A fresh approach to New Years’ resolutions
How to make resolutions when life is changing.
I’m a woman of many lists. I love lists. Grocery lists, book lists, to-do lists. You name it, I’ve probably got a list scribbled down in a notebook or an iPhone note in list format. Perhaps my favorite kind of lists though, are New Years Resolution lists. There’s almost nothing that I love more than the freshness that comes with a New Year—the opportunity to re-create oneself simply because it’s January again.
I usually start thinking about my resolutions in early December. I'm definitely that girl who starts asking everyone, “Any New Years Resolutions?” the day after Christmas. But for some reason, as the past year came to a close and I scratched the corner of my brain for new resolves, I came up dry. On New Years Eve I tried to scribble down a couple resolutions: Read more, spend less, eat more vegetables, use social media less--But these were the things I resolved to do every year. And every year found myself writing down in my notebook yet again.
I couldn’t think of anything substantial that I wanted to change about my life. When I thought about what my broader goals might be for the upcoming year, the only thing that came up was fear and apprehension. I quickly attributed this to the fact that this is my last semester at Biola. Any goals that I’d make for 2018 would inevitably involve post-grad plans, next career moves and the possibility of relationships changing. I was afraid to make any resolutions because I was afraid to admit that 2018 would come with radical, life-changing shifts—not just the cute, Instagrammable kind of shifts you can document with a “New Year, New Me” caption.
When I really sit down and get real with myself, I realize how scary 2018 is going to be for me. I’ll be leaving the “Bubble,” which I so often complain about, but may find is actually quite a haven of safety. All of my friends who are currently in such close proximity to me will be soon be scattered across the country. And of course, there’s the ever-impending fear of scoring a job after I graduate—a daunting thought that I often push out of my brain as quickly as it enters. It's hard to make resolutions for the future when you’re scared of it.
And while I don’t have many answers for how to completely overcome that fear, I have some encouragements for anyone whose life is changing in the New Year.
The first is simple: Your fear is valid. And odds are, you’re not the only one who's afraid. With college or grad school applications hanging in the balance, living arrangements up in the air and a new life around the corner, everyone is more than likely just as confused as you are. No one knows exactly what the future holds, and it’s okay to be in that space.
Second, it’s important to make the most of your friendships while you can. The relationships you cultivate in school and college are some of the most important ones you’ll ever have. So, make that cafe date with the friend you rarely see anymore, go out for donuts even if you have an 8 a.m. class the next morning. Spend time in conversation with your friends about how to maintain a relationship after school and college. Channel every ounce of fear you may have about losing those relationships into actually making them work.
And lastly, keep making resolutions. You may have to push through several weeks of apprehensiveness, but it’s important to never let fear inhibit our growth. It may even help to change the language around it, in order to fit your own lifestyle. The word “resolution” in many of our minds may have the connotation of something that has to be made at the start of the year. But personal growth is something that should be cultivated year-round. Thinking of them as “intentions” rather than a check-list of resolutions offers more space for fluidity in our journeys, and allows us to exercise ownership over our own growth. Rest in the fact that there is space for your goals and aspirations to change as you ever-grow into the person God has created you to be.