Resolutions made easy

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Not many people would pick January as their favorite month of the year, but I kind of like it. It’s nice and quiet after the hectic holiday season. There’s hardly any yard work to do and few extra school and work activities going on. Chilly January evenings are great for lounging by the fireplace and reading a good book.

January also marks the beginning of the new year, when I always feel a wave of enthusiasm. I’m invigorated by visions of new activities to try, fresh opportunities to pursue and unfinished projects to complete. It’s really annoying. If it weren’t for the temporary feelings of optimism that come over me, January would be perfect.

Normally I’m a skeptical type of guy who prefers to expect the worst. Or at least the not-so-great. That way when something good happens, it can come as a pleasant surprise. But in spite of myself, I find a new year to be an inspiring time to rethink my priorities. I really will organize the garage this year, or spend an hour a day doing devotions or write that book I’ve been thinking about.

This leads to something I do every year that I always say I’m not going to do every year. Writing New Year’s resolutions. In theory I’m against it. Things worth doing should be done all year round, not just at certain motivational junctures. My friend the fitness trainer says that January always fills his club with new clients who want to get in shape after the holiday eating frenzy. Then about April the clientele falls off. That bothers my friend, who says people should maintain their health and fitness all the time rather than for a couple of months after Christmas.

He’s right, of course. Yet with New Year’s resolutions I do exactly what would bug my friend. I make them in an inspirational moment and then heartlessly abandon them a few months later.

Something I’ve heard is that people should try to be realistic when setting goals for the future. They shouldn’t try to overreach, which inevitably leads to failure. That sounds sensible. So this year I’m going to make some resolutions I know I can keep.

First, I resolve to not become a victim of “TiVo guilt.” This is a troubling syndrome I read about that’s sweeping the nation. For those of you who aren’t into the latest gadgets, TiVo is a brand of digital video recorder that allows television viewers to save an abundance of television shows for watching later. But a lot of viewers are filling up their TiVos and not getting a chance to watch the shows. Which makes them feel guilty. Oh, the horror!

I’m pretty sure avoiding TiVo guilt is a vow I can keep. Especially since I don’t own a TiVo. And the only TV show I record on my ancient VCR is American Idol. (It’s for my wife and daughter! Really!)

Second, I resolve to not worry about where LeBron James will end up in 2010. One of the biggest basketball stars and product endorsers on the planet, James is committed to play for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers through next season. But there’s a huge controversy going on about whether James will leave Cleveland in 2010 to seek a bigger stage playing for the New York Knicks. Cleveland fans are already crying “unfair” while Knicks fans are gloating like it’s a done deal.

When I read the constant headlines about this I can’t help thinking, “Aren’t there things going on in the world that might be a teeny bit more worrisome?” About LeBron James’ future, then, I vow to care less. If that’s even possible.

Third, I resolve not to take naps at work. This one is tricky due to the universal temptation to doze at one’s desk after lunch. Since my office has open workstations where everyone can see me, however, napping isn’t a good idea.

But you never know. I read about a study concluding that taking naps at work is more effective for staying alert than drinking coffee. Maybe I should suggest to my boss that we switch out our desk chairs with comfy recliners so we can increase our alertness. Yeah, I’m sure that will go over well. Coffee, anyone?

Finally, I resolve to keep my priorities straight. “Aha,” you might be thinking, “there is a resolution you cannot keep. Because we humans are far from perfect, we can’t possibly keep our priorities straight all the time.”

Exactly. It’s by not being able to keep my priorities straight that I keep my priorities straight. When I get overwhelmed or go off track or mess something up, I go to God for help. And shouldn’t God always be our number one priority? There you go. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Phil. 4:6 NLT).

For this year or any new year, that about covers it.

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