As 2016 draws to an end and we reflect on all that went right or wrong over the year, it is about to become part of our personal and collective histories. For good or bad, victory or defeat, or some combination thereof, the old year becomes a leaf in the tale of our lives. Decembers have a way of teaching us so much when we sit back quietly in their arms and reflect.
We stand now at the thrilling, yet uncertain, precipice of a new year. The refrains of Auld Lang Syne and the clink of glasses soon give way to more sober thoughts of how the new year will be. A lot of it will not be in your control or mine, however, with a bit of careful consideration, it can be one of personal growth. There is quite a bit you do have dominion over, should you choose to exercise it. I used to make ambitious resolutions that went unfulfilled. Typically, a full-throttle start in January would give way to lukewarm efforts by February, if I was lucky. By March, all bets were off and I was languishing amid Cheez-it crumbs and heaps of regret. Setting overly-rigid and unrealistic goals sets us up for disappointment, blinding us to whatever progress we do manage to make.
There is quite a bit you do have dominion over, should you choose to exercise it.
Some years back, I stopped making resolutions like “lose five thousand pounds”, “cook healthy meals every single night” and “keep the house spotless” because they weren’t realistic and usually ended in disaster and self-loathing. Instead, I have started choosing a single word to set the tone for my year to come. The site www.MyOneWord.org is a great resource about this process. They focus on the “Un-Resolution”. Here’s a quick overview from their website on this concept:
“Our resolutions seldom work because they are based on the type of person we’re tired of being rather than who God wants us to become. Plus, resolutions can be “broken,” leaving no room for the process of growth. What if our hopes for the year ahead centered instead on who God wants us to become, and the transformation process?
It’s okay to want to be a better you, and the New Year is a natural time to start. The question is, how? My One Word replaces broken promises with a vision for real change. When you choose a single word, you have a clarity and focus. You are moving toward the future rather than swearing off the past.” (www.myoneword.org)
I love this become it allows your goals for the new year to be more about the PROCESS rather than the PRODUCT. For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds, but you only lose 18 by the end of the year, you have made pretty remarkable progress. However, you haven’t met your goal. By choosing a word like HEALTHY as your One Word for the year, you have succeeded if you’ve lost 18 pounds. It seems to me we should start measuring our success more by whether or not we have had growth, not just necessarily if we meet a goal.
I love this become it allows your goals for the new year to be more about the PROCESS rather than the PRODUCT.
Over the years, some of my One Words have been COUNT, BELIEVE and INTENTIONAL. These allow me to reflect on what I am doing and make sensible plans, still allowing for progress even if I don’t attain a specific end goal. One of my favorite authors, Lysa TerKeurst, calls this “Imperfect Progress”. The idea is that sometimes we don’t try or try and fail spectacularly because we are too caught up in doing it perfectly. TerKeurst asserts that efforts that yield “imperfect progress” are better and more realistic. I heartily agree with her. Forward motion, no matter how slight, is still forward motion.
It seems to me we should start measuring our success more by whether or not we have had growth, not just necessarily if we meet a goal.
So as you gather with your people, celebrating a new year ahead, see it as a place full of opportunity for growth. Choose a word. Use it to anchor your motives and actions and to monitor your progress. I suspect you’ll find it much more personally informative and rewarding than the shackles of resolutions unresolved. May your 2017 be blessed and full of growth!