

Hypocrisy or insincerity
is the first thing to guard against in prayer.
Beware not to say what you do not mean.
… Pour out your heart before Him.

– John Wesley

I fear the spirit of melancholy and constraint.
— Francis de Sales

III. See Also, Here at PublicChristian

  1. New Year’s Resolutions – The Work of Christmas Begins (Howard Thurman, and Jesus)
    What might Jesus REALLY want of us?
  2. New Year, Old Pain: “Sleepy Democracy is Over”
    A heartfelt call to activism
  3. It’s YOUR NEW YEAR! Some Simple Suggestions for 2018
    Limits, and freedom within limits, and good values
  4. Hey, It’s New Year’s Eve
    VERY short – but worth it!
  5. New Year! Suggested Priorities, Maybe a Resolution or Two.
    Serve outwardly, judge and reform inwardly.

IV. Sites to Maybe Browse

These offer specific ideas (which I’m not necessarily universally recommending).

They include a new year’s resolution worksheet or two:

V. So – Do You Have A Resolution for Next Year – A Resolution to Embark on an On-Going Personal Development Project?

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