I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to holidays past, I never used to put much significance on the New Year.
No one in my family really celebrated the holiday much when I was a kid. The older I got, the more the holiday just seemed like an excuse for my more worldly acquaintances to party harder.
These days, though, I’m beginning to appreciate the deeper significance that the start of a new year can hold for us.
While we could argue that the passing of time and its division into years is just a matter of planets revolving around one another and calendar arrangement, we as humans are used to measurable patterns like this.
Just like God gives us physical signs to confer grace in the sacraments, He also gives us the patterns of time as a lens through which we can look at our lives.
New Year’s and the tradition of making resolutions doesn’t have be silly, frivolous, or pointless at all.
Instead, the holiday can actually be a perfect opportunity to take a look at ways in which we’re struggling and come up with ideas to make things better from here on out.
Here are three suggestions to get you thinking of resolutions you can make if you want this next year to be a better one.
1. Choose one problem area to tackle
Many people take the opportunity of the new year to resolve to get healthy – that’s why we’re bombarded with commercials for weight-loss programs and gym memberships around now.
But more important than settling on merely trying to tackle a physical characteristic of ourselves that seems to be holding us back, it’s a much better idea to look for something specific in our lives that causes us discontent.
For some of us, this really might mean the choice to start living a healthier lifestyle. But if that’s the case for you, don’t merely resolve to drop a few inches so you might be able to attract a potential mate more easily. Instead, focus on the ability to feel more confident and energized.
For others, this problem area might take the form of bad habits that are robbing us of peace. Maybe you have an addiction you need to conquer – not necessarily an obvious one like substance abuse or pornography. Even addictions to things like social media can cause us to feel less than fulfilled.
Try taking an honest look at your life. Focus on times and patterns when you feel desolate or discontent. Then, see if you can identify a problem area that is at least partially the cause of that trouble.
If you can identify a problem area, take the opportunity to root it out and replace it with something better.
2. Go outside your comfort zone
A lot of us can also fall into patterns that, while not necessarily troublesome in and of themselves, aren’t helping us get where we’d like.
Especially during our single years, it can be easy to fall into comfortable patterns when it comes to socializing with others and hoping that special someone comes along.
If this is you, resolve to do more than hope. It might be time to put yourself out there more strongly.
Resolve to accept next time a friend offers to set you up with someone. It might be terrible, the very definition of uncomfortable. But you’ll never know unless you try, and the more practice you get at trying, the easier it will be to open up to unexpected opportunities when they come along.
Of if not in something so dating-specific as that (we don’t all have master-match-making friends, after all!), resolve to get out of your typical social bubble in some other way.
Maybe find a class to take, a group to join, or just to accept more offers from friends to hang out.
If your dating and social life this past year has felt bleak at all, the best way to start improving that is to change things up, even when it seems inconvenient or scary.
3. Deepen your prayer life
Rooting out bad habits and taking worthwhile risks are great, but they can only get you so far if the most important aspect of your life is weak or lacking.
The best way to make sure your next year is more fulfilling than your last is to grow closer to the ultimate source of our fulfillment.
The more we grow in our relationship with God, the easier it often becomes to hear and see his direction for our lives, sometimes even concerning things like the future spouse he has planned for us.
It’s easy to let our prayer life fall by the wayside in the busyness of life. Resolve this year to set aside intentional time each day to pray and grow closer to God.
Even if increasing your prayer life doesn’t immediately give you a bunch of warm fuzzies, God will not be outdone in generosity.
Be confident that, ultimately, if you grow deeper in your spiritual life, He will lead you to a deeper fulfillment.