2022, More or Less
I woke up this morning thinking about what I most wanted to say to you on this second-to-last day of 2021.
The end of a year can be such a mixed bag of emotions. For some the anticipation of a New Year is exciting. Perhaps you’re one of those who sees the potential of that clean calendar. You wonder what gatherings, events and achievements you might fill it with. For you, hope springs anew with the turning of the page from December to January.
Or, perhaps, you might be entering these next few days with a sense of anxiety that comes with uncertainty. If this past year didn’t find you reaching the goals you hoped to reach, it’s possible that you’re worried if you’ll be able to make it happen in this next year.
Maybe you’re feeling a sense of dread, simply because you don’t like endings, or perhaps the reasons are heavier- the idea of entering a new year without that job, relationship or loved one feels like too great a weight to bear. If this describes you, please hear me when I say I’m sorry you’re going through this. Please be gentle with yourself now and in the coming months.
No matter what the past twelve months held for you, the consensus seems to be that we are collectively seeing this year in the rearview mirror with a “good riddance” vibe. Many wish they could pretend like 2021 never happened, and I get that. Given the events over the past 364 days, I could make a strong case that no matter how you’re feeling about this holiday, there’s likely to be a little “good riddance” mixed in.
Wherever you are, and for whatever reason, it is my hope that some of what you find here will resonate with you and maybe even offer some hope and encouragement as you prepare for this New Year.
Looking Back-What’s Helpful (and not so helpful)
While dwelling on the past isn’t something I generally encourage, a look back can be a good opportunity to take an inventory of the previous year, if we can stay out of judgment. This might be more difficult for some of us, particularly if we’re accustomed to equating our successes with our value.
Taking a stance of curiosity and looking back as if we were researching can be a helpful approach. We can reflect on the previous year with a goal in mind of finding clues for what it is we want (and don’t want) in this next year.
Looking back can help us answer two important questions:
1. What do I want more of in the coming year?
2. What do I want less of in the coming year?
The questions seem simple, I know. But these questions can take you deeper than you might imagine. The idea of “more” can lead us to thinking about things like healthy relationships, time out in nature, a deeper spiritual walk, more emphasis on our emotional or physical wellness or even “more” attention to certain people and things in our lives.
And “less” can lead us to the idea of being less critical of ourselves, less fearful, less judgmental, or less available (I know that might not sound like something we would want “less” of- but being less available to the wrong things makes space to engage in some of those “mores” you listed.)
You might be saying, “That’s all fine and well, Gina. But what about the tradition of making an actual New Year’s resolution?”
Well, I have a tip for you. Are you ready?
Don’t. Make. One.
I’m not kidding. This might be an incredibly unpopular opinion, but just stick with me here. What motivates us to make resolutions in the first place? Often, it’s out of obligation or pressure to change something about ourselves. Typically, the resolutions are broad, so falling off the commitment to them is inevitable. It’s hard to hold onto something ambiguous.
To complicate things, this year finds us still in the throes of a pandemic, and all the challenges that come with it. So, while keeping resolutions in a “normal” year (if there is such a thing) can be difficult, add in current circumstances and there is a far greater likelihood of feeling deep disappointment in ourselves if we fail to keep those New Year’s promises.
Still, there are some of you who will insist on maintaining this tradition. And if that’s you, I get it. So, let’s look at some things that might help set you up for success.
Sticking With It
In a post I made previously about keeping promises to ourselves, I offered some helpful tips. And since a resolution is really a promise we make, I find similar tips to be of value here, as well.
Tips for Successful Resolutions
· Write down and display your resolution along with the anticipated benefit(s). It’s a motivator to be reminded of your “why.”
· Break down the resolution into SMART goals. SMART stands for…
Specific: Well-defined, clear, and unambiguous
Measurable: Use specific criteria to measure your progress toward accomplishing your goal
Achievable: Attainable/not impossible to achieve
Realistic: Within reach, realistic, and relevant to your purpose
Timely: Clearly defined timeline; date/target date.
· Make resolutions based on your answers to our previous questions: what do you want more of and what do you want less of this coming year? If the resolution is rooted in what other people expect from you or pressure you about, it’s probable you will not keep your commitment.
· Don’t be afraid to press the reset and reevaluate if it's not working. Learning how not to do something is progress, too!
· Share your resolution with a trusted friend, ask them to be your accountability partner. Better yet, find someone with similar goals and work on your resolutions together.
Following these suggestions can help improve the likelihood of your success and keep you true to the goals that hold the deepest meaning for you.
A Benediction for The New Year
As we look ahead, I want to leave you with a gift. A benediction, of sorts. It’s my prayer for you in 2022.
May you experience and discover more of what feeds your heart and soul; the things that fill your cup.
May you cultivate healthy relationships (including with yourself) that call you deeper into expressions of your truest self.
May you experience boldness (different from arrogance) and courage (which doesn’t mean the absence of fear) to pursue your dream, your healing, your growth. Along with the boldness and courage to let go of whatever weighs you down, depletes you or causes you to shrink your personality or emotions.
And may God make Himself real to you in this year, in exactly the ways you need Him to.
May you experience, hope, grace, peace, and freedom in unexpected ways this New Year. And may you come to fully realize all the beauty that is in you.
Happy and blessed ’22 to You and Yours. See you next year!