New Years Reflections
I hate New Years resolutions.
I’m a perfectionist by nature, so when I fail to keep a resolution — as I inevitably do — I feel like a failure and then I toss the resolution and then fail like a failure for tossing the resolution. It’s not a particularly healthy cycle, so I’ve given myself a pass on the resolutions for the last several years. Besides which, on the academic schedule I’ve followed for my entire adult life, August always feels more like the start of a new year. August resolutions aren’t really a thing, so I can’t fail at those.
But this year, for the first time, my kids are going back to school and I’m not. 2017 was a rough year, and I feel the need to regroup and think about what I want to accomplish as I move forward. I’m not making resolutions. But I am making goals and giving myself a word for 2018.
Stop picking up my phone when I wake up. I always intend to just check the weather, but then I check my calendar, and my to-do list, and my email, and once I’ve done that I might as well check Facebook, and then Twitter … and then the lunches need to packed and the kids need breakfast and I’m still in my pajamas and annoyed about whatever I’ve seen on social media. Breakfast of champions, digital edition. I’m not sure if I can stay off social media until noon, but I can at least wait until the kids are out the door.
Read more non-fiction. My non-fiction to-be-read pile is embarrassingly large (my fiction pile is also embarrassingly large, but at least it rotates), and given a choice I almost always pick up the fiction to read. My awesome theology book club is a help here, but in 2018 I want to put a dent in my pile of non-fiction books.
Start writing my book. I’m still processing my life post-academia, but I want to start moving forward. And even though I’m not exactly sure what that looks like, with the blog launched I’m ready to start working on something bigger.
Three goals, one word for the new year, and that word is SPACE.
A lot happened to me in 2017, and I’m still processing much of it. I like results; I like decisions; I don’t like uncertainty and waiting. But in 2018, I want to give myself space.
Space to grieve and to heal. Space to try new things, and to fail, and to try again. Space to breathe on bad days, space to be spontaneous and happy on good ones.
Space to fail at my goals, and start again.
Space for old friendships to move into new patterns and space for new friendships to grow.
Space for the Holy Spirit in my life, to listen and learn and grow in my faith.
I don’t want to be seduced by the expectation that a new year will be a better year and by the hope that I will end 2018 as the impossibly perfect version of myself. So I also want to give 2018 space to be hard and unpleasant and full of anger and sadness and failures. But I hope, through all that the year may hold, that I will grow and work and learn and love and hope.
And I pray the same for all of you.