To Resolution, or Not to Resolution… To New Beginnings!

To Resolution, or Not to Resolution… To New Beginnings! December 31, 2023

To Resolution, or Not to Resolution… 

My New Year’s Resolution

It’s that time of year! The annual time of hope and disappointment all rolled into the desire to do what’s right but not follow through. None of us set out to fail, but most don’t do what it takes to plan for success. We fill our sugar and fat-addled heads after the holidays with ideas of looking like a runway model or the Rock after going to the gym for a month, not changing our diet, and lying to ourselves by saying, “I tried! I really tried!” But did we? Did we really?

Public Domain
We can start a new life any day of the year. But New Year’s Day is special. It’s the one day of the year that is a clean, clear beginning to something new.

A Little Story

I went to high school with a genuine bona fide curmudgeon. I mean it. We’ll call him “David…” David could never see the positive in anything. He was making straight “A’s” in every class, but when he didn’t make valedictorian status, he went into the same old Eeyore persona, “Well, it doesn’t matter what I do. I’ll never be the best…” David could see a silver lining to any cloud. Even when the CIA asked him to become a computer analyst, he took the job, telling me, “Don’t worry, I’ll find a way of screwing this up too.”

Fast forward many more years than I care to admit… I heard from David several years ago when we had many class reunions coming up. We chatted over the phone, and I hung up, wondering what had happened to my friend David! He was light in spirits, joking around, and almost bubbly! I talked to him again the following day and asked him, “What changed? You sound happy!”

He returned with, “I made a New Year’s Resolution.”

“Come again?” I asked, not thinking I heard him right.

“I made a New Year’s Resolution. That’s what changed everything about 15 years ago. I had made a significant innovation at work, I was making more money than I ever thought I would, I was able to retire early… and I was miserable. I was about to lose my wife; she couldn’t take my mood anymore. I’d already lost my kids; they didn’t want to be around my negative attitude anymore. And I was being forced into retirement because my division couldn’t deal with me anymore.

“So, the night after Midnight Mass that year, I decided to make a New Year’s Resolution. I told my wife and kids that they needed to help me. I wanted to become the person they’d always hoped I’d be. For the next year, they were to tell me every time I was going to my dark place. I gave them carte blanch to stop me, spin me around, and tell me what I was doing that hurt them or made them walk on eggshells around me. In a word, I made the ultimate sacrifice, my old self, to become someone they could love and care about.

“I’m here to tell you, the first three months were the roughest I’ve ever lived. It felt like every time I opened my mouth, my wife or kids were breathing down my neck! But, to their credit, they’d gently remind me I told them to ride me into submission. And I prayed. I hadn’t prayed in… well, I never had really prayed before.

“After three months, I noticed my replies weren’t as sharp anymore. I wasn’t putting down my family or my few friends anymore. I was also beginning to enjoy little things, stupid things I’d never seen before. Sunsets, comedies, mowing the grass… they all became pleasant, things I enjoyed. By the end of the year, I felt like a different person. I told jokes and laughed with my family at Christmas. I’m telling you, sacrificing for a New Year’s Resolution was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

So, Ya Wanna Make a New Year’s Resolution…

Most of us don’t need to be as drastic as David. But we do need to figure out what is important to us. What changes do we want to make? According to a recent study, only 9% feel semi-successful in keeping them. What are people trying to do? Mainly improve their physical or financial health. But another is quite awakening… increased prayer or spiritual life. People are realizing that true happiness is not always about looks or the power they wield. Inner peace, particularly in times of war and disease, is at a premium. We are just leaving a time of “lockdown.” We are entering an era of seemingly constant war with Israel, Hamas, Russia, and Ukraine.  So, how do we set our New Year’s Resolution up for success?

What New Year’s Resolutions Work the Best?

If you want to make a change, be like David. Science shows us it takes around 90 corrected repetitions to create a long-lasting change. It takes 30 times to update, 30 times to be at a “neutral” level, and 30 times to instill the new habit. Start by looking at what you would like to change. This isn’t easy, but it is necessary. The only way you can do it effectively is to find quiet, open up, and find out what needs changing. Remember David? He made his decision after coming out of Midnight Mass. Something at that Mass “clicked” in him, and he knew what to do. Search out the quiet.

Then you must shift your thought pattern from “I gotta…” to “I wanna…” We all go through life with people and things pressing in on us, telling us, “You must change so and so,” or “You have to change x, y, z before you will be a success…” How’s that worked so far? Instead, look at the final goal and work backward. In the quiet of your own time, ask God, “What do You think I need to change?” Then ask Him to help! “God, what do I need to do to make this change?” be specific. Create a plan. But be warned, sacrifices will need to be made.


What Does This Mean Spiritually?

First of all, genuinely being “spiritual” is being positive. Let me say that in a different way. You cannot be a congenitally negative person if you want to be a spiritual person. It’s impossible. Negativity is the antithesis of Who and What God is. God is Love itself. There is no room for negativity in love. Remember, the name “Devil” means “divider.” When we are at odds—with ourselves, our family, others in our community, or at work—we are not creating harmony but division.

“But my family, coworker, neighbor won’t… stop picking on me, stop being divisive, shut up! What do I do now?”

Public Domain
Everyone but a newborn has a past. The only way to grow forward is by looking at the colors of the sunset that is your own personal past.

How Do We Become More Positive?

In a word, find… “love.” Not the romantic kind or the brotherly kind we’ve all heard about. No. The sacrificial kind. When we say Jesus came down from heaven as pure “Love,” we are saying He came down not just to teach us what to do but to sacrifice Himself. Think about it. He took three years out of His life when he could have been building a business, a family, a legacy, only to teach, heal, and eventually die—as a sacrifice—for us. You find love by finding that thing or person important enough to sacrifice a part of yourself to.

This year, when contemplating whether to resolve or not to resolve… don’t go for the typical lose weight or save more money. You’ve already tried that. Why not dare to be different? Get quiet. It can be sitting in a chair with music in the background, walking, or cleaning. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are alone with your thoughts and can open up to listen to what God thinks you should do. What He thinks needs to change. I’ll give you a hint: it may be something you never expected, but you’ll know it’s right when it crosses your mind. So, decide whether to make a Resolution or not to make a Resolution… It is your question to answer.

About Ben Bongers KM
Ben Bongers was an international operatic tenor and practicing sommelier for 30 years based in San Francisco, CA, and Europe. He has written monthly articles for trade magazines in wine and singing over a long and lustrous career. After becoming a semi-full-time caretaker for his parents, he earned an MA in Gerontology (the study of aging and care) and was asked to publish in an eldercare textbook in 2020. He has written several books, all published by EnRoute Books and Media. His first novel, THE SAINT NICHOLAS SOCIETY, has won many awards, and his other two, TRUE LOVE—12 Christmas Stories My True Love Gave to Me, and THE FARMER, THE MINER, THE ARTISAN (a children’s book) are both up for writing awards. Ben is a Knight in the Order of Malta and helped start an overnight homeless shelter at his San Francisco, CA parish. Today, he is a Permanent Diaconate Candidate in Kansas City, MO. You can read more about the author here.

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