And just like that, 2019 is over and 2020 is upon us. We’re still recovering from the post-Christmas festivities fatigue as we look towards not just another year, but a whole new decade. I find it so interesting to see the plethora of new years’ resolutions that appear time and time again – ones that I also attempt to create and stick to. Of the percentage that pledge to learn a new language, run an iron-man challenge or travel the world, only 3% manage to keep going throughout the year. More depressing still, by the time the frost has fallen in February and Valentine’s Day is approaching, 80% of our resolutions have failed already.
On to the next
I find myself asking why these good-intentioned resolutions seem to falter and fail year upon year. Perhaps there is an element of over-optimism and a lack of awareness for our goal setting, but I think it suggests far more about our Western culture. You see, our culture loves the hustle. We look forward far more than we look back, as our self-improvement seems boundless and instantly attainable. Our culture is driven by the quick and easy, empowered by technology and smartphones that are always within our reach. The media taps into this mindset, as a clever marketing strategy that promises you a ‘flatter stomach with these five easy steps’ or the business you’ve always dreamed of while saving enough for a second house on the beach.
We’re great at starting something new and aiming to achieve, but not so good at slowing down and appreciating the here and now. It is actually a Biblical premise to pause and reflect. In the Old Testament, Jewish holidays were set aside as moments to remember and celebrate the journey of their faith. Hence the continued Sabbath day today. Yet it seems to now be a lost art in the twenty-first century.
In for the long-run
I love setting goals. And for the most part, I love achieving them too. But what if we shifted our perspective away from merely ‘doing’ to ‘becoming’ – the art of formations and rhythms. For instance, running a marathon is an admirable goal. But if your goal was instead to become a runner rather than a finisher, your training programme would look a whole lot different and it is probable that any progress made will be stronger and more long-lasting. It is the daily practices and rituals that define us more than the milestone moments. Who you will become in two years time is far more about the vision and routines you have now, than a checklist of accomplishments.
To that end, instead of writing out a long bucket list for 2020 that I may or may not achieve, I want to focus on reflecting on 2019 – whether it feels like a triumph or a tragedy and to properly reflect on what I’ve learned, how I’ve grown and how I intend for my 2020 to actualise. Who knows, I may become a proficient scuba diver before the year is out (an unaccomplished 2019 goal). But chances are with a stronger vision and rhythms, I’ll have a more sustainable and life-giving change than a list of resolutions. How could you start to live out a vision of a more just world in 2020?