Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash
Forget New Year's resolutions. Methinks we can do away with all of the grandiose ideas and even more grandiose regret that accompany these unrealistic expectations. Lest you think me a cynic, check out this Inc. article, which puts forth the statistic that by February, about 80% of us abandon these annual promises to ourselves.
Despite retailer's glowing claims about their product's ability to "update your space", get you "recharged and looking great", or "jump-start your year", there is no one-size-fits-all approach to self-actualization.
Attempting supermodel Karlie Kloss' Snow-Day Lower Body Strengthener might just leave you with frostbite and a torn groin muscle. Recording your schedule in Vera Bradley's 2020 Snow Lotus agenda may see you switching to sticky-notes by mid-January (your handwriting isn't pretty enough). This decade's perfect capsule-wardrobe you pinned in December far exceeds your Goodwill budget. Take a deep breath, friend, and push pause. May I make a suggestion?
That's right. Stop beating yourself up about the fact that you can't get with the program and, instead, pivot toward a plan that meshes with the way God made YOU. Unlike most New Year's resolutions, this is not a 180-degree pivot to jerk you in the opposite direction (those are hard on the knees!). I'm talking a gentle pivot of 5-10 degrees.
There are some perfectly awesome goals out there that are not for you because THAT IS NOT THE WAY GOD MADE YOU, DANG IT! No more comparison. No more envy. No more guilt. Accept your innate temperament and personality and run with it!
To begin the pivot, instead of creating a list of "resolutions", make a list of "refusals". Refusals are things you won't do. This is the list of secrets about yourself that you ignore every new year because "this year will be different" and "I just need to power through". Stop powering through, girlfriend, and just pivot by acknowledging these truths. Need some examples? Here are a few of mine:
I will never enjoy working out in a gym. (Stinky, germy, industrial)
I will never pray/read the Bible in complete solitude like a Franciscan nun. (Scandalous, I know.)
I will never spend more than $50 on a pair of jeans. (I'm lookin' at you, Silver.)
I will never cook family meals that require complicated or expensive ingredients. (Beef Steaks Wellington? Uh...no.)
I will never have large chunks of time to accomplish anything (at least at this life stage).
I will never enjoy reading depressing books, even if they are intellectually-stimulating bestsellers. (Sorry, Oprah)
I will never sit down to write a letter without it feeling like a chore. (Even Vera Bradley stationery can't fix this)
I will never iron my bed sheets or be as organized as Martha Stewart. (Seriously, does anyone iron their bedsheets?)
I will never have few enough clothes to constitute a capsule wardrobe. (This Bazaar article says you can reduce your closet to 27 pieces. I am getting close to that number at about 270)
Isn't this exercise freeing? Now that you know your list of absolute "won'ts", you can ditch the resolutions and create a list of pivots that are entirely within your grasp. Pivots are small shifts that yield big payoffs.
Here are some of my 2020 pivots:
1. Take 10,000 steps, 4-5 days per week.
Notice the wiggle room?
2. Spend the year checking off novels from my "must-read" list.
A few of these include:
-The Story of Us
-Before We Were Yours
-Salt to the Sea
-Juliet's School of Possibilities
3. Read books recommended by Ann Bogel at Modern Mrs. Darcy if review suits my interests.
I've come to rely on Ann's book reviews. Check out her site!
4. Work through a YouVersion study daily on the Bible App.
Through YouVersion, you can search by topic, such as anger, healing, and hope, as well as by favorite author or study title. I'm currently studying Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer.
5. Write one blog post per month.
With my book, Life After Infertility, slated for publication in the first quarter of this year, I hope to be spending more time on infertility-related blog and social-media posts.
6. Date each member of my family once a month.
With four teens in the house, this one is truly tough to make time for but, even if it's only while running errands, I still get to connect with my people one-on-one
7. Make lunches the night before.
Mornings are tough. I hope this simple pivot will get us back on track.
8. Write letters/cards on Sundays.
For some reason, I get my inspiration to send notes while plopped in a chair during Sunday worship. It only makes sense to strike while the iron is hot.
9. Watch a TV series as a family to connect with my screen-loving kiddos.
We're currently watching The Goldbergs (explicit language, but nothing they haven't heard on the bus ) and Lost in Space.
10. Say "yes" more often.
When Mark and I were poor newlyweds, I remember crossing "tissues" off our grocery list as an unnecessary expenditure. Later, while slogging through 10 years of infertility, I declined invitations to parties or getaways as we socked all of our cash, time, and future earnings into building our family. Now, with 25 years apiece of career experience and a house full of young adults, I see a glimmer of light in the tunnel.
That glow calls me to say yes to dates, trips, and adventures with the people I cherish. It beckons me to create a life in relationship which reflects the things I value most: creating, adventuring, and serving in ways that charge my God-designed battery.
Romantic dinners with my husband at our favorite Italian restaurant? Yes. Family getaways? Yes. Thrifting treasure hunts and wine weekends with my girlfriends. Yes and yes. Serving and mentoring those who desire to know Jesus more deeply? Oh yes. And writing. Always.
I want to leap into a life of faith that invites God to bring about miracles.
Unlike resolutions, pivots allow you to keep loving yourself as you strive for an improved you in 2020. If you find yourself falling off the wagon, it's easy to pivot. A pivot is only one foot off the floor sliding in a slightly new direction, a joyous dance.
A pivot says, "I'm not perfect, but I'm getting better". Like our heavenly father, pivots eradicate self-recrimination and infuse grace. And the more grace we grant ourselves, the more mercy we're able to extend to others.
2020 might just be "The Year of Grace". I like the sound of that. Pivot.
Until next time.
Your Hope Cheerleader,
I didn't get snail mail cards out this year, but sent this one out on social media. Happy New Year, everyone!