Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years' Resolutions

Ah, the new year - the time when every magazine, journal, blog, news station, etc. does one of three things:

The list of the top (or bottom) "X" things (where "X" is usually 10) of the year. An example is Listing the Year end Lists.
The list of predictions for next year, such as Five Fearless Predictions for 2011.
The resolution(s) for next year, or meta-resolutions, like Make 2011 Better.

This post falls into the third category, sort of. I don't propose to tell you my new year's resolutions because I don't have any. I don't intend to tell you how to make your new year's resolutions work, because I think they are silly. I will share with you a good alternative to new years' resolutions. I call it Lent.

Let's face it, when you make a new year's resolution you are resolving to instantly change something in your life. Forever. No way that's going to work out well, because forever is too long. Plus, there's no real reason to make the change other than "it's a new year". Who really cares? It's just another day.

Lenten, resolutions, on the other hand are made for a good reason - to prepare ourselves for the mysteries of Easter, and be closer to God. That's a bigger motivator than "it's a new year". Plus, a Lenten resolution is temporary - you can change back after 40 days, so it's much easier to keep by telling yourself "only 'X' more days." The thing is that, after 40 days or so, it's much easier to continue the improvements.

So I don't make new years' resolutions, I make Lenten resolutions. Each year I try to do  little better in either my behavior or my prayer life. It doesn't always "take" in that I often do go back to my pre-Lent behavior, but there's always next year.

By the way, the same thing is true for Advent which has the added benefit of being the Church's new year, but somehow I find it much harder to make and keep an Advent resolution, even if the time span is shorter.


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