As we enter into another year, reflecting on the one we just left behind, and putting hope into the new one ahead, it’s always a time of mixed emotions. For some, the sentiment is more “thank goodness that year is over!” For others, it’s a chance to hit the reset button, to recalibrate or recenter. Still, for others, it’s an exciting blank slate full of potential adventures, wishes, and dreams that may or may not come true. I think for all of us there’s a deep-rooted hope, no matter how skeptical we may be, that something will be different in the New Year. Whether it’s relief from a financial burden, a long sought-after business venture finally coming to fruition, the prodigal child returning home, a new relationship, a birth, a rekindled commitment to give up an old habit, or a long awaited ending to something, we look to the closing of one year and the beginning of another to mark these happenings. While there is much debate about the power or lack thereof of New Year’s resolutions, one thing remains true no matter our belief about resolutions: we look to this time of year to make decisions, changes, reflect, and renew.
A Different Way of Life
Rather than putting stock in resolutions that rarely make it past the first month of the New Year (more power to you if make them last longer!), why not get curious about a different way of life altogether? Not a series of dos and don’ts that often leave us feeling worse about ourselves when we don’t measure up, but a series of practices that guide us into a better mindset and can transform the way we live and interact in our daily lives. Not a checklist to achieve, but a practice to lean into and aspire towards. Something we can try over and over again because it’s a practice, not something to ever be perfected. I don’t know about you, but that sounds incredibly freeing to me! As Jesus said,
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV).
Jesus came to set us free from the man-made “rules and regulations” that so often tie us down and set us up for failure. Sometimes our well-intentioned resolutions do the very opposite of what we intended them to do. They keep us in a constant mode of striving and they can distract us from what really matters—living our lives in a way that reflects the freedom that Christ purchased for this weary world with his blood on the cross.
In my journey to find freedom from the striving and inevitable sense of failure that can come with resolutions, I found Brené Brown’s 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living, best described in her book The Gifts of Imperfection. What is this concept of Wholehearted Living? As Brené says, “Wholehearted living is not a onetime choice. It is a process. In fact, I believe it’s the journey of a lifetime.”
The goal is not to perfect any one guidepost, but to let them be just that, a guide into a more wholehearted way of living. Pick a few that really stand out to you and commit to cultivating more of that particular practice into your life this year. In order to cultivate more of something in our life, we need to let go of something else. For example, in order to cultivate more of Guidepost #8, “Calm and Stillness,” I need to let go of its antithesis, “Anxiety as a Lifestyle.” Pick up The Gifts of Imperfection for more detail into each guidepost and what it looks like to live it out.
If you’re tired of resolutions, or they never worked for you anyway, I invite you to get curious about Wholehearted living and explore it for yourself. It has certainly changed the trajectory of my life and I know it can for you as well.
And of course, Jesus, the only perfect example of Wholehearted Living, offers us the ultimate invitation for this year and for the rest of our lives:
“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 ESV).
- You can find more on Brené Brown’s work at https://brenebrown.com/.
Please subscribe for videos on our Youtube Channel for our amazing resources. I’ll be sharing great tips and encouragement for whatever your facing—whether you’re fighting mental illness or have a loved one who is.