A friend predicted (correctly) that I don’t make New Years’ resolutions. Then he asked me to talk about why, and it got me thinking. I came up with two reasons.

The first reason is that I don’t want to think in terms of “fixing” myself.

I’m a glorious holy mess, created in the image of God***, and that’s ok with me. I am a mistake-maker, a desirer of truth, beauty, joy… how could I improve on that? I do want to change things about my life, but I don’t want to change me.

*** this, my friends, can be seen as a metaphor. Atheists, please don’t get your panties in a wad. Created in the image of God, to me, means I’m a creator, and I’m drawn to the treasures: truth, beauty, love.

It seems like resolutions are about “I could suck less if only I…” & they’re a way of addressing shame that we carry around all the time. If i think of myself as lazy (and therefore bad), or disorganized (and therefore bad), or fat (and therefore bad), then this NY resolution thing is an opportunity to stop hating myself so much.

I’m all for addressing shame, but I think I have better strategies. I want to be present in my life all the time. (If shame is coming up, I want to address it in the moment, not once a year.) I want to be asking questions, changing how I approach things that aren’t working. If I see myself as lazy, I want to ask what’s that about? There is something I’m doing (or not doing) that I then respond to by calling myself lazy. What do I get out of doing (not doing) this thing? There’s something important in there, or I wouldn’t be doing it.

So I look at what I need as a human being that I’m trying to get by doing/not-doing this thing, and then I say, ah yes, that’s important! Maybe it’s relaxation (I’m tired), ease (from pressure to accomplish, or habitual guilt), joy (because I haven’t learned to enjoy doing dishes)… etc. These are all beautiful things.

Yet I notice that I enjoy a clean kitchen, too. How can I have all those beautiful things and also the nice experience of a clean kitchen?

The second reason I don’t make ‘resolutions’ is that I don’t make commitments or promises at all. I make intentions, but a promise is like a threat for the future, and I don’t want to live under threats. Like I’m telling myself, as of the moment I make the promise: “Now you’ll do it because you *have* to, or you’ll be bad/wrong/etc.” I want to get better at finding the loving thing in every moment. I don’t want my moments full of something I decided months ago would be a good idea. I want to stay flexible and listen to what’s happening.

It really doesn’t mean I don’t form intentions and stick with things. It just means I don’t create coercive stories and then do stuff from the coercion. I do what I’ve led someone to expect me to do because of all the wonderful results of that predictability, not because I “promised.”

I’m all for noticing things and adapting. I just want to do it way way more often than once a year. I want to choose love in every moment. That’s no small thing, and I screw it up all the time. But looking back on a whole year and then demanding that I try harder doesn’t seem like the path to more love & less fear.

One of my favorite teachers is a big fan of resolutions. Are you? How do they make your life better?

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