This is the time of year when we promise ourselves we'll exercise more, we'll lose weight, we'll eat better food, we'll be nicer people. Is it leaving the past behind or moving forward into the future? As long as we improve, I guess it doesn't matter.
Some of us dwell only on the future. When I get enough money, I'm going to buy a bigger house. When my kids are in high school, I'm going to travel more. When I (fill in the blank), I'm going to (fill in the blank). Then I'll be happy. It's a dangerous path because you can die tomorrow having done none of that and missing happiness along the way. If you struggle with this, remind yourself to live in the moment. You have a wonderful home that keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. You have young kids that are (hopefully) innocent and still love you. You have (fill in the blank) and are lucky to be alive in such a wonderful time.
Some of us dwell on our failures. It's a dangerous path because it can lead to depression, anxiety and low self esteem. We beat ourselves up for all the mistakes we made last year. We can't see a path forward to a better place, and we think we'll always be losers. We pick the data points we want to self-affirm this view despite what the reality might be. If you struggle with this like I do, I offer you this formula (which works as many times as it doesn't). 1) Allow yourself to think all those negative thoughts - trying to block them will just cause more anxiety. 2) Ask yourself what the real ramifications of your failures are. Many times, the answer is nothing - life will go on and nobody will care that you messed up. 3) Assess what you could have done differently and determine if you can repair any damage already done. 4) Move on and use whatever you learned from #3 to do it better next time.
Some of us move on from our mistakes quickly. We move right into the next adventure. We drop the failure from our mind as quickly as it happens. Sounds fun. I wish I had a little more of this in me. But it's also a dangerous path. What if we forget to pay our mortgage this month and forget promptly next month? What if we drop the new friendship at the first sign of stormy weather? If you struggle with this, remember to stop and assess what mistakes you made and what responsibility you have for the failure. There's always something to learn to make the future better.
Of course, the reality is that nobody has lived their lives 100% mistake free (or 100% full of mistakes). Failures often lead to successes. Sometimes failures allow us to cut our losses and jump off the ship we should have abandoned years before. Some of us will hold on too long, and some of us will let go too early. Godliness with contentment is great gain (I Timothy 6:6). If you learn that, you will have a wonderful experience here on earth in spite of whatever failures come your way in 2019.
In a couple weeks, statistics say we'll be back to our November selves (Fail)! I even missed my self-imposed 1 blog per month deadline before the year even got started (Fail)! Why try? We try because we're human. So keep your head held high because we will inevitably be smarter, stronger, and wiser at the end of this year. Instead of grandiose and poorly defined resolutions, I am going to pick something small and improve incrementally each month.
Yesterday, I got to play hide-and-seek with my kids. I'm a better mom for it. Win.