By Laura Simon

I don’t think I’ve ever made a real New Year’s resolution.

I’ve made a lot of joking resolutions. And I’ve even made up a few phony resolutions when pressed by friends and students. But I’ve never sat down on New Year’s Day and made a decision that changed my life.

It’s not that I don’t think profound life-change can happen, because I do. I’ll happily offer you a dozen examples from my own life. And I’m definitely in favor of taking the time to set goals. It’s just that all meaningful change comes as a result of movement in my heart, and I don’t think you get to choose the moments where your heart is ready.

I’m bothered by the way New Year’s Resolutions feel like punishment. According to my Instagram feed, everyone plans to punish their bodies with MORE exercise, LESS food, or a diet that feels like an accountant’s nightmare. It’s all or nothing in 2019, because if you fall off the horse for even a second, you lose. Instead of putting donuts in their proper place, we have to vow that we’ll never eat them again. And instead of prioritized exercise we enjoy, we have to commit to an hour of misery every day because someone swears that’s the only way to lose weight.

And while I’m at it, why do 90% of our resolutions revolve around our bodies? Not how healthy we are, but how thin we are. My 8-year-old has made several comments about his weight in the past year. He’s actually worried because he thinks he’s too skinny, but seriously, he’s 8. Our eight-year-olds should not spend their days worrying in front of the mirror. Our kids are watching us. They see that our yearly resolutions revolve around weight, and they figure out that it must matter quite a lot. The way I see it, we’re setting our children up for the same misery we experience, and they’re starting earlier.

I want my kids to create good habits, and I want them to make good decisions, but that isn’t limited to the gym. I want them to pay attention to the way they think, and I want them to be aware of how their thoughts affect them. I want them to work on their character, to figure out why they struggle to control their tempers and then work on the root cause. I want them to realize that some habits bring joy and peace into their lives, and I want them to intentionally cultivate those habits. I want them to be healthy…physically and emotionally. I know that, in order for them to do that, I have to model it first.

That’s why, when everyone around me seems to be choosing resolutions, I’m going to sit this one out. I made a decision a few months ago to work on changing some destructive thought patterns and really learning to forgive. This New Year’s Day, I’m going to keep working on that. Maybe when February rolls around, life will reveal a new focus. I just know that, for me, life is too short to chase after a six-pack when I don’t really need one.

I hope 2019 brings you peace and joy, and I hope your resolutions put you on the path to those things. If not, feel free to join me in the anti-resolution camp. It’s a surprisingly peaceful place to be.

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