Thoughts for New Year’s resolutions (Part I)

December 26, 2008 | Uncategorized | 25 comments

What I Learned When I Took My New Year’s Resolutions List to Adoration

I love doing New Year’s resolutions. It’s a perfect opportunity to reevaluate where I am in my life vs. where I’d like to be (and where I should be). As I do every year, I recently wrote up my resolutions for 2009, and it was a great list of changes I would make and new habits I’d like to try to adopt.

But then I did something I’ve never done before: I took the list to Adoration to pray about it. This turned out to be the best thing I could have done. I walked in thinking about my goals for 2009 one way and, an hour later, walked out of the Adoration chapel with a completely different view of what my priorities should be. I came away with an entirely new approach to the whole thing, along with a clarity, peace and zeal that were not there before.

In case anyone is interested, here are the things I felt led to ponder as I prayed about getting a fresh start in 2009:

  1. I have a food addiction. My inability to control my intake of processed carbohydrates is having a significant impact on my life — in fact, it wouldn’t be inaccurate to compare it to a minor drug or alcohol addiction in terms of how it affects my mood, energy levels and general ability to function. I need to admit this, acknowledge its true severity, and deal with it. This needs to be my top priority right now.
  2. I need to stop “drifting” through my days. Some of my current feelings of being overwhelmed or stuck in a rut are because I don’t approach each day in a purposeful way. Too often I wake up and then just drift aimlessly from one thing to the next without ever thinking through the big picture of what my priorities should be for the whole day. What the most important things are that I need to do, what I’m going to eat, etc. are often left to being spur-of-the-moment decisions, and that sets me up for making bad choices.
  3. I need to plan for backsliding. In the past, I have approach New Year’s resolutions as one-time changes that I will make, i.e. I’ll adopt some new eating or cleaning habit, and once I get over the initial hump this will just be something I do for life. Especially with big changes, this is an unrealistic goal for me. Anticipating the fact that I have a tendency to slide back into my old ways and planning to regularly review my goals and renew my commitment will help me make lasting changes (and keep me from feeling surprised and defeated when I don’t get it right the first time).
  4. I need to let others help me. As an introvert, I have a tendency to want to accomplish everything in isolation. I want to be able to read a book, think about it, and make changes by myself, all within my own little bubble. But over and over again I’ve learned that that’s not how God wants me to operate. With every item on my resolutions list, I need to ask, “Do I know anyone who has accomplished this same goal whose wisdom I could tap? Whom could I ask for support with difficulty making these changes stick?”

  5. Any list of New Year’s resolutions should having growing closer to God as the ultimate goal. I need to remember this and ask myself with each one, “Is my true desire with this goal to better conform myself to Christ?” This is true not only of the goal itself but the way I approach it (e.g. you could approach a budgeting goal in a God-centered way or a greed-centered way).

After I got these insights in Adoration, I ended up scrapping my previous list of New Year’s resolutions and creating a new one with much more clarity. I’ll share my new list in Part II of this post. (And if anyone else has been thinking about this kind of stuff, I’d love to hear about it.)

Hope everyone had a great Christmas!

UPDATE: Part II with the list is here.

25 Comments

  1. Diane

    I’m slowly working on mine for 2009. I’m generally not much of a resolution maker, but just before 2006 started, I realized I had never read entirely through the Bible. I thought I’d give a year-long read a try, along with a few other resolutions.

    That read-through was the one resolution I kept, and since then, I’ve done it again. Of all the goals I set for the new year, the spiritually centered ones are the ones I concentrate on most…the rest kind of follow along when your heart is in the right place.

  2. Catherine

    Excellent post! I have thought about my goals and resolutions, but haven’t put anything to paper yet. I appreciate your focus on the spiritual and on not working in a vacuum. Blessings!

  3. jesella

    Thank you for posting this. Every one of your five points describes me as well. Thank you for writing it so clearly! And thank you for the reminder to pray through planning and goal setting. My business coach gave me that reminder this week as well, and I think it’s a message I need to hear over and over again (being the independent introvert I am).

  4. Jodi

    Are you sure you’re not in MY brain, writing MY thoughts?!

    Love the blog, Jen. I’m often laughing with you, as it is pretty scary how alike our thoughts can be.

    Oh yeah, and I LOL when I saw the recent pic of the potty chair cup holder. My MIL would do the same think!

  5. Megan

    sorry no caps as i am typing with one hand while holding baby. what i did last year worked great for me. i chose one resolution to focus on each month. i only had to try one new thing at a time and by the end of the month it was a part of my routine or i was able to let it go, having given it a good shot. let’s see…in january i tried to work exercise into my day three times a week. in feb. i made an effort every day to say or do something nice for my husband. in march i made an effort to plan out our meals and grocery shopping. in april i tried to say a rosary every day (this actually went with lent and i did pretty well and wanted to keep it up after lent was over because i liked doing it but at some point i did let it slide). anyway, you get the idea. i loved concentrating on just one new thing at a time. i wrote each month’s resolution right there on the bottom of each month on our family calendar to remind myself. good luck!

  6. Teri

    I have to admit I actually have NOT been thinking of these things, so it’s good to read what you wrote.
    Somewhere “out there” in the world there seems to be a publicized move away from resolutions instead of toward them, and I get caught up in that – which sometimes leads to not considering “goals”, even.
    I like your idea. I will take my list (if I come up with one) or even my lack of list and go sit before Jesus at adoration next Friday and see what comes of it! Truthfully, my list would look a lot like yours. Perhaps I’ll just print yours out and attempt to pass it off as mine?… think God’ll notice??? (Just kiddin’ – I think I can do the work of making my own list – even if it IS remarkably similar.)

  7. Katy

    What a great idea to bring our resolutions to God before we drive ourselves with too many (or too few) or poorly thought out goals! I had to swap out processed carbs about 35 yrs. ago, when I was in my 20’s, due to a problem with my insides. The trick was to change over to things I liked pretty well and to just have the “white flour” stuff as a treat (on one of the S days, maybe?) If you can find some kind of bread/muffins/etc that you enjoy, it seems to go along better. I’ll be praying for you on that score!

    On the part about needing people to support us in our goals…who was it that said, “God promises to make you free. He never promised to make you independent.” Rats! So much for the 2 year old in me that says “I do it MYSELF!”

  8. Anonymous

    The night before Christmas Eve I made a mad dash out the door with my crazy last minute must do list. As I was about to embark upon the wildly busy shoping plaza the thought “ADORATION” popped into my mind. So I left the mania behind and went to adoration. And like you Jen, I went in one way and came out another.

    I never did go back to the shoppping plaza for all those gifts. I went grocery shopping and slowly took my time and relaxingly picked out things for our Christmas Eve meal.

    Adoration is a realism. Being before the True Presence brings clarity.

    I too struggle with food addiction. I believe many stay at home moms battle with carving out a “purposeful” day. I have been a stay at home mom for 18 years. Without focus one day can drift into the next. For me, I need something to focus upon that feeds my creativity and intellect not related to home/husband/child care. When I look back upon when it flows best it includes taking care of Mind,Body Soul.

    When the babies were young that meant getting up at 4:45 going to the gym then right to mass and home before the gang was restless. Body and soul attended to before the day was in full swing. Invigorated I would throw the wash in the dryer that I has put into the wash the night before. Lets just say that by ten o’clock I was on a real roll.

    I would always set up play dates the week before to “force” myself to socialize. Often I made these dates with people I did not know well but our children played well together. They are still some of my closest friends.

    I could go on and on. Now that our youngest is in school all day I feel like I am new at this all over again. How do I fill my day purposefully and not drift through… I would love to work but want to be here when the kids get home. Most especially the teens. It is not an easy age.

    So lets us pray that by making God our center, or allowing him to be the center we can day by day be resolute in our journeys toward Him. Knowing that grace builds upon nature.

  9. autumnesf

    Thanks for writing my resolutions out for me! LOL!

    Thinking along the same lines for sure!

  10. Sarah

    I haven’t read this yet, but just found the book, Potatoes Not Prozac, which promises to help with carb addiction. I plan to at least read it and maybe try it.

  11. Multiple Mom T

    I haven’t started on my list, but I LOVE yours! My first thought when I saw resolutions as a title was all about my new business. When I got into the meat of your entry, though, God’s finger kept poking me right in my chest. Ouch, God! Stop doing that! Well, ok, I guess it’s ok for HIM to poke. ::giggle::

    Seriously, thank you for the timely message. Although as a Protestant I don’t have “adoration” as such, I can certainly go before God in sincere prayer.

  12. Faith

    Wow, you have such clarity and honesty. What a blessing you are! I guess I’ll just say: what she said! Because, for me, you said it all!

  13. Can I Change A Life?

    My struggle is with using adversity to grow closer to God.

    Several years ago I had a chronic illness that laid me up in bed in pain for years. I finally got past most of it, had a somewhat normal life, and now it appears I’m greatly backsliding.

    I realize people have gone through worse and stayed close to Him. I realize the way Jesus died should give me so much food for thought going through this. Logically I can work through a lot of things, but mentally I become a mess when my world gets so narrowed.

    I am mainly telling you this hoping for your prayers and the prayers of all who read this.

    Thanks.

  14. Shelly W

    I think you are very wise . . . and very brave . . . for posting this. Can’t wait for part II.

    Like Anonymous, I find it hard to find purpose when all of my children are in school. That’s why I like blogging and writing so much.

    New Year’s goals will be interesting for me this year, but you have added a new dimension–that of thinking through spiritual goals first.

    Great post!

  15. Judy

    Jennifer, I strongly recommend http://www.radiantrecovery.com and the book Potatoes not Prozac (fyi – the author didn’t want this as the title, but it was catchy!)

    I’m also a convert. My younger daughter’s boyfriend is an atheist/agnostic (not sure which.)Your story gives me hope that he will be able to recognize God in his life.

  16. Wifers

    I discovered you a while back and have recently had time to read more of your posts. Thank you! Thank you for writing with transparency and authenticity. I have much to ponder after reading this post as well as the ones about saying no to protect what you say yes to. Good stuff.

  17. Anonymous

    Oh my gosh, I could have written this list! Especially the food addiction thing. I so struggle with this; how can I love God and have a relationship with Him and still have this millstone around my neck? Please share as much as what you are comfortable with as you go through this struggle this year.
    Vicki

    God bless you and give you the wisdom and strength to accomplish all He has for you this new year.

  18. pharmgirl

    Have you ever tried 101 things to do in 1001 days? I’ve been doing that for a few years now. It’s a neat project to help you improve your life, especially if you have goals that may take awhile to complete.

    Also, I know what you mean about drifting through your days! I’m at loose ends until the beginning of February (long story), so I have to force myself to structure my days, otherwise I’ll spend the whole day goofing off. (I don’t have kids.)

  19. beckygiggles

    I’m waiting with baited breath for Part II. You have hit the nail on the head as you so often do. I, too, have food issues, aimless meandering days, and tend to not stick with resolutions. This year I intend to start with my heart and ask God to change my attitudes and desires. I need to change my eating habits, not just to be smaller, but to be healthier and to set a better example for my girls. I want to be a better homemaker, not just to get my husband off my back, but to provide a cozy bubble for my family in this crazy world. I want to have a purpose in my days, not just wander from one unfinished task to another. I know if I do these things for the right reasons God will help me and I will do it for His glory. Thanks so much for your blog. You help me find the spiritual in the mundane. And you make me almost pee my pants whenever a scorpion crosses your path.

  20. Carolyn

    Thank you, Jen, for your great words on resolutions – I can’t wait for Part II! And I feel your pain with the food addiction – combating that is an annual resolution of mine!

    Last year my resolution was to finally keep a promise to myself – to finally seriously delve into this world of religion and develop a relationship with God. Best decision ever, and I’m convinced that as soon as I committed to this in my heart, God showed me the way.

    This year I’m hoping to improve my prayer habits – I’ve definitely improved over this year, but I still struggle – and of course continue on my journey and growing relationship with God.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and resolutions as we approach 2009!

  21. Heather of the EO

    I love your perspective on resolutions. I’m not a very purposeful person, I tend to drift through as well. I also am easily distracted, it’s hard for me to focus (not only because I have small kiddos, but because that’s how my brain works). I just wanted to say I REALLY appreciate this post for many reasons. It gives me food for thought and some ideas for my own life. Thank you!

  22. Sarah Reinhard

    I’ve been thinking about resolutions too – seems to come hand-in-hand with the Christmas rush and mush. Some of what you pointed out have been things I have been reflecting on too, especially the part about leading you closer to God. I need to get writing about this! (I’ll link back to you) What I’ve been pondering can’t be summarized in your combox without taking up far more room than it should 🙂

  23. Maria

    Have you ever read “A Mother’s Rule of Life” by Holly Pierlot? If not, I highly suggest it for helping create some struture for your day. Her philosophy is very similiar to your reckless experiement with prayer. The basic premise is to create a “rule” of life similiar to that of a religious order that works for your household. This is much more than just a schedule or routine. It’s a deeper structure for your life created around correct priorities: God, self, spouse, children. It’s been unbelieveably helpful to me in working towards not always “drifting.”

  24. Xia

    Hello,
    I am a recovering food addict and encourage you to check out the food plan that I have been following for the last 8 years at http://www.kaysheppard.com/ This plan literally saved my life – I was going to kill myself because I couldn’t get a handle on my addiction after YEARS of trying counseling, therapy, etc. I follow this plan and attend RFA 12-step meetings. See more about RFA here: http://www.geocities.com/RFA77235/
    You can read my story that is now 5 years old, but gives you an idea where I come from by going to this link http://www.kaysheppard.com/articles.htm and then clicking on the last article: Stephanie Z.’s story…. I now have 8 years now by the grace of God. The true miracle is that my recovery lead me back to my Catholic Faith after being gone for over 10 years. It gave me a daughter I was told I would never have and I am now expecting daughter number 2. Feel free to contact me any time for further info. I am so blessed by your blog and would love to help you in any way I can. God Bless,
    Stephanie Z. (Xia’s Mommy)

  25. Skyraven

    Hi Jennifer,
    I came upon your site a few months back, but I don’t remember what originally drew me to your site. I enjoyed this post immensely and am glad to read about someone who’s going through similar things (ie – introvert and wanting to do everything alone.). 🙂 I can defintely relate to what you’re talking about when you write about drifting from one thing to another and living the day without purpose. I generally don’t make resolutions because I don’t pull them off. Instead I list goals for myself and make a plan(or try to) to get the goal accomplished. YOu’ve given me a great reminder that I should live my life with purpose and continue to challenge myself. When I feel that I got things covered, I get complacent and then feel horrible when I make a mistake that I should have seen coming. My hindsight is 20/20 and I want to get my foresight to match. Thanks so much for posting this and I wish you many blessings for the coming year! Heiddi

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