Aunty, how come New Year resolutions don’t work for me?
29 December 2021 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
At the beginning of every new year I hear people talk about making resolutions. I’ve made many, and mostly, it’s been discouraging. I’m still overweight, though I’ve “resolved” many times to work on that. I’m still not on a steady exercise program—another resolution. I’ve also resolved to be more steady in my Bible study and prayer. None of these last more than a few weeks, if I manage to get started at all.
Aunt Sevvy, what do you think of the notion of making resolutions at the beginning of a new year?
Signed, Discouraged Again
You have discovered something that should be self-evident to all of us by now: everyone’s different. Which means we accomplish life changes differently, too.
Aunt Sevvy would never discourage anyone from wanting to make a positive change at the beginning of a new year. But if the pressure of a new year’s resolution is too much for you, it might not be the best time for you, despite its apparent popularity. Just because it’s January 1 doesn’t mean you’re prepared to change. May 9, for example, could work just as well—after you’ve seen a doctor, or joined a support group, or seen a financial specialist, or whatever it is you need to prepare for your change.
Change is hard, and we sometimes take failure to mean that the desired change is impossible. But failure is a normal part of the change process. As my dental hygienist tells me, flossing twice a week is better than never. It’s not all-or-nothing. When we look at failure as normal, it ceases to be so discouraging and instead helps us move forward with a more balanced and gradual change, which also may be more long-lasting.
One more thing:
One’s failure to keep one’s resolutions may mean you’re resolving to change things about yourself that aren’t necessary to change.
When Aunt Sevvy was young, because of something she learned in church about keeping “the morning watch,” she thought she needed to wake up at 5 AM to study and pray. She always failed. Years later she learned about built-in biological clocks. She’s naturally a night person, so vowing to awaken every morning at 5 AM wasn’t a worthwhile goal. It turns out she can pray at 9 AM just as well as 5 AM!
Some changes are worth it. Others aren’t. Remember the serenity prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
We will never be all we imagine we should be, and certainly we’ll never become perfect. But we can make positive changes. Remember that God’s grace shows up most clearly against the background of our imperfections.
New Year blessings,
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published — always without identification of the writer. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.