Every year, I and countless other people make New Year’s Resolutions. And every year, most of us break most of them. The reasons vary, but most resolutions do not survive the year. That leads a lot of folks of a sensible but perhaps a little cynical bent to deride the practice as worthless or just a source of disappointment.
I disagree; I think the practice, even, perhaps especially, given the ephemeral nature of the resolutions is valuable.
For one thing, failed resolutions can be a convenient reminder that even the most sensible of us can’t always predict how things will turn out. It can be a good hedge against Pride to realize that we didn’t accomplish something we wanted to as long as we don’t fall into the trap of self-loathing about it. That same reminder of our own finite and fallible nature, especially so closely placed to Christmas, can help drive home just what a wonderful thing it is that God loves us and chose to walk among us in human flesh, experiencing what we experience as we experience it.
I also think also there’s tremendous value in sitting down once a year and really thinking about what you’d like to do with your life. Modern life is, almost by definition, busy and distracting. Even as an introvert, married to another introvert, with no children and a job that allows me excellent work-life balance, I find my attention constantly in demand for a thousand things, both petty and important, and even when I’m not busy, there’s always Netflix and Steam. It’s nice to have an annual ritual where we stop for a bit and contemplate what, exactly, we actually want to do with ourselves. (This same phenomenon, by the way, is why I also enjoy long car rides with my wife; driving removes a lot of the technological distractions and gives us time to talk.) There are some nice parallels between annual lists of things I’d like to make better about myself and the doctrine of Progressive Sanctification I believe in as a Methodist.
And finally, making some resolutions acknowledges the clean slate that a new year brings, but it also puts a few brushstrokes on the canvass so you’re not staring into a void of endless, yet empty, possibilities. Or maybe that’s just me.
So I’m doing what I always do at this time of year: I’m assembling a list of things that I’d like to do with my life and I’m going to try to accomplish some of them in the coming year.
With that in mind, I offer the following resolution-related suggestions:
– Pick stuff you WANT to do, not just stuff you HAVE to do or feel you SHOULD do. If you’re anything like me (and face it, if you’re reading a post about resolutions on the website of a Christian RPG podcast, you’re probably more like me than either of us is comfortable with) you’ll have more success and less guilt that way.
– Pick out a few things that you’d like to try, but never have. In my personal lists, this often takes the form of game systems, and I have a few in mind for this year.
– Pick stuff you’ll want to “renew” if you don’t get it done this year.
– Divide your list into categories. Here on Saving the Game, we’ve used the categories of Faith, Personal, and Gaming, but obviously those are driven more by the format of the podcast than anything else.
– Don’t be afraid to let resolutions go if you realize you don’t want them any more.
– Pick at least a few things that won’t benefit just you if you pull them off.
– Have fun with it! Silly resolutions are fine, as are difficult ones.
– Share them! (Perhaps not all of them, but the ones you’re comfortable sharing.)
– Check in on them periodically throughout the year. (Doing this is one of mine for this year.)
Happy New Year, and I hope to see you in the chat room on the 8th!