Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I do. They usually last until February or March, then I’m making the same ones again the next January. Last year, I did something different. Instead of making resolutions, I set goals. And while I didn’t achieve all the goals I set, I had a lot more success going about it that way. This year, I’ll be setting more goals, but I’ll be adding one very important resolution. My one resolution is not something I’m going to do, but something I’m not going to do.
When 2017 began, I had already purchased the domain name for my blog, but I had no idea how to set up a blog. Setting goals was crucial to getting the blog up and running. I started a bullet journal for the purpose of writing down my monthly and weekly goals. (Now that journal also contains lists of everything from workouts to wine; paint colors to children’s books. Of course, there are a few to-do lists in there as well!) As I made my way through a year of blogging, relationships, and life changes, I found that one thing constantly threatened to pull me off course.
As a writer, I wish it could be simply stated, but it’s too complex to sum up in one easy tag line. So I’ll do it in five: trying to fit in, comparing myself to others, looking for my niche, wanting to belong, searching for my tribe. It’s easy to say, “Just be yourself,” but hard to define exactly who that is. When you have a blog, you are your brand, and you have to decide what that brand is going to be. But you also learn very quickly that some of who you want to be simply isn’t the person that you are. For example…
When I was in my twenties, I had a co-worker who turned heads every time she walked into a room. Part of the reason for this was her height – about 5’10”. One day, after she had been working there for years, she came in before business hours to pick up her paycheck. Everyone there was stunned to find out that she was only 5’6” (just like me). No one had ever seen her without her high-heeled shoes! I thought, “Wow! Why didn’t I think of that? It’s such a simple thing. If you want to be taller, just wear really high heels every day.” Sounds like a New Year’s Resolution in the making, doesn’t it? “I’m going to wear high-heels every day.” I tried it. It lasted about two weeks. I’m just not a high-heels-every-day kind of girl.
I’ve never been a “girlie” girl. I don’t have a bathroom full of beauty products. I hate shopping for clothes. I never know what to do with my thin, frizzy hair. All reasons I am not a fashion blogger. Would I like to look ready for a photo shoot every time I leave the house? Sure! Who wouldn’t? But that’s not me. I’m not a celebrity. I’m a mom who needs to run to Hobby Lobby before the kids get home from school. So this year, there won’t be any resolutions about wearing heels, or makeup, or nail polish. I’m going to give myself permission to dress up when I feel like it, and skip it when I don’t.
I’m not a creature of habit who likes to follow the same routine every day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve resolved to adopt a morning routine or a bedtime routine. These resolutions last about three days for me. Ugh! Talk about setting myself up for failure! I’ve learned that some seasons of life are more conducive to routine than others. As a stay-at-home mom of kids in elementary school, all it takes is a day off from school to make me throw my schedule out the window. I won’t be making any resolutions that include the words “every day.” I hope to use the days of 2018 wisely, but that doesn’t mean they all have to look the same.
I’ve always been a bit of a chameleon. I try to change my colors to blend in with those around me. When I was a kid that meant behaving differently depending on whether I was with my school friends or my church friends. As an adult, it means trying to relate to both home-schooling stay-at-home moms and career-oriented trendsetters. I’m not sure I belong in either group. I’m more of a football-watching, dessert-eating, art-appreciating introvert. (Is there some sort of group for that?!) There won’t be any people-pleasing resolutions for me this year. This year I want to focus less on who people think I should be and more on who I was created to be.
Don’t misunderstand me – there’s nothing wrong with striving for self-improvement. New Year’s resolutions can be the beginning of meaningful change. I want to make a case for realistic resolutions and goals that magnify the gifts and talents we already have, rather than trying to turn us into people we weren’t meant to be. If you hate salad, don’t resolve to eat salad for lunch every day. If you hate getting up early to exercise, don’t resolve to go to the gym every morning. If you love to travel, don’t resolve to save more money this year. If you want to save money, don’t resolve to travel more this year. If you hate organizing, don’t clean out your closet this year. Who’s going to see it anyway?
It’s not that I’m advocating for a year of slacking. I’m simply suggesting that we give ourselves some grace. Why beat ourselves up if we aren’t successful at something that’s totally at odds with our God-given talents? Why not do what we know we can do, instead of what we think everyone expects of us? Maybe the world needs more of what you have to offer. Maybe this is the year we resolve to do more of what we love for the benefit of others. Let’s not compare ourselves to others and ask, “Who do I want to be like?” Instead, let’s ask ourselves who we already are and how we can be even more of who we were created to be.
What do you love to do? What talent or skill do you have that can be a blessing to others? Share what you want to do (or not do) this year in the comments. The first step to achieving a goal is writing it down!