The Swirl of New Year’s Resolutions

For the first time in years, I started a new journal at the beginning of January. It just kind of worked out that way but it felt a little odd literally opening a new page at the beginning of a new year.

I absolutely love January and all the hope it brings. I know I’m the same human I was on December 31 but there’s something incredibly communal about society recognizing the value of assessing hopes and dreams and new possibilities.

In the midst of reset and choosing guiding words, I’ve seen more pushback this year than in the past. There are posts and articles about just living life – that we are enough without our resolutions.

On the one hand, I completely agree. Too much emphasis on a goal or hope can be debilitating. For this reason, I use an academic calendar to plan my writing and year, so that I can have a fresh start in August when there’s less pressure. I keep my journals going until the last page or so, rather than starting fresh each year. I reevaluate my goals as we approach summer and again as we end because those offer natural points in our family’s rhythm. I like being reminded that goals can happen at any time, regardless of time or season.

Our girls went back to school on Tuesday and we’re settling back into the rhythm we had established over the fall. In the space of my two free hours, I got the chores that had been hanging over my head during the break finished. It’s amazing how productive I can be when I only have myself to buckle in and out of the car!

While we were ready for a routine, I do love extended breaks. Turning off my alarm, having coffee in my pajamas, and creating space for spontaneity are all refreshing practices. Although I do look at people who take a day of quiet to reflect on the past year and feel a twinge of envy – most of my reflection is in my head while listening to a harmonica concert or a puppet show that would rival a Dada production.

Ultimately, I’m thankful that I have a full week between turning a page on a new year, filled with possibilities and hopes and visions and actually having time to reflect and let them sink in. Because that’s how life is – it’s so rare that we get to end one thing neatly and begin a new thing fully attentive. There’s a bleeding of the edges and a natural swirl around any transition. Not being able to cleanly begin the new year is a reminder for me of how these hopes and goals will most likely play out – in a messy, swirly sort of way.

But I do pick One Word to define my year. I also pick a handful of loose goals that I have – writing daily, learning French, practicing calligraphy, working out consistently. I don’t put a timeline or number after these goals – maybe hopes or ideas would be a better term for them. But I love starting each year with these at the back of my mind.

Even though those last few days of the break weren’t as magical as I envisioned (are they ever?) and even though our transition back to school hasn’t been as sweet as I had hoped (is it ever?) I’m hoping to take that lesson with me through the year. That, as I set goals and reevaluate throughout the year, I remember to give each transition and hope time and space. There’s going to be that awkward, messy, often frustrating transition but things often shake out and I’m so thankful for those steps, goals, and dreams that were simmering through the chaos.

As we set goals and visions for the new year, I hope you find space in the natural chaos of life to lean into the transition as well.

Letting Dreams Simmer

We have friends who recently sold their house and many of their possessions to pursue a dream. They have a few short term plans, but are long-term open to wherever life leads. They are dreaming big and are taking big steps to follow that dream.

My sister-in-law is pursuing a career as a motivational speaker. She jumped in with both feet, quitting her job to pursue this dream. She is learning as she goes and is taking big steps to make this big dream a reality.

We have other friends who have had a dream of opening their home to missionaries in transition. After over fifty years of serving as missionaries themselves and encouraging others, their dream has just become a reality. They waited and saved and prayed and quietly pursued this dream.

Dreaming of more family time
Dreaming of more family time

Work has been insane lately for Frank. This is tough as we anticipate a change in our family dynamic, but also because summertime is supposed to be a quieter spell at the business and it has felt similar to a tax season schedule. (Maybe not that bad, but still long, hectic hours!) We’ve been dreaming about how we can make changes to this schedule to allow for more family time and flexibility to pursue more life-giving dreams. The reality is that we’ll have to dream and save and wait for a few years before making this change. It’s not just about us, but the employees and business model that depend on Frank’s hard work.

It’s easy for me to look at big, loud dreams and wish for immediate change and results for our own family. And, sometimes those big dreams are exactly what is needed to make a change or pursue a vision. But, I need to remember that dreams often simmer for quite some time. That as they simmer, we shift and prepare and become open to possibilities that the initial dream may not have been.

On the busy days, I want our dream to happen right now, but I’m learning to be content with letting our ideas simmer, knowing that we’re making small changes toward a bigger goal.

Are you a big dreamer or do you let ideas simmer?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing.