We don’t do a New Year’s “Resolution”, we do a “Reevaluation”. For some people, setting specific goals (“I will lose 15 pounds by the end of March”) works beautifully. Not for us. Considering the number of people who actually follow through on their resolutions, it just doesn’t work for most people. Several years ago we came up with an alternative that has actually made an amazing difference in our perspectives and values. Instead of setting a concrete goal, we reset the direction of our lives. Here’s how it works.
First, we make some time to sit down together, without interruption. Usually we plan this for several days before the New Year so that we have time to think about the things we talk about. This is our time to reflect on the year we’ve had. We talk about what God has taught us, how we’ve grown, what we’ve accomplished, and any other points of interest. Some years we spend quite a bit of time talking about what we could have done differently. This isn’t in a negative way, but in a way that we hope will help us to gain wisdom from our mistakes.
The second part is sometimes done a day or two later, depending on whether we have the time and energy to continue. This part is started separately. My hubby and I get out paper and pens and we start writing down things in our lives that aren’t the way we want them to be. We include every area of our lives that we can think of, such as relationships, health, work, home life, hobbies… whatever comes to mind.
Next, we share our lists with each other and brainstorm together on ways that we can move in the direction we want our lives to be going. We try not to be too specific about our solutions (“We will spend 30 minutes, 3 times a week at the gym”), because that just sets us up to fail. That kind of thing is good in theory, but it doesn’t take into account how messy real life is. Once we “fall off the wagon” with a resolution, we are too discouraged to jump back on.
I know this sounds a bit vague, so here’s an example. One year we both had mono and we spent months just barely doing the necessities. We were exhausted and we felt discouraged by the apparent lack of progress in our recovery. We knew we needed to increase our activity to recover our energy, but we didn’t put ourselves on a strict exercise routine. Instead, we came up with some fun activities that we could do together. We agreed to start taking slow walks together and we started doing little spurts of exercise and telling each other about it (“I did 20 crunches today!”). We didn’t stipulate the times, repetitions or frequency. Together we just started moving in the direction we wanted to go.
Another example is when we both wanted to make a habit of keeping a journal. In this situation, we did set some specifics, but not regarding the actual writing. We decided to have a “Sabbath” every Saturday. We’d have a quiet morning at home, then we’d take our journals with us to a nearby restaurant and we’d each go over our own entries from the week. After that, we’d share whatever we wanted to share with each other while we enjoyed our favorite meals. Sometimes we’d be there for less than an hour, sometimes we’d spend all afternoon talking. It was the most precious part of our week. We didn’t have to make ourselves sit and write for a certain amount of time every day. Our “Sabbath” was something we looked forward to so much that we were both eager to write down our thoughts to share. Yes, some weeks one of us may only have written once or twice, but that was okay. We were still moving in the direction we wanted to go. Since we hadn’t “failed”, we weren’t discouraged. We just kept moving forward.
We’re going to do our New Year’s Reevaluation in the next few days and I’d like to encourage you to do one, too! I’d love to hear about it, if you do!