It is said there are two kinds of people in the world — those who make New Year’s resolutions and those who don’t. I tend to fall into the second camp; after all, if there’s something worth doing or improving about myself, why wait for the rest of the year to pass before starting? Life’s too short. Let’s get going.
January is symbolic of new beginnings, however, so “New Year’s” resolutions seem more important than decisions we make on, say, Aug. 26. The flip side is that this sets us up for deeper disappointment when a New Year’s resolution doesn’t work out — and according to one study, more than a third of resolutions fail by the end of January.
Here are 3 New Year’s resolutions for the soul that can help us avoid the trap of self-loathing over “failure” and, instead, make 2015 more fulfilling.
1. Get a spiritual checkup. Sticking to a resolution starts with getting in touch with your own values. What do you really want to do, and what attitudes will help you succeed? Examining your own beliefs provides a foundation for acting on them.
A starting point for understanding your spiritual side better is the Belief-o-Matic quiz on Beliefnet.com. Take 20 minutes to see where you land spiritually, then consider how your answers can be a springboard to a happier life in 2015. If you’ve done this in the past, try it again. You might be surprised at how your beliefs have shifted in recent years — a shift that could provide clues as to why outdated resolutions don’t work any more.
2. Remember that new beginnings happen all year ’round. One of the most valuable reminders of this I’ve seen in recent years was an article by Rev. Betsy Scheuerman, formerly the minister at Unitarian Universalist Ocean County Congregation, in Toms River. Rev. Scheuerman pointed out that Unitarian Universalists — as people who draw on many sources of wisdom — have new beginnings to pick from all year. In pagan and Christian traditions, the spring equinox and Easter, respectively, signal the dawn of new life. In the Jewish and Islamic faiths, the new year begins in the fall.
You could carry this idea a little further. There is always something to serve as a metaphor for new beginnings: Daffodils poking up through the snow cover on a mild day in February. The first pitch off the mound at Yankee Stadium in April. Your daughter’s high school graduation in June. A new job. A marriage. A divorce. The year brings so many beginnings, there’s never a reason to give up trying if your resolutions haven’t worked out by the end of January.
3. Roll with the punches. Life is a journey, and it rarely happens on our own schedule or terms. New Year’s resolutions are not destinations; they are refueling points on our journey, goals with artificial deadlines. Yes, you have to work at your resolutions to make them happen, but in truth, most will happen in their own time.
Spiritual development, too, is a journey — one you must work at, one that has no timetable, and one that has no end. Resolving to deepen your spiritual nature can help you stay in the present, remain focused on a goal, and fret less if you have a hard time meeting it the first time. But like other resolutions, a commitment to spiritual growth is year-round and takes constant practice. The seeds you plant on Jan. 1 grow only with loving care and intention.
Happy New Year.
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