January's for Reflecting, Not Resolving
Why I'm saving my Resolutions for February
Note to the reader: This is a repost of something I shared January of last year. As you’ll read, you’ll realize, I’m in no rush to join the rat race of churning out NEW CONTENT at the start of the year. There are about 2,000 more of you here than were here this time last year, so even though this isn’t new, it’s likely new to you. Out of everything I shared last year, this was one of the most important. I hope it’ll stick with you and we can make January Reflection a yearly ritual! I don’t know you, but I love you! Happy New Year fam!
Stay until the end….
I remember watching a post-credits movie scene for the first time. I think it was Iron Man. You know the vibe. The credits start rolling as everyone is brushing pop-corn kernels off their laps to the soundtrack of synchronized grunts from people in their 40’s (and beyond) attempting to stand. The large majority of the theater was making their way to the exit, seemingly in a rush to go somewhere.
But where? We were at the movies, and it was the last showing.
We were out.
This is where people intended to be, and the only other place to go after the movies was home. Most of the people had nowhere to be, yet they were in a rush.
It didn’t make any sense, but the collective energy was enough to pull me out of my seat towards the exit with the rest of the herd. Following the crowd felt so natural. So easy. I would’ve done it if I hadn’t heard the faint whisper of the white dude in glasses next to me.
Stay until the end…
I listened. Maybe it was because he had glasses and it was a comic book movie (and he looked like the type that would give you the backstory of the characters without taking a breath, his only pauses coming as he knuckled his glasses back up the bridge of his nose.)
There was more.
There was more. The movie wasn’t over yet. And that one scene, after an apparent conclusion, forever changed how I engaged with movies. I always stay until the end. I never form my conclusions until I see everything. Everything.
It’s been a little over a year since I made the decision to resign as a pastor after 16 years. My entire adult life (and more of my identity than I’d like to admit) was wrapped up in that job.
December felt more like a series finale than a season finale, which made me hyper-aware of everything. I didn’t want to miss anything. I wanted to spend the month living instead of planning for what was next. Using December like that changed me. Here’s the one thing that stood out.
Most people treat the month of December like movie credits.
When December 1st starts playing, everyone begins brushing the kernels of 2023 off their laps, rushing towards the year’s exit. The constant conversation is all about what’s next. No one wants to fall behind, so everyone spends their time planning.
No one stays until the end.
The more I think about it, the more it feels absurd. It feels like a movie critic, in a rush to meet a deadline, writing a think piece about a film WHILE IT’S STILL PLAYING. 2023 was still playing, and instead of living and enjoying the moments, we were pressed to turn in our Resolutions before a ball dropped in New York.
I don’t like that game.
I don’t like those rules.
I want to stay until the end.
I don’t want to mindlessly follow everyone else to an exit so premature. We’re still in winter. The grass in my backyard is still dead (granted, it’ll be dead come springtime because I don’t take care of it like I should, but it’s dead now because it’s winter). The leaves are still hiding. Animals are hibernating. Creation is recharging. Resting. Reflecting. And this January, I want to do the same.
Maybe part of the reason why so many resolutions fail by February is that they were early. Maybe the resolutions weren’t wrong; they were just underdeveloped. Maybe, they needed an extra month or two in the oven. Maybe they needed an incubator, a place where the previous year (IN ITS ENTIRETY) could be taken into account, and the New Year could be experienced (even if only briefly).
Most people live their years, 11 months at a time! I don’t want to do that.
January, at least for me, is that incubator.
So while everyone else is scrambling to get ahead of the crowd, in a rush to go nowhere in particular. I think I’m going to stay reclined in my seat this month.
I still get up at 4:30am, as I have for the past 5 years (and counting).
After drinking water to rehydrate and having a cup of coffee, I still spend the first hour reading books I’ve been meaning to get to and writing words (like the ones you’re reading). But more importantly, I’m reflecting. On a full year. On all my plans that failed and apparent failures that didn’t go as planned, that turned out to be incredible successes looking through the lenses of December 30th.
For the first time in my life, I treated a year like I treat the movies. I stayed until the end, and I think I’ll be better for it.
I got LASIK in 2020, so I no longer wear glasses, so that little piece of my credibility may be gone, but I’m inviting you to join me. If you’ve already stood up with the rest of the crowd and resolved prematurely, don’t be afraid to erase some of those resolutions (or hit the backspace or throw it in the trash).
Stay until the end…
February is as good a time to start as any.
What are some of the most helpful reflection questions you’ve been asked?