Routine, Resolutions, & Resolve

I’m back! Well, I say that, but I have been sitting here at the computer for some time now without any sense of direction for this post. I’m only here, frankly, because I set a schedule for writing here. This past holiday season reminded me that I need the structure of routine. It provides an anchor for my creativity. Without it, I’m not only unproductive—I end up getting myself into pointless mischief. The way I see it, if I’m going to indulge in mischief, the least I can do is make it productive.

 

The first thing that leaps to mind at the beginning of a new year is, of course, resolutions. I suppose it would be more accurate to say that it is forced to mind. At no other time of year is the average consumer so heavily pressured into investing in weight loss and exercise options—and oftentimes alternatives too, most of them improbable in the extreme. I begin to wonder if there are any other New Year’s resolutions.

 

Me, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore. I don’t believe in them. They’re contrary to human nature, mere artificial constructs with no lasting roots in life. Just look at the January weight-loss frenzy: when I belonged to a gym, I hated going during January. I went on a regular schedule year-round, and yet suddenly for about a month I ended up shouldered aside by temporary athletes who didn’t know a tricep from a glute. Fortunately, the rush always ends by mid-February. I suspect it isn’t conscious realism that drives them out, but good old-fashioned habit. Change doesn’t happen because of an arbitrary catalyst like a date on the calendar. In terms of weight loss and health, genuine change tends to happen only after traumas like heart attacks and cancer scares.

 

Also, I believe that New Year’s resolutions are nearly always aimed in the wrong direction. How many of those who resolve to lose weight really ought to be forming a resolution to form a more realistic self-image, or to cherish the body as God’s creation and treat it accordingly? If you resolve to change the symptoms without dealing with the underlying disease, your resolution is destined to fail.

 

That’s why I make daily, not yearly, resolutions. It’s good to have a long-term goal, but every long-term goal consists in several short-term resolutions built up over time. One doesn’t live in the long-term. Every day holds its own challenges. Some challenges recur on enough of a regular basis that they need a special level of resolve for a person to face them. For instance, I resolve to get up every morning and go to work without complaint. Given the stresses of my job and my intense dislike of it, that takes a good deal more endurance than a resolution to balance daily exercise with a healthy diet. It is one of the small steps toward my biggest resolution: to live daily in glad obedience to my Lord, so that I may please him more and more each day. This isn’t something that can be decided on a whim. It takes resolve, which builds habits, which create a structure on which I can build a life of godly grace, beauty, and service.

 

I think that resolution is challenging enough to be going on with, don’t you?

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hmsnow1

Fantasy novelist and essayist H.M. Snow, author of the Last Book of the Kings series and the novella Faerie Tales for Travelers.

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