New Year’s resolutions are notorious for fizzling out like exploded fireworks. But the 2017 goals we set stand a good chance of becoming reality if we work together to achieve them — encouraging, supporting, and holding each other accountable. Too often, we think of goals solely in terms of individual pursuits. But change doesn’t happen in isolation. Whenever we change our lives, we do so in the context of the relationships we have with others day by day. We affect each other as we interact, so we might as well do so with good purposes in mind.
I just spent New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in Boston, Massachusetts, where a tradition began in 1976 that has expanded throughout the world since then: First Night celebrations. These are New Year’s festivities that include everyone, offering all sorts of creative events in a schedule that aims to appeal to the greatest diversity of people. It’s not just a dinner and dance with drinks, which usually only appeals to a certain group: couples who have disposable income and like to celebrate with alcohol. At First Night, anyone can find something appealing to do among the free or low-cost activities that are alcohol-free. All ages — from babies to seniors — enjoyed the First Night Boston events we attended: a skating show, concerts, an ice sculpture exhibit, and fireworks.
First Night celebrations emphasize the fact that we’re all entering the New Year together and encourage us to do so in a spirit of unity. That same spirit can help us achieve our New Year’s resolution goals now that the party is over and the hard work has to begin in order to make real progress.
What goals are you working to achieve this year? Maybe you’ve made one of the most popular resolutions, such as losing weight, gaining better relationships, spending less money, or spending more time helping others. Maybe your goals are less common, but no less important.
I don’t make formal New Year’s resolutions anymore. Instead, I simply carry over my goals from the previous year and keep praying for God’s guidance from day to day. Some of the goals I’m working on for 2017 include expanding my career and getting more organized at home. I can’t accomplish those goals alone; I need help from God and other people who care about me. The gratitude I feel for help from caring friends lights the fire of motivation in me to help them achieve their own goals for this year.
It’s the same for all of us. As the Bible puts it in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”
Working together, we can achieve much more in 2017 than we can apart!