Why wait for a new year to try to be better?

by Jordan Green

We’re a few days into 2022, and I haven’t set a New Year’s resolution yet. Nor do I intend to. For centuries, people around the world have said they’re going to start the next year with some goal to better themselves.

Lose weight.

Develop a positive attitude.

Save more money.

Spend more time with family members and friends.

These are just a few. All are good goals, but most folks give up on these by Valentine’s Day. Their New Year’s resolutions last a few weeks and fizzle out. New Year’s resolutions have a big problem that seems to doom them from the beginning. We often make resolutions while we have a heightened level of excitement that comes from the advent of a new season – not the immediate necessity of making a serious change in life.

Some of us lose that new-age excitement as soon as Jan. 2; life usually goes on as it has without much noticeable difference. Once we lose that fleeting burst of energy, so goes our desire to keep up the resolution that accompanied it. In other words, when we make resolutions, we say we’re going to change something in our lives because we’re turning to a new page on the calendar – not because we have some pressing issue we must deal with.

Rather than deciding to set one goal at the beginning of the year, why don’t we decide to better ourselves throughout the year as needed – to fix problems in our lives today instead of putting them off? Think of it this way: If you broke your arm in June, would you wait until January to get a cast on it?

A few days ago, I was visiting with someone at a local business. I asked the lady if she had set a resolution for 2022, and she said she hadn’t. Her wise words have been living rent-free in my mind ever since. Her reply to my question was something to this effect: “I don’t set New Year’s resolutions because I choose to work on myself all year long, whenever I need to.” Now there’s someone who is going to be successful in 2022.

She’s viewing her personal growth outside the confines of time. Whenever she falls short of whatever standards she’s set for herself, she immediately starts working to get better. She’s not waiting months and months to make a big change. I’d wager she believes in the idea of sanctification: aiming each day to get a little better than she was the day before. I also believe she’s working on more than one area of her life.

While some resolutions are built around a singular issue – improving one’s health, making one’s attitude more positive or setting aside more time to do good deeds unto others – she’s probably trying to do accomplish all of these goals all year long.

Before you doubt yourself, let me tell you: Yes, you can do all of these at once. It’s not “multi-tasking.” We start by evaluating ourselves on a daily basis.

One of my greatest mentors asks himself this question at the end of every day: “How’d I do today?” And almost always, he said he answers it this way: “Maybe not too good.” He may be a little hard on himself. I think he’s an incredible human being.

But by answering this way, he’s not necessarily beating himself up; he’s humbling himself. And if we ever want to become better people, we have to let go of our pride and realize we can all be better – no matter what. Once we accept that we’ve got room for improvement, we can seek advice from trusted friends and loved ones to see what we ought to do. From there, we try to put sound advice into practice. It’s easier said than done, of course, but worth saying again until we get it down.

I don’t have any statistics to back up what I’m penning here. Nor do I have an elaborate title, a large bank account or even as much life experience as some of you who are reading this column. My advice is free, and you’ll get what you pay for.

But I will say this: I’m setting no overarching resolution for 2022.

The next time I goof up – whether I let an unkind word slip or realize I should have done more to help someone out – I’m going to make up my mind, then and there, to be better tomorrow. In defense of New Year’s resolutions, they do get one thing right: They remind us that we have a whole bunch of tomorrows – and a whole bunch of days to try to get better.

Will you join me on this journey?