Ok, it’s that time. Time for looking back and figuring out how we’re going to do this thing called life – better. We’ve collectively said we’ll join a gym, eat differently, or give up a bad habit, but we all know how that’s going to end. Experts say that most New Year’s Resolutions will be abandoned by the 17th of January, “Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day.” There’s even a hashtag: #ditchyournewyearsresolutionday
I don’t buy into the argument that you shouldn’t make a New Year’s Resolution simply because you’ll most likely fail. I think resolutions are good, and self-reflection is a key element of Spiritual Growth. The impulse to make a resolution is right, but something more is needed; a way to make the resolution work! I believe it is a matter of moving those resolutions from the subjective “desire realm” into the objective “reality realm.”
I have adopted living by a Rule of Life as a means to integrate my desires into reality. The idea of a Rule of Life is a very old Christian tradition. The word RULE originally comes from the monastic tradition, and is used to outline a code of life that members of a community agree to follow. Comparing the two words might shed some light on why I think a Rule of Life is helpful.
A trait of being resolute. Finding a solution to a problem. A decision to do something or to behave in a certain manner. (Sound familiar?)
A principle or condition that customarily governs behavior. Something regarded as a normative example. Prescribed guide for conduct or action.
A rule makes something customary, a resolution is simply making a decision.
Let me give you an example so you can see how I put the principle of Rule of Life into play with something very ordinary. I have always loved my cell phones, and use them a lot. I also drop my cell phones, a lot. About a year ago, I finally purchased one of the biggest, fastest, and most powerful cell phones they make … and yes, I dropped it. I was walking to the car hurriedly and I dropped it, and then I kicked it under the car. I was so furious at myself. It cost a ton of money to fix, and it was very aggravating.
I thought “I must find a way to prevent this from ever happening again.” But, just having the desire NOT to drop my cell phone wasn’t enough. So, I made a rule for myself.
NEVER carry your cell phone in your hand.
It didn’t take me long to keep the rule, because it became part of how I operate. It’s been a long time since I’ve dropped my cell phone, because I never carry it anymore. It is either in my purse or a pocket or tucked away on my person somewhere.
Having a Rule objectifies things. You follow the Rule whether you feel like it or not. There is a Rule that I must stop at all red lights, so I do. There is a Rule that I must wait in line at the grocery store, so I do. I have made a Rule that I don’t carry my cell phone, so I don’t.
We can take the subjective desires behind our New Year’s Resolutions and incorporate them, objectively, into our Rule of Life. I’ve desired more peace in my life, so one thing I’m adding to my Rule of Life this year is to observe a 24-hour period of silence on the first Friday of each month.
Creating a rule isn’t difficult, there are many resources. I have led many people through the process. Through the years, I have designed a simple worksheet that walks you through the steps. Click here to subscribe to our email list, and I’ll send it to you.
Here’s to a new year, full of new rules to follow – objectify your desires, and you’ll have better results bringing your resolutions to life.