By: Dr. Lucie Pentz
I’m not sure about you, but I have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. It feels so wonderful to make them, setting our hopes high, experiencing that warm feeling of anticipation and success. But then it usually it takes a few days, or maybe even a few hours, and there we are back to eating sugar, wasting time on social media and losing our patience. One of the fourth grade students gave a great definition of New Year’s resolution when she said, “It’s a promise you make to yourself.” Perhaps that is the reason why it feels devastating when we break our New Year’s resolutions because it feels like breaking a promise that we truly meant and were determined to fulfill, but for some reason, we did not.
For the last several years, I have personally shifted my thinking and, instead of coming up with New Year’s resolutions, I have replaced them with a “guiding word.” I decided that it was more important to focus on a theme, some guiding principle, rather than a situation-specific behavioral prescription or modification. Instead of curbing consumption in all different spheres, I have focused on the “enoughness” in my life. Instead of controlling anxious thoughts and increasing the number of positive thoughts, I have embraced the word “joy” to encourage me on gloomy mornings. Over the years my guiding words have correlated with the longings and the stressors of life, reflected in choices such as “Let God, let go” or “joy,” “enough,” etc.“ It seemed that guiding words were broader and more encompassing, like focusing on climate changes as opposed to specific weather patterns.
So why a guiding word? A guiding word gives us a quick reminder that over time becomes an instinctual reaction. When our immediate impulse is to go to a place of negativity or cynicism, our guiding word redirects us to a new path of living and thinking. It presents us with the opportunity to reorient, readjust our thinking, and get back on the right path. It helps us to remember who we are, and who we are not. Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23). Guarding our heart includes carefully sifting through our thoughts and being the gatekeepers of our inner lives and, most importantly, feeding our minds the guiding thoughts that will spur us towards right living. …”Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8). We cannot underestimate the power and energy of our thoughts.
So here are a few questions to help you craft a guiding word/phrase.
— What do I want in 2018?
— What are the things you are missing in your life and you desperately need or want?
— What is your greatest current fear?
— Where do you see yourself in 2018? How are you going to journey there?
Wishing all of you happy 2018! I’d love to hear your guiding words and how they came to you.