New Year’s resolutions can be daunting. To try to change or add even a single new behavior for a whole year can feel so big, so unmanageable. Maybe the problem is the word “Year.” Instead, what about New Day’s resolutions?
On December 31, instead of writing a list of resolutions for the entire year, start simple. Take a blank calendar for the month of January or even just for the first week. On the evening of December 31, decide what one thing you resolve to do on January 1—just for that one day, just for 24 hours. For example “I will not gossip.” Write the sentence in the box. After you write the words, draw or doodle around them. This gives the eye, the hand, and the mind time to let the idea sink in. As you draw, listen to what the resolution might say to you. Strategize or plan how to make this happen. Pray for the wisdom and strength to follow through. Then sleep on it.
On the night of January 1, reflect on how well you lived out your resolution. If you were successful, be grateful for achieving the 24-hour goal. If not, be compassionate. Apply the message of Ephesians 4:32 to yourself: “Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” (The Message) Now offer yourself another opportunity. Write a resolution for January 2 on your calendar. Maybe it will be the same resolution as the day before. Maybe it will be a different one. Or maybe it will combine the first resolution with a new one. Use a calendar template until the new behavior becomes part of your daily practice–even if it takes a whole year.
Many spiritual traditions emphasize the partnership between contemplation and action: writing, doodling, and praying the night before are the contemplation; living out the resolution is the action.