Lose weight, exercise regularly, read more books, quit smoking, drink less, blah, blah blah. Ever notice how New Year’s resolutions sound the same every year?
I should know, because these are the kind of New Year’s resolutions I’ve made over the years.
Now there’s nothing wrong with setting goals that will lead to positive changes in our lives, but I’ve noticed how self-centered my resolutions tended to be. I resolve mostly to do things that will enrich MY life, firm up MY finances, improve MY health and promote MY happiness.
Narcissistic resolutions are perfect for people of our me-first age, but methinks not so much for followers of the one who counseled, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
Or, at least, not if those self-centered resolutions are the ONLY ones I make. This year I’m going to pair every resolution that improves MY life with a resolution that improves someone else’s life.
Will you join me? Here are ten suggestions:
1) I resolve to give beyond a tithe to charity. I will aim for 11 percent of my gross income. (If you don’t tithe, then why not work up to it by resolving to give a fixed percentage this year and adding to it next year?)
2) I resolve to spend at least an hour a week serving those who are in need. This could be volunteering at a social service ministry, visiting someone who is lonely, helping a friend in a jam.
3) I resolve to do my best to greet everyone with a smile and genuine warmth. (This means you, cranky cashier at the supermarket!)
4) I resolve to be more patient with people who drive more slowly and carefully than I. (This is a big one for me. I’m not Mr. Road Rage, but I am Mr. Road Rushed!)
5) I resolve to spend more time with my family, including chats on the telephone and via Skype with faraway relatives. (For instance, a sister in Tennessee and a brother in Arizona!)
6) I resolve to share more of my feelings with others.
7) I resolve to listen more and talk less. I hope I listen at least as much as I talk. (Zip it, Rob!)
8) I resolve to not only attend church, but volunteer to help at some task: Lector, usher, acolyte, Sunday school leader, committee member — there are all sorts of jobs that need doing.
9) I will de-clutter my house and give stuff I don’t need to a charity thrift store. (Books, anyone?)
10) As I resolve to eat less food, I will give regularly — say, one bag of groceries a week– to the local food bank, or make a donation to ELCA World Hunger or similar charity.
What do you think? I’m definitely going to resolve to do some of these, but probably not all of them. Which ones work for you?
Happy New Year! May your resolutions for 2014 improve not only your life, but also those around you.
(Photo by Erephas, used by Creative Commons license. Thanks!)