I quit making New Year's resolutions a long time ago. I am totally the type of person who would set myself up for failure by choosing lofty goals and promising to create new habits that I knew I'd likely not stick to. After a while it seemed pretty pointless, so I started taking a different approach.
While I have written down a few smaller, attainable goals the last couple of years, what I've really focused on is the general direction my life is going, and doing things that slowly add momentum in the positive areas and gently begin to turn the not-so-positive things in a better direction.
It's like navigating a cruise ship. Those babies don't go anywhere in a hurry, right?
Generally, such is life. You can't lose 100 pounds in a month. Most people don't become millionaires overnight. Your house won't be organized if it never has been and you won't have a perfect routine in place by next weekend. It's unlikely you'll be successful if you go cold turkey when you quit drinking Mountain Dew or quit smoking.
But we can move toward something better. We can make small changes over time. We can strive for progress, not perfection, and (my apologies to Martha) that's a good thing.
I like the idea of closing the books - literally and figuratively - on one year and starting a fresh chapter on January 1. New beginnings ... clean slates ... it's all about learning from, but then moving on from the mistakes we made last year and building on all the good we did.
I am aiming to make 2011 the year of grace. In the year ahead, I will make it my goal to grant grace to others at times when in the past I might have reacted quite differently. Grace toward my children as they continue to learn about life and what it means to be good people. Grace toward my spouse as he balances the demands of his job and the challenges of being away from his family. Grace toward my friends who all have their own families and schedules and issues that cause them to express emotions that have nothing to do with me.
Grace for myself as I work on being the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, in-law, friend ... the best woman I can be. And most important of all, I will work on humbly accepting God's grace which is given so freely. Occasionally He reminds me that my focus is a little askew - I am much harder on myself in some areas than I should be, and I don't work enough on the things that I should. In those moments I will choose grace, not guilt.
So I might not make the typical resolutions anymore, but in my own way I resolve to make good use of the clean slate we've been given. Another year, another chance to improve.
How about you?
Happy New Year.