So, I’m working on my sermon for Sunday. The theme, New Years. Sometimes the schedule works so that I use this theme before New Year’s Day. This year, we will be 35 whole hours into the new year before the sermon. Plenty of time for any resolutions to have already fallen by the way side. I still think it can be a useful time for reflection.
I am starting to gain some clarity about what I think about New Year’s resolutions. An experience last night at the meditation group was helpful. We used some questions from an article in the Huffington Post. The questions, the article said, are inspired by Kabbalah (a mystical branch of Judaism). What I like is that the questions don’t actually generate resolutions. Instead, they encourage reflection on what is important to you. Such reflection might help you keep any resolutions you make or might help you make more reasonable resolutions in the first place. But more important, the questions inspire reflection on the direction you are headed and ask if there is any course correction you would like to make. The questions are ones of intention.
My concern about resolutions is that they are often too specific and too difficult. We set ourselves up for failure. The first time we have an extra dessert, don’t get to the gym, or lose our temper, we give up. In many arenas, it might be more useful to set an intention for the year rather specific goals. For example, “This year I intend to take better care of myself” or “This year I will be more compassionate.” Of course, it is important to think about what these would look like in practice (fewer desserts, more exercise, less shouting). However, it seems to me that a focus on the reason for any changes and the underlining purpose of specific actions would be more likely to sustain us for the long haul. Such a focus allows us to use our values and intentions as a guide, whatever life might have in store for us this year.
However you celebrate the turning of the calendar, I wish for you a year that finds you in tune with all that is most important to you.