These are phrases I’ve always heard in the last few weeks of December. We buy new notebooks, new pens; we have that taste (and smell) of “everything new again” and with that we also think about the accomplishments we will achieve in the new year, wishing to improve what was bad and fix what was terrible!
We wish for a better life, it’s true. We all have the desire to be happy, to have peace, health and money in our pockets. These are the desires most heard after “God bless you”!
Some of the projects that you have already thought about are: getting closer to God, growing in the life of prayer, studying more, learning a language, starting the gymn, going for walks, losing 10 kilos, doing special courses to improve your position at work, having more time with your family, serving in the Church, donating your hair to the Institute of Cancer, among others.
And what happens that after a few months we become frustrated with several of our projects. Why do we give up so easily? Why, after a short time, do we relativize our projects and say “Eh, this really is very difficult, maybe next year”?
Now, let’s talk a little bit about some reasons that lead us to failure:
1 – We think unrealistically – we set unattainable targets in our PLPs¹.
Whether due to lack of time, the complexity of the goal or the impossibility of doing so many things in the midst of everyday tasks. Do you know the consequence of this? It is obvious that we will not be able to accomplish the impossible. The road is already paved: frustration and failure.
2 – We do not have a strong determination – Weak will.
We look at our general aims or the goals of our friends or any website (except comshalom.org); we admire and make them our projects. They didn’t come from us, however, from our life and spiritual review, but from the outside, where the neighbor’s grass is always greener! This path is already destined: frustration and failure.
3 – We pursue projects that are not God’s will – only our own will.
When we say that something is not of God’s will fall to the ground, in fact, it does! When we choose projects that are not God’s will, we focus on ourselves and we cannot see the good of others or what God envisions for our lives. We become short-sighted and try in vain to achieve what will not fulfill us. And what happens? Frustration and failure.
How can we get out of this trap? How can we make this year a different one, in which we will actually see how much we have grown and achieved our goals?
1 – Divide those unattainable goals into several smaller pieces.
There’s no point in setting an objective like this: “This year, I’m going to make an effort to go to Mass every day, or my name is not… Handsome Tapioca!” How about, instead, “In the month of January, I intend to go to Mass daily and at the end of each week, I’ll write down the reasons I couldn’t do better in February”? The plan here is reversed. Instead of being frustrated, I will reap the fruits of small efforts; I will feel fulfilled and motivated to commit myself even more in the future. Realization and motivation!
2 – Honesty in choosing goals that come from within us.
It needs to be from the inside out! If it doesn’t come from inside us, it will be too artificial. Inside us we find the strength, the sense, the strength of heart to keep us firm in the stipulated goal. Realization and motivation!
3 – Put everything before God and, in prayer, contemplate His plans for us.
In this way, it is irresistible not to fight for our objectives. God wants my plans to happen! He is the first one who wants to see us grow! He loves our plans, which are also His. Realization and motivation!
4- Renounce the plans that will certainly take us away from God or that simply, no matter how beautiful they may be, are not of His will. “What good is it… to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mk 8:36). There is no point in choosing what will not bring us in union with God. This requires a life of authentic prayer and the search for people who are trustworthy, more mature in faith and who will help us to discern where our plans come from. Realization and motivation!
Still, in order to have a life plan, we need a model. And who will be our model? Those who, although successful, only think of themselves? The actors, actresses of the great old media who, in spite of beautiful bodies, support mentalities against the gospel? On the contrary, Jesus and Mary must be our first models. Right after them the saints whose lives, so close to our reality, teach us to follow Christ. And, of course, those brothers and sisters at our side, who witness to the Gospel and live heroic virtues in everyday life, are also models for us.
We must also remember that life is not rigid, but dynamic. Our life projects are not absolute truth and can be adapted according to reality. Let us be open, then, to changes. Throughout all of this, we must establish periods of evaluation for each project, reviewing them personally and also with a more experienced person, always looking for ways to successfully continue the journey, and if necessary, start over.
This way, finally, we will contemplate a really new year, where the old things will have passed and we will have been born again in Christ. Happy New Year!
¹ Personal Life Plan
Translation: Jhoanna Climacosa