Sunday, January 3, 2016


As 2015 came to a close this past week, many people made New Year’s resolutions for 2016. This concept of promising to do better in the future engages many people, even though statistics show that most do not follow through on their good intentions. In a Forbes article entitled “Just 8% of People Achieve Their New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s How They Do It,” writer Dan Diamond quotes statistics from a University of Scranton study that shows more than 40% of Americans make resolutions, but only 8% are successful in keeping them. [To read this article, please click here.]

According to Time, the “Top 10 Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions” include the following: lose weight and get fit, quit smoking, learn something new, eat healthier and diet, get out of debt and save money, spend more time with family, travel to new places, be less stressed, volunteer, and drink less. While all of these seem to be noble goals, apparently sticking with them is no easy task for most people.

From Dan Diamond’s perspective, the problem with New Year’s resolutions is not with the people who make them and fail to keep them but with how they make the resolutions. He offers four tips to making resolutions that can be followed more successfully. The first, “Keep It Simple,” recommends making fewer smaller goals that can be reasonably achieved. His second suggestion, “Make It Tangible,” involves setting goals that are specific and measurable. For example, instead of promising to eat healthier, a person could vow not to eat “potato chips, fries, or ice cream for six weeks.” For the third tip, he offers “Make It Obvious,” which means sharing resolutions with family and friends and perhaps even social media to hold oneself accountable for the planned self-improvements. Finally, he recommends “Keep Believing You Can Do It,” emphasizing the importance of positive thinking and the need to believe in the ability to achieve the goals.

With all of this information in mind, I came up with three resolutions for 2016, despite my inner protests that I have enough to do with just being an autism mom and that I don’t need to put any more on an already full plate of obligations. However, I also know that I’m still a work in progress and can always make improvements. Of course, I avoided all of the top ten list of failed resolutions, some of which don’t apply to me in the first place. Instead, I focused on the scripture from I Corinthians 13:13: “Three things will last forever––faith, hope, and love––“ to make meaningful resolutions for myself.

First, for faith, I will read my daily devotionals on a daily basis. That seems pretty simple and pretty obvious, but often the busyness of many days causes me to forget or put off reading what I need to know on a daily basis. Catching up on weekends by reading six or seven devotionals just doesn’t seem to have the same impact, and even worse is when I get so far behind in my reading that I am quickly scanning a month’s worth of devotionals more with the motivation of just getting done than with actually getting something out of the reading. Since putting my devotional book on the nightstand beside my bed with the intention of reading before I go to sleep hasn’t worked, I will read my devotionals in the morning, my best time of day mentally, before I check the more trivial information of weather and Facebook updates on my iPad Mini. Interestingly, today’s devotional scripture from Psalm 5:3 confirmed the wisdom of this decision for me: “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”

Next for hope, I will certainly continue to hope that Alex will continue to get better. In the meantime, as I try to wait patiently, I will keep busy with things I need to do so that I don’t obsess with worry about him. As an organized person, I rely upon the lists I make of things to do. Recently, I’ve started writing my to-do lists on my Notes app on my iPad Mini, and I feel satisfaction as I erase each item after I complete each task. However, I also felt frustration whenever I couldn’t complete all the items on my list, and those left behind seemed to taunt me. This week, I decided that instead of to-do lists, I would create “ta-da” lists in which I write down each task I accomplished, celebrating what I did instead of bemoaning what I didn’t get done. For example, the other day I was delighted to complete a list that included doing four loads of laundry, taking care of Alex’s needs (including helping him order books from Amazon with gift cards he’d received for Christmas), cooking a nice meal, and getting my schoolwork done, to name just a few items from my “ta-da” list. By this simple shift in methods, I feel more hopeful each day about what I can accomplish instead of feeling overwhelmed by all I think I should be doing.

Finally, for love—“the greatest of these”––I resolve to make time every day for the people I love and for doing things I love, both of which bring me joy. Yesterday, Ed, Alex, and I went to a university basketball game, and this time spent as a family outing—something we haven’t always been able to do––was precious to us. Watching Alex enjoy himself, even his delight at watching a silly commercial on the scoreboard in which donuts jump into a box, makes Ed and me thankful and happy. (I think those donuts jumping into my mouth would make me pretty happy, too, to be honest.)

In an article in Oprah’s O Magazine entitled “The Very Best Resolution You Can Make This Year,” writer Brene’ Brown emphasizes the need for adults to take time off and play. [To read this article, please click here.] She explains that “time spent without purpose,” as described by researcher Stuart Brown, MD, is crucial to human development, specifically creativity and innovation. Off the top of my head, I thought of simple things I enjoy but don’t always make time to do, including the following: shopping for yarn, watching Partridge Family videos on You Tube, and playing the piano. Sadly, Alex hates shopping with me when I look at yarn; in fact, he would rather do anything than go to Michael’s with me, so this would be a solitary play activity for me. However, he does like watching You Tube with me, and he has expanded his eclectic tastes in music from his father’s beloved Bob Dylan videos to my love of 70’s and 80’s pop music. Soon, I’m sure, he’ll be singing along with David Cassidy and the ever-catchy “I Think I Love You.” Finally, I need to get over my lack of confidence in my limited piano playing skills and let my fingers hit the wrong keys even when I’m not home alone. Fortunately, my guys are patient with my errant notes and even seem to like to listen to me play the piano. If not, they can always hang out in the man cave in the basement and turn up the volume on the television. I may even learn to play “I Think I Love You.”

Armed with my daily daily devotionals, my ta-da lists, and time for fun, 2016 could be my best year yet. Certainly, striving for more faith, hope, and love seems like a worthy goal—resolutions definitely worth keeping!

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:19

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