I always used to think that New Year’s resolutions were simple things like trying not to swear, or bringing home flowers to the wife more often, or eating cake only once a week instead of twice a week. These are all good things in and of themselves. But how close are they to our hearts? Do we really care if we fail to keep them?

As I grow older I see what New Year’s can be. It can be the chance to start again, to reassess my hopes and goals and dreams and forget all my failures (we can do this any day of the year, but New Year’s is a great and powerful place to start). These things are close to my heart. Some I like to share with everybody I meet, but some matter so much I only share them with a privileged few. Because I care how people perceive them and how people perceive my pursuit of them. I care when I fail to reach those goals and dreams.

With that in mind, I have started using New Year’s as my yard stick.

I picture my life as I want it to be. For example, I want to own my own house. I want to be debt free. I want to be able to take two vacations overseas a year. I want to love a woman with intensity and passion and have it returned. I want to have arrived in my career. I want to be doing the things God designed me to be doing and doing them well. I think about all these deep desires, how I picture them in my head and how they feel. How I would feel if these dreams were accomplished now. Then I start asking myself what I need to do to get there. What steps do I need to take to see these dreams come true?

Those are what become my New Year’s resolutions. Those steps I need to take to get to that “there place.” Oh, I know. I have to be happy here and now. Well, I am. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t learn and grow and change. That’s what life is. One long growing season. And that doesn’t mean there aren’t things I want. Everyday I add new things to my want list.

When I decide what steps (resolutions) I have to take, I write them down. I used to keep them in my head, but then I noticed how much easier it was to fail to achieve them or break them. I noticed that when I didn’t write them down, then the failing didn’t hurt as much. Keeping them in my mind made it easier to fail. I just convinced myself that it wasn’t really a New Year’s resolution. It was more like a desire, and an impossible one at that. If I kept them in my mind, my resolutions were worthless.

Writing down my goals and resolutions makes them a public commitment and I try harder to honor them, which is what I am trying to set myself up for. I am trying to succeed because I have realized that nothing hurts me worse than not achieving a dream.

That is why I am not going to write down a New Year’s resolution like try not to swear so much.

© Seth Crossman