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New Year's Aspirations?

So, it's that time again, when we're suddenly accountable for those New Year's resolutions that seemed SO reasonable, so do-able, just yesterday or the day before. Fortunately for all, TechCrunch offers apps to help us keep what Time described (for 2012!) as the top 10 broken New Year's resolutions. Now that there are apps, there's nothing stopping me!This year, I'm framing my New Year's goals as aspirations, not resolutions. Here's why: there's something minimalist about language of resolutions, as though succeeding in keeping our resolutions bring us up to some minimal standard of adequacy. Then, if we lapse, well, we now have a grim new little burden of failure to carry around. I suspect this might be one reason folks tend to shy away from the whole idea of deliberate seasonal behavior modification. (I admit that the peer pressure associated with the seasonal nature of this might also play a part in some folks' resistance...) Plus, language of "resolutions" makes the start of the New Year feel much more like Lent than it should. There's wisdom in our tradition's beginning the Church year with the edgy hopefulness of Advent, then careening into the joy of Christmas, then having a little breathing space of Ordinary time before even thinking about our shortcomings. As the liturgical year shows us, it's bad practice to lead with shortcomings. So instead of resolutions, let's try aspirations. Instead of shortcomings, what are some opportunities for little steps that will make us a little bit better in some way--a bit more aware, a bit healthier. Not "by next year I will be devastatingly fit," but "I'll switch from cream to milk in my coffee," or some such smaller aspiration. Succeeding in an aspiration, even a small aspiration, doesn't raise us up to adequacy like succeeding in a resolution does, but is cause for a pat on the back, a gold star that brings a little joy. Failing in an aspiration has a different feel than failing in a resolution, too--it's a lost hope, but doesn't make us lost causes. And hope does spring eternal--a lapse here or there isn't the end of the story.Any aspirations for the New Year?

About the Author

Lisa Fullam is professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is the author of The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic (Edwin Mellen Press).



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I am going to learn how to use my camera. It has all kinds of nifty settings, I have no idea what any of them are for. I would also like to take the NYC CERT training (community emergency response team), it would be good to be helpful in times of disaster.

Complete a few more rounds of Rushfit and get to mastery level of at least half the exercises in Convict Conditioning.X country ski at least 2 - 3 times a week (if we get some more snow!!)Meditate at least a half hour a day and practice the examen before bed nightly.Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.Complete some academic goals.Live slower.Embrace primal living as a lifestyle (becoming a disciple of Mark Sisson (see Mark's Daily Apple ;P) and have already been eating paleo for the last six months (Christmas season excluded a. It LOL)

What is eating paleo? It sounds toxic.

I wonder professor Fullam whether you challenge our aspirations enough so that we may aspire to a more excellent way? Certainly controlling our weight is admirable but how about those "Behind the Beautiful Forevers" who hardly have the option to gain weight as they endure searing sufferings as they wither away in an unforgiving place. And what kind of an obligation do we have to confront the innumerable Indian priests who minister among us while the women in their country suffer ignominiously at the hands of their male countrymen! Surely, the bar should be raised on our aspirations and solutions must be offered in ethics as much as explanations? Or am I taking New Years "aspirations" too serously?

I aspire to:1. Brush up my Spanish enough to read Unamuno's "Abel Sanchez."2. Quit being a big baby long enough to have one dental procedure completed within the next six months.3. Not pick fights on Sundays.4. Knit at least 12 toys that go in the Methodist Church Ladies' care packages for kids who are taken into emergency foster care.5. Force myself to go to at least one work-related social event and stay for at least one hour before December.

I am thinking seriously of losing a few pounds, but after reading Study Suggests Lower Mortality Risk for People Deemed to Be Overweight in today's New York Times, I am also thinking seriously of gaining a few pounds.

David N. --Does this mean that the Age of Austerity is over? Have those small-souled Gnostics been routed? Are those self-flaggelating Calvinists finally to be turned out? It's OK to enjoy Big Macs?

Saw this about the Paleo diet ;) ...

I went to Istanbul last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I have resolved that this year I will learn enough Turkish to order a meal and make it through passport control so I can go back again next year and not feel like such a foreigner.

Lisa, what a nice post to start off the new year. Fine point about the rhythm of the liturgical year, and I couldn't agree more about small, achievable improvements.

Exercise more and that means walking. We started yesterday with a two mile walk along the Pacific shore.. beautiful and sunny.

I'm not sure if those slides from Time, linked to in the original post, were supposed to be tongue-in-cheek or were just really shallow, but most of the topics listed - diet, exercise, volunteering, learning something new, spending more time with the family - really are amenable to modest behavioral changes that can be inserted into an existing daily schedule without shaking things up too much.Our family's goal, now that payroll taxes have gone back up again, is to find a few things to eliminate from the monthly budget. It probably should be easier than it feels right now.

"payroll taxes have gone back up again' That was a one year temp stimulus and we elderly and those making $450K don't pay 2% on most of it anyway. (-:... happy new year anyway..

Ed, happy new year to you, too. (And everyone else, too!)

CrystalI would LOVE to respond but I am going to follow the "rules" around thread relevance. I assure the last thing Lisa would like to do is moderate yet another diet is almost as bad as bringing up the SSPX or the liturgy.I am a very tolerant guy but just pray you are not a vegan....If anyone should be found here to be vegan, let them be an anthema!

This might help you to attain your aspirations. It's a choose-a-saint app that lets you choose a patron saint randomly - or else go on to choose another one randomly if the first one won't help :-) There are precious few saints for single women who aren't nuns, I'll tell you.

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