by Laura on February 29, 2012

I had high hopes in January.

I was going to exercise four times a week, and my husband and I even made a little line graph and taped it to the wall right above the scale. It was going to be a steadily downward line, of course, with little dots and the connecting lines that were going to take us collectively 20 pounds lower on that vertical axis.

I color-coded a homeschooling schedule chart and taped it up in the kitchen. I had the appropriate almost-fun flashcard activities mixed in with the everyone-is-crying-now-grammar worksheets. And we were going to start at 8:30 sharp, with 10 minute breaks where I would play intentionally, while finishing cheerily at 2:30 after an hour of reading aloud — with hot tea and crumpets every Friday. {Okay, not the crumpets part– I do have some amount of realism in me.}

That fist week of January found my finger wagging at the kids as I laid out a color-coordinated chores chart, too, which I promptly stuck on the fridge. The chores rotated and were fair according to the kids ages, with even the four-year-old doing a little work every day with the feeding of the fish and the watering of the flowers.

I was going to get up at 5:30 every morning to pray and read. I set out to memorize the Sermon on the Mount and have the kids learn the beatitudes. I started a book which we’ve drug around the world in suitcases that everyone says is such a spiritual classic.

It was allll a glorious plan, laid out in new markers and swirly arrows, in blinking lights on the alarm clock, in neatly arranged art supplies and file folders. Creative, organized, diligent.

And now it’s the end of month two of 2012, and already our whole household has wriggled back into a mild form of chaos.  We start homeschooling according to how many cups of coffee I need in the morning, and the weight chart began gathering dust when it’s dots refused to form any line but a plateau {Okay, a slight uphill curve. Maybe, just a bit}. Chores are whatever I say they are, whenever I say to do them, and are applied to whomever happens to be standing in closest proximity.

To say that I’ve fallen off the wagon of my New Year’s Resolutions is a kind statement, since I suppose being on the wagon is logically a prerequisite to falling off of it.

And, so, here we sit– the month of February and all of my new goals are all just about over.

And I’ve done this before. I know how this tape plays out– I have a great idea, I attack it with gusto {and apparently colored markers}, I make big announcements, and I begin implementation.

And then. Well, then I get tired. And distracted. And bored. And forgetful.

And whatever pattern I was trying to break with my New Year’s Resolution suddenly becomes even more more ingrained, and I’m sitting around at the end of month two trying to remember what the colors on the chart were supposed to stand for in the first place.

Resolution-Fail, I guess you could call it.

But, here’s the thing. Sometimes New Year’s Resolutions shouldn’t have been made in the first place.  Sometimes what you thought you wanted to change you really didn’t need to. And other times, your circumstances shift and, goodness gracious, you need that third cup of coffee in the morning and that extra 30 minutes of sleep.  Sometimes, your idealism of January just needs a kick in the gut of reality from February.

But, other times, other times, your Resolution-Fail is this valid reminder of a pattern of living, of interacting, that needs attention, needs changing. Sometimes there is a hurtful pattern that digs a deeper rut with each year that goes by, and rut-removal is gritty, unglamorous inner-work that demands patience and perseverance— perhaps two qualities that didn’t even make the resolution chart in the first place.


Experiencing any Resolution-Fail yourself?  Hate New Year’s Resolutions? What are two simple things you’d like to change about yourself/your life– right now in March?

  • kendalprivette

    oh, laura. you overwhelmed ME with your resolutions and i’m thousnads of miles away! perhaps you did what i tend to do and tried to change too many things at once? i love the playing intentionally one. sounds the absolute most important. and you could do that with a cuppa joe in your hand, yeah? and….i don’t even make resolutions in january. i just try to get better at one thing school-related each year starting in august. and sometimes if the spirit leads me to improve on soemthing i do it then….

    • Laura

      Kendal, like that idea of just picking one thing . .. I think I am just a hopeless optimist with myself. ha ha. You’d think I would learn.

  • Ksstarnes

    I just love this line  “Sometimes, your idealism of January just needs a kick in the gut of reality from February.” 

    • Laura


  • Carol

    Oh I love how you share your heart.  It’s funny, when I read the part about “our whole household has wriggled back into a mild form of chaos” I thought it probably isn’t as chaotic as it felt while you were trying to implement so many new things all at once.  I’m hoping that you’re having much grace for yourself and your family as your processing the “resolution-fail” which probably wasn’t a failure at all but the beginning of a new way of thinking about how things and people are transformed.  I’m finding it’s a one day at a time process, it has to be for me.  Then, all those “one day’s” turn into 15 months of beautiful freedom.  For today, I want to love God and the people around me well, then tomorrow, I’ll strive for that same thing.   Love you friend!  Thanks for sharing your heart with all of us!!

    Ok, I’m going to post this – it’s from Carol, but it may appear to be from Steve…we’ll see I guess.

    • Laura

      Love this reminder, Carol– to just do ONE DAY WELL, loving and serving. And then to do the same tomorrow.

      Beautifully simple and true.

      Love you, friend. . . . proud of you for walking the road you have walked these last 15 months. You are amazing. . . .

  • Andrea Ward

    I wanted to manage our money better, but a few extras, like a birthday, a birthday party, and preschool tuition somehow transitioned into several nights eating out.  That all led to spending too much.  Ugh!  We are starting over again in March though.  A new month is like a new start.  

    • Lauraleighaparker

      Andrea- isn’t that the truth that we can always just “DO-OVER’ our resolutions. Just hit reboot and start new on a different month . . .   Good luck– managing money is HARD work, for sure.

  • Teri Miller

    Oh, girl, what reality.
    So many things slip.  Bright ideas, goals of good intentions, visions of betterment.
    But truly, what I’m beginning to see, this first day of March…all those small things may be geared more toward conforming myself to the world than conforming myself to the Lord.
    Because what really matters is loving my husband & children well…seeking the presence of God, even if it’s over that 3rd cup of coffee…resting in His grace, relishing His word & truth.  So many resolutions are more about my performance-oriented self-condemnation, and less about Christ-seeking priorities.  When it all comes down to it, if I had cancer-of-the-eyebrow and was gonna die in a year – What would I regret NOT doing? What would I regret DOing? 
    Ahhhh…there we go….THERE are the priorities & resolutions & intentions that really matter.

    My advice?  Not that you are asking….
    toss those charts & schedules & resolutions in the garbage.
    Start over. Simplify. Clarify. 
    Then go back with the don’t-wanna-regret-it, Christ-conforming chart. 
    I bet it will be smaller, simpler; grace & truth in life-giving-color.

    • Lauraleighparker

      Oh, Teri . . . I just love this advice. Every piece of it . . . 

  • Muchosninos2000

    enjoyed reading this.  my marvelous man reminds me that life all evens out and that relationships are just as important (if not more so) than “progress”.  feeling your pain with plans laid low, but also learning to go with the flow and enjoy the moment (even if it’s not what i had hoped for…)

    • Lauraleighparker

      YES– Relationships trump “progress”– Amen to that!

  • Kelly @ Love Well

    OH MY WORD YES. I am so guilty of this. The older I get, the more discouraging it is. I really, truly, deeply want to change. But it’s hard. So very hard. It’s like herding cats or swimming through Jell-O. 

    I was just thinking about this today, and praying that God would give me the ENERGY to change, when I realized I no longer crave McDonald’s. It’s taken a couple of years of slow, steady work replacing my diet. For a long time, I had to resist French fry cravings when I drove by. But gradually, not only my actions changed but my desires changed. So. IT CAN HAPPEN. I was encouraged to realize that. But it takes a really long time, at least for me. 

    (P.S. I’ve neglected my blog reader for months. I’ve really missed your words.) 

    • Lauraleighparker

      Kelly, this is a really good point about change–

      That it takes TIME and that it starts with ACTION which leads to new DESIRES.  

      Ahh, yes– just wish it was more instant.

      Reminds me of the title of that Peterson book, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”–  gosh, I need that. 

  • 20 Vicki

    If it makes you feel any better. I have 18 children[ 10 bio and 8 adopted ]. I have been parenting for 44 years.
    I have homeschooled for 25 years and dieting and exercising and trying to loose 10 or 20 or 30 pounds for that long. I have done the same resolution scenerio amny times and have had the same results. Three of my oldest homeschooled daughters have their master’s degrees and the rest have attended college except for two sons who did not like it. My chore chart works exactly like yours and my house is messy a lot of the time and my husband complains that he never knows who has what chore.

    • Lauraleighparker

      Vicki– Awesome!  Glad to know I am not alone . . . .  :)

      and, wow!!!  18 kids!  Amazing!

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