Rethinking The New Year’s Resolution

Bonjour, mes amis!

At the end of my last post, I mentioned that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to post on this blog every Friday.

Clearly, that hasn’t happened. I apologize for that. I’m not very good at keeping resolutions in general. But on the upside, I don’t think I’m alone.

Making a New Year’s resolution is founded on a great idea: looking forward to the coming year, and trying to be a better, kinder, healthier, more organized person. However, we seem to have entered into a sad mindset where resolutions can only be made at the beginning of the year, and if they’re broken after two weeks, one week or even a few days, it’s over. We’ve failed. We’ll try again next year.

When did we start giving up on ourselves so quickly? When did we get the idea that we only had one shot to get our New Year’s resolution right, and not a whole 12 months of trial and error?

Making big life changes is difficult. There’s a period of adjustment, when we’re still figuring things out. We forget, we get lazy, we say we’ll start over tomorrow. And we see this as complete, total, unredeemable failure.

The more I thought about my own New Year’s resolutions and my successful and not-so-successful attempts at fulfilling them, the more I realized that I was putting the focus on the wrong thing. These resolutions or tasks I wanted to complete in 2016 were merely stepping stones that directed me to an area of my life that I wanted to improve upon.

For example, I am the worst at responding to messages: text, Facebook, email, snail mail, passenger pigeon, you name it. I read the message, mentally process the information, and then never respond. My thoughtlessness has received several well-meaning complaints from friends and family, and this is not something I want to carry into my professional life. Therefore, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to respond to every short message within 8 hours, and every longer message within 24 hours. Side note: I avoid answering personal messages at work, but any work-related message deserves an immediate response.

This month, I’ve had some success with this resolution, but many, many failures. My ultimate goal is not to get better at responding to messages, because I honestly find writing messages really stressful and time-consuming, like every sentence that I send out into the universe has to be perfect. Crazy writer, I know. However, I deeply value my relationships with others, personal and professional, so if answering people’s messages in a timely manner makes them feel valued, respected and loved, it’s so worth the minor stress and little time taken. My ultimate goal with this resolution is to be a more trustworthy and reliable person, and to mend any rifts in my relationships that I’ve caused by not responding to messages. 

If you’ve been struggling to keep your New Year’s resolution(s), whatever it is, don’t give up on yourself. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what your ultimate goal is. Maybe you want to lose weight because you know it will avoid future health problems. Maybe you want to spend more time in prayer because you want to become a more peaceful and holy person. Don’t look at your resolution as a task to be accomplished, but as a small step toward becoming the best version of yourself.

So what’s my ultimate goal with posting on this blog every week? To sharpen my skills as a writer, and most of all, to connect with you — my wonderfully patient and supportive readers. Thank you for following me on this journey, even when I fall short. In the words of JJ Heller, “Let’s fight a good fight, train our eyes to find the light, and make this year the best one yet … starting right here, Happy New Year!

À la prochaine!

– Vicky

Question of the Week: Share your New Year’s resolutions with me in the comments! Let’s hold each other accountable. 🙂

 

 

 

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The Purpose of Unexpected Joy

Bonne année, mes amis! Happy 2016!

Despite growing up 25 miles away from New York City, I never spent New Year’s Eve in Times Square, much to the chagrin of my European friends. I never felt a desire to stand in the cold for 10 hours in the middle of a drunken mob, waiting for an event that was over in a blink. This year, being a part-time New Yorker changed that.

One of my friends from my NYC Catholic book club was the organizer of an annual New Year’s Eve party at St. Malachy’s Church, one block away from Times Square. I expected a fun night with a few good friends. Little did I know that God wanted to give me an NYC afternoon adventure with a new friend from out of town, a sparkly disco ball mask to wear, Mass in a beautiful church, drinks and dancing, and the crown jewel of the evening: getting to pass through the police barricade around Times Square and watch the ball drop in person with a million rejoicing people and probably a billion pieces of confetti.

I never asked for it, but God decided to give His little girl one last gift to celebrate the end of the year.

Today, I kept asking myself why I of all people received such unexpected joy at the end of the year. A few weeks ago, my book club discussed the purpose and beauty of suffering, how it can shape us into better people and teach us to rely more heavily on God, among other things. After this discussion, I expected God would bring some suffering in my life in order to put these ideas into practice. But the end of my year was so joyful that I got a little confused. 

Of course, this is only the first day of 2016. A lot of suffering can happen in the near future. But is there a purpose to joy? Are we supposed to just appreciate joy, or is there a responsibility that comes with joy?

The comparison between my average expectations for the evening and what I experienced reminded me of a quote by C.S. Lewis from his book The Weight of Glory, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about … when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

We often don’t expect to find joy because we don’t think we deserve it. We’re not miserable, so we don’t need anything to bring us joy. We’re just moving through life trying to get it all done, and that’s enough for us. Besides, why should we be so happy when so many people in the world are suffering? But those who have experienced deep joy know that it’s impossible to hide. It shows in your face and your smile and your eyes, and other people can see it.

That’s the great responsibility that comes with the great power of joy: to let our joy spill over into the lives of others, to use our light to cast out, even partially, someone else’s darkness. One of my coworkers told me recently, “Your smile is the first thing I see when I walk into the office, and I know it’s going to be a good day.” In 2016, I hope to continue to bring joy to others, no matter what suffering I may have to face.

God doesn’t just want us to feel “fine,” he wants to give us joy! Jesus says in Matthew 7:11, “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give to those who ask him.” So as we move into 2016, I challenge you to expect joy. Expect love. Expect positivity. Expect laughter. Expect friendship. And when you or someone you know is in a tough situation, use your joy to make a difference.

Thank you to all who have followed this blog for the past three years. I wouldn’t be here without you. Here’s to making 2016 the best year yet!

À bientôt!

– Vicky

Question of the Week: One of my New Year’s resolutions is to post on this blog every Friday. Share your resolutions in the comments below!