As the final days of December wafted away and January inched ever closer, I felt a small panic beginning to rise in me. I need to make plans. I need to think through goals. I need to. I need to.
I am not one of those people who belittles resolution-making. Making things happen in life generally requires having a plan and working the plan while staying wide open to miracles that could gloriously set all your dreams in motion. There is tremendous value to assessing where you are and where you want to be, honestly identifying what is working and what is not.
What I found myself resisting was the need to have the introspection done, all these goals identified, new habits and patterns and disciplines ready to commence on January 1. I’ve always pushed myself for this, but I have been battling weariness and I knew. I just couldn’t make it happen like that.
One of my aunts – so wise – commented somewhere that while she knows the value of well thought resolutions, she finds she’s generally too tired after the holiday season to try and work it all out in time for the New Year. She has a February birthday, and so she gives herself until then to make her assessments and adjust her course.
For me, waiting until my birthday would be pretty impractical (July baby here, so half the year would be gone!). But I decided to take the entire month of January to rest and to calmly formulate some plans and goals, to allow myself to wallow in some dreams and find out if they are still really what I want.
An awareness has dawned. I think so often our resolutions happen like an impulse buy – it seems like a good idea at the time, but we haven’t fully thought it through, only to discover later maybe we didn’t want it that much after all. And there goes another failed resolution.
Add to that goals that are exactly what we want, but they’re never practically broken down into a workable plan, almost guaranteeing their failure as soon as they are formulated.
And the biggest flaw in the mix (at least for me personally) – while the holiday season is undoubtedly wearying and busy, there is still a certain slowing that comes with it. Regular routines and schedules are temporarily suspended. Lots of time is made for people and eating and fun. There’s a certain grasp on reality that gets lost. And then you sit down to make resolutions and anything seems possible, as if January 1 brings with it a magic re-start switch where you can go back to real life and implement all these new changes to your life at the same time.
Maybe this isn’t everyone, but it has certainly been me. (And I have a feeling I’m not totally alone.) The value of allowing myself an entire month to think through these things is that in the midst of my return to routine, I am able to assess what is practically going to work as I take steps for change. I’ve already been able to return to the drawing board a few times and say, “Ok, this goal is still good, but I need to think of a different approach for making it happen.”
So this post is a little more practical, but I feel there are people out there who get frustrated with this whole resolution process, not because they don’t see the value, but because the pressure has been too high. Here it is January 13 and maybe you feel like you’re failing already. And for you, I want to say, it’s ok to slow down. Give yourself some extra time. Who cares where anyone else is at with their resolutions and goal-implementing? The important thing is for you to be able to look back on your year and feel satisfied with the steps you were able to take.
Perhaps take a deep breath, find a quiet moment and begin the process again, allowing yourself some days and weeks to choose direction. The dreams pulsing in your heart are worth the grace and extra time.