The Pressure of “New Year, New Me”
Does that phrase sound familiar? Maybe you’ve seen the lists of things you can do to “improve” yourself, your home, your job, your finances and so on. Maybe you have been thinking about some of these things. I often find myself thinking about changes or daily rhythms I would like to update or do differently.
How did January 1st and the “New Year” become such a significant moment to implement change? According to the History Channel, the history of the New Years Resolution dates back some 4000 years ago to the ancient Babylonians, it actually occurred in mid-March when the crops were planted, and involved promises made to their gods as part of a religious celebration. It wasn’t until around 45 B.C. when Julius Caesar implemented a calendar based on a solar year, and the Julian Calendar moved the New Year from March 1 to January 1. January had special meaning to the Romans, named for Janus “the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches,” the Romans would offer sacrifices to the god and make promises of “good conduct” for the coming year. Nowadays the practice is mostly secular and mostly doomed to failure. Some researchers suggests that only 9% of Americans that make resolutions complete them, with 23% quitting by the end of the first week and 43% giving up by the end of January! This information is not meant to discourage those that are trying to make some type of change – but it is meant to give some perspective.
It is really hard NOT to think about these things at New Years because it seems to blow up our social media feeds, plus there are commercials, texts, and radio discussions about what you can do to change or improve your life. Some of my fellow contributors are putting together some great words of the year resources as well. However, all of these initiatives can also feel a bit overwhelming to some. Perhaps this is not the year or season to “change.” (Please know, if this is your moment for change – I am excited for you, praying for you & cheering you on!)
This year, I will not be making any “New Year’s Resolutions” this year, because I don’t feel that this is the right time for me to put any additional pressure on myself to change, especially when I just wrapped up a year that was nothing short of chaos with all the changes we had going on!
Change is Constant
Everything is always changing; time marches on and life keeps happening – regardless of how prepared we feel or whether we are ready for it. Over the summer, I had taken the kids on a trip to Dallas to visit their grandparents and I couldn’t help but notice how much the city had changed and grown in the 20 years since I had moved away. Some parts of the city were suddenly unrecognizable to me. Of course, this didn’t happen overnight, but it felt all-of-a-sudden. As I was having that thought, I felt like the Lord was telling me that while change is constant in the world around us, the most important change was the one He was making - in me.
What do I mean by “Not-So-New Me?” I simply mean that just because the calendar rolled to 2024, I won’t be implementing any New Year’s Resolution-type changes. It does not mean I won’t change, but I am not putting pressure on myself to change just because it’s the thing to do (which could be a large part of why so many New Year’s Resolutions don’t work out). If you are doing because the world is saying “it’s time to change,” it might be a difficult road. If you are doing it because you’ve been thinking about it for a while and you feel convicted that now is your moment – then I’m praying you are a part of the 9%. Regardless, I hope that everyone has grace for themselves in whatever season they are in right now.
So how will I be changing in 2024? I’m going to circle back to what I felt like the Lord was telling me over the summer – that the most important change in my life is the one He was making IN ME.
This year, that will look like gratitude. Gratitude is my “word of the year.” I am being called to be thankful in ALL THINGS, in everyday life, even when things feel hard or impossible – not just for the good things or the easy things in my life. The more I practice gratitude in my life this year, I am certain that my attitude will change, and I will change too.