Forgiveness and New Year’s Resolutions

As we stand on a precipice of a New Year, it’s a moment to reflect on the past, plan for the future, and also to enjoy the present.

I like the idea of New Year’s resolutions, because they give me pause to think about how I can be a better human being. (There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m perfectly imperfect, but there is always room for improvement.) I enjoy the test of will power to break an old habit. I enjoy the thought process that brings me to cogitate on where I’m at and where I’d like to be. Living for the now is important, but so is a healthy measure of planning for the future.

Before I had children, I planned a lot more and having a five year plan was not uncommon for me. Now I subscribe more to the line I once heard that says” “Want to make God laugh; make a plan.” A good friend used to say: “A plan is a list of things to change.” So while I don’t have the long range plans I used to, I do still believe in introspection.

Goal setting has been proven to be one of the keys to success. But getting back to New Year’s, the difference is that successful people don’t wait until December 31 to set goals and they definitely don’t delay putting them into action until January first.

I decided that I’d like to curb my use of more colourful (read blue) language. I could have waited until January first to deal with this goal in earnest, but instead, on December 8th, I put it into play.

So far, there have been a few blunders, especially after I was cut off maliciously in a parking lot, not to mention when I dropped a chunk of wood on my foot

I could have stopped my no-swearing rule right then, once I had “failed,” but I realized that even the best baseball players only hit three out of every ten pitches, so a little stick-to-itiveness was in order.

Goal setting has to come with contingency plans, and also with persistence, and most importantly, forgiveness.

This last one is no small point. In fact, the older I get, the more I am realizing that forgiveness and gratitude are the keys to happiness.

It’s okay to screw up. So you swore a blue streak when you realized that you had picked up everything for Christmas except tape and now all the stores are closed. So you ate four more of those Ghirardelli peppermint bark chocolates after you said you wouldn’t eat anymore. So you didn’t go to the gym everyday this week. That’s okay! What matters now is how you recover.

Don’t just take your resolution and throw it in the trash. Forgive yourself instead and do better next time.

Brooding over your failure and using it as an excuse to toss your resolution permanently is too easy. Take the hard path, and instead forgive yourself.

Forgiving yourself is not condoning eating those Ghirardelli chocolate squares, instead, it allows you to recognize that a mistake was made, that you won’t make it again, or at least you will do better next time. Maybe next time you’ll only eat two, or maybe you’ll think better and not bring them into the house at all.

Forgiveness releases you from self-criticism, and self loathing. Forgiveness reminds you your lack of exercising does not define you. Your actions or inactions are not you, they are simply something you did or didn’t do. You are still a good person. Forgiving yourself allows you to continue on your path to becoming even better; even if you stepped off that path into the weeds for a moment.

Forgiveness doesn’t change what happened, but it does change what can happen.

You don’t have to wait for the next new year to enact your resolution again. nor do you have to wait until next month, next week, or even tomorrow. If you forgive yourself, you can start anew, now.

I wish you luck in your resolutions, and if you don’t have a resolution, perhaps you can consider being grateful every day and being forgiving of yourself and of others, as both lead to happiness.

With that, I wish you a happy New Year!

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