Did you fulfill your New Year’s resolutions last year? Since only one in ten people keep their resolutions, I’m guessing your answer is no. Resolutions, like losing weight or getting more exercise, are easy to make but difficult to maintain. Our good intentions are met with real-life situations that edge out our desires with daily challenges to overcome. You can only face defeat so many times before you start feeling like a failure.
The reason most of us don’t keep our New Year’s resolutions is that there is no joy in the process. When all you can see surrounding your new year is work and striving, it’s easy to understand the push to give up.
Typical resolutions are fear-based, shame-based, or doubt-based. They feed on our insecurities and tell us we are not OK in our present state. These types of resolutions extract the joy from the journey and focus heavily on the mechanics of the process.
I have been reluctant to start another year with a list of resolutions, but this year I’ve decided to make a new kind of resolution. I resolve to embrace the journey to being the best version of myself. Not necessarily a thinner version, although that may occur as I make better choices about the foods I eat and the exercise I enjoy.
I’m not even referring to a happier or more successful version of myself. I am not focusing on a specific end result, but on the blessings I can glean from the journey. I’m committed to spending this year focusing on five concepts that will help me find value in my current situation while leading me closer to being my best. Even if you hate making New Year’s resolutions, this one is worth considering.
1. Utilize what is currently available to you.
If on Monday I decide I want to go to the gym for 30 minutes every day, by Wednesday I will already have at least two excuses why I don’t have time. For me, the gym requires extra energy that I simply am not willing to use, but I’ve found I’m much more willing to take a walk around my neighborhood. Why? Because I have no excuses against something so readily available to me.
No commute time is needed. I don’t have to buy cute exercise wear to fit in with the gym crowd. I don’t have to worry about figuring out how to use the equipment.
There is more available to you than what you are utilizing. Take a look at the resources around you. Are their opportunities to be more active? Is there anything healthy in the freezer you could cook instead of having fast-food? What about chances to use a gift or talent that’s currently lying dormant? Don’t waste time thinking about what you don’t have, and use what you’ve got.
2. Find the lesson to be learned in the process.
A few years ago, I found myself having daily back and neck pain. I would wake up with headaches and knew a part of my problem was due to the amount of stress I was under. I had numerous deadlines piling up around me with no margin or downtime in my schedule. That path was leading me to burnout and exhaustion.
I learned taking time for myself is not selfish, but necessary. I was able to make course corrections to restore my health by learning the lesson in the process. Failure to learn from your journey opens the door to making the same mistakes over and over again. It keeps you from making forward progress toward something better.
Let’s not spend another year avoiding the scales for fear of what number will display, and find the lesson to be learned. Is the lesson to learn how to find comfort in God and not food? Is the lesson to learn how to trust God enough to rest? What lesson are you currently learning?
3. Own your right to say yes or no.
Are you a people-pleaser? This is a title I’ve worn for most of my adult years. I don’t like conflict. So when faced with a decision that may disappoint someone, I would rather give a reluctant yes than a heartfelt no. This situation would always lead to me feeling as if others were taking advantage of me and further complicated my life. Embracing my journey required a hard look at the reasons why I feel compelled to say yes.
The best version of me is one that is not overwhelmed with activity but overflowing with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This requires a healthy ratio of both yes and no. This also applies to other choices I make like when to say yes to dessert and when to say no. Understand the power of every yes and no, look at the effect it has on your journey, and then make a choice that takes your closer to your desired outcome. How will you use your right to say yes or no today?
4. Show kindness to those on the journey with you.
None of us are in this alone. Don’t forget to acknowledge those who are a part of your support system. This includes praising and worshiping God as well as extending kind words of gratitude to your co-workers, family and friends. In our self-focused culture, taking the time to esteem others will help you remain humble on your journey. You may not feel very accomplished or successful, but I promise you there is someone who is a few steps behind you longing to be standing in your position. Extend a hand back to help them progress forward. Look for ways to be light in darkness and love in a world filled with hate. Find friends to randomly bless on social media with an edifying post. Send a love note text to your spouse. Pack a lunch for the homeless. Surprise someone with a needed hug. Who do you know that could use a little encouragement today?
5. Don’t compare; instead, share.
Comparing journeys is a quick way to become discouraged. There will always be someone who appears to have more of everything you are seemingly missing. Resist the temptation to let another’s success drain your joy. Replace comparing with sharing. Encourage those who have reached a level of success you admire and tell them how inspiring their story has been for you. Share their story with others. Let their journey fan the flames inside you to see what is possible. Then share your story with others, including both the ups and the downs. Authentic sharing unlocks the hard places of the heart and invites in the community. Don’t underestimate the power of your story and how God can use it to empower others.
What would 2019 look like if you resolve to embrace your journey?
Ranch House Chicken Bake with Penelope Carlevato
8 Chicken Filets
4 slices bacon – cut in half
½ jar chipped beef
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
2 Tab butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 300 ºF
Butter the bottom of 9 X 13 baking dish.
Cut the chipped beef into thin slices and place on bottom of pan.
Wrap a half slice of bacon around each chicken filet.
Mix yogurt and soup together and pour over the top of the chicken.
Bake for 300ºF for 1 3/4 hours.
Sprinkle the almonds over the top of chicken and bake for 15 more minutes.
Serve with rice or roasted potatoes.
Serve with a crisp green salad and warm rolls or bread.