So what are your new day’s resolutions for 2021? Well, other than staying physically (not socially) distanced from people, wearing a mask, and getting a vaccine, it was a bit harder to look forward as we begin to crawl out of a pandemic and lean toward hope. So much still remains uncertain in our immediate future, but still we know that hope is necessary for health, and a commitment to recharge at the start of the new year is ingrained in our cultural experience. Perhaps this pandemic is a reinforcing support for looking at our New Year’s Resolutions in a different way: one day at a time.
Each year as we struggle to remember to write the correct year on our documents, to start to think about organizing our papers for taxes, to try NOT to think about the next long vacation (come on vaccine!) and recover from the long holiday which often comes with stressors of family and busyness, we are prompted to ‘begin fresh’ with resolve to change something in a positive way. To do something different in our life and thereby enhance our well-being or the lives of others. Ironically, this comes from an assumption that we are currently messing up, which in itself doesn’t seem like a strong start for anything. But that aside, many of us are aware that most resolutions falter after the first quarter. Researchers love to explore the development of new habits, citing that this can take as little as seven to as many as nineteen times of repetition to be fully formed. (Perhaps this explains why we still have to prompt our kids to say, “please” repeatedly…wait, maybe that is our habit!) But I would offer a couple other challenges to the lack of staying power of our resolutions.
We are well-intentioned to go to the gym, cut back on unhealthy eating, spend more time away from electronics and connecting with people, sign up to volunteer outside the school, snap less at those we love, etc. Great goals. When I frame this in terms of the work we do as Nurtured Heart practitioners, it seems the best beginning to our new year is to actually name what we are doing right already; and then do more of that. Keep it narrow and specific. One day at a time. And if we slip off the greatness pedestal, then reset yourself back right away. Not even tomorrow. But the next minute!!
In the same vein as my belief that complaining doesn’t serve us or make us greater, I see a parallel in ‘New Year’s Resolutions which are about where we have failed. Like the diet you are going to start next month, we should simply resolve each day/each moment to be new. We should simply have a New Day Resolution. Every day. Today I will not grumble when the alarm goes off. Success! Today I will let any person who signals, pull their car in front of mine. Today, when I forget my resolve, I will reset and apologize to my child for snapping at them for dawdling (they weren’t doing it to make me mad… oh, right… sorry, sweetie).
A friend of mine, counts the days of her successful marriage. They are up to about 12,000 so far. It’s a new way to think of renewal. Each day – rather than each year. For those of us who experienced loss or serious health changes last year, this concept is easier to get. And the funny thing about this New Day Resolution, is that is really IS about SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF. The small stuff is packing your bag the night before so that going to the gym after work is easier. The small stuff is texting your child (after school! ) to tell her you appreciated how quickly she was ready to go today – and making everyone’s morning less stressful. The small stuff is ignoring the emails and picking up the phone to call an out-of-state friend. The small stuff is remembering to bring canned food to church for the food bank. The small stuff is walking by the staff room and passing on the tray of cookies (when that becomes a thing again) someone brought in to be ‘kind’. Because if you can do the small stuff once, you can do it again. And then it adds up to the big stuff: Habits of greatness. That’s when New Day Resolutions become New Year Actions…and resolve is a minute by minute success plan.
Happy New Day!