new year's resolutions (aka breathe deep. aim true.)

we’re headed into week number three of a new year. if you’re human, this likely means that you’ve been hearing, thinking, or fretting about new year’s resolutions. yours, your office mate’s, or your mother’s. those made with well intentioned planning and those chosen out of obligation to lose weight/exercise more/eat more healthy/eat less carbs/take greater control/let things go/tidy things up/make more messes...you get the drift.

over the week that wished 2014 farewell and 2015 good morning i was volunteering at a national young adult leadership conference. one of my tasks was to bring a 15 minute talk in one of the large general sessions. this, for me, was a challenge. give me an hour to tell you how gifted you are and how to discern what you are called to do and i’d be fine. to do that well in 15 minutes, however, felt impossible. at breakfast on the morning of the talk, a dear soul named amy, handed me a patch that said, “breathe deep, aim true.” amy is wise and her gift enabled me to let go of the driving need to hit the bullseye that morning. it’s message freed me to simply do my best, to aim at the target that i had agreed to. rarely can i do that when the anxiety of meeting a goal causes me to hold my breath, clench my teeth, and muscle into whatever task i’ve set for myself.  

to truly make a healthy resolution one must be purposeful and determined about a behavior, thought, or feeling to be cultivated, deepened, or extinguished. resolution making at its best is about careful evaluation regarding something to be altered and discerning choices about the best way to go about that. a hastily declared intention made at 11:50 on new years eve doesn’t count. neither does a commitment made out of guilt or shame or peer pressure unless it is canoodled on and considered and weighed and owned. to work toward achieving a resolution one must embrace struggle inside and out. to be resolute means to be admirably purposeful and determined. it does not mean to be perfect.

for change to take root, for habits to be broken and norms to be set, realistic and accessible plans must be made. contingencies put in place. grace stationed at the ready and plenty of kleenex and baby wipes for taking care of the tears and sweat involved in purposeful and determined living. change requires breathing deep and aiming true over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. expecting to hit a bullseye when you haven’t yet managed to hit the target is unrealistic at best and punitive at worst. don’t give up. recognize your progress. empathize with the part of you that thought/hoped/knew this would be easy and embrace the struggle that is change. aim, then breathe, then aim again. notice where your effort takes you and what you might alter to get ever closer to the center...the goal. tension and pressure and self talk that shames you will not get you there. instead, breathe deep and aim true. breathe deep and aim true. breathe deep. aim true. breathe deep. aim true. breathe deep. aim true.

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