I am very excited about 2009. I usually am really stoked when the year turns over. Nothing seems as auspicious as setting a goal with a bran-spanking-new year stretching out, unblemished, before me. I never feel quite as empowered or so granted the gift of renewal as I do upon waking up on January 1.
That gift of potential change is manifest in goal-setting. I believe in New Year's resolutions. Even if I fall short of my year-long goal, those resolutions embue an otherwise cold and dreary January with optimism and hope. And sometimes I have even had the surprising joy of remembering a goal I made the year before and seeing how closely I was able to realize it. Sometimes December 31 is a time to celebrate changes that have already taken place, just as January 1 is a time to celebrate changes that may occur.
My New Years Resolutions this year are ambitious, but attainable. I want to share them here, in this pseudo-permanent and definitely public forum, to encourage myself.
1. This year I want to read the Old Testament. I've never read it cover-to-cover before and I know that it would be a valuable experience. I believe the Bible is the word of God and I think it's time that I remedied my neglect of the first half of that holy book.
2. This year I want to complete my insurance's health challenge program. They set reasonable goals (meaning an 80% instead of 100% expectation) and offer a cash reward for completing them. This month's challenge is to replace sugary snacks with fruit and vegetables 80% of the time. I'm excited about pitting myself against that beastly goal.
3. This year I want to give a harp recital. The real thrust behind this goal is to encourage myself to practice and learn new music. Performing is more the reward.
4. This year I want to implement Elder Ballard's 2006 General Conference address, "Creating a Gospel-Sharing Home" by inviting a non-member over to my house once a month. As I only know one non-member family right now, this will probably be the biggest challenge for me.
I believe in man's power to change. This is the greatest manifestation of God's gift of agency in our lives. Because we are free to choose, no one is stuck in a cycle of repeating past mistakes. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everyone can repent and start anew. Because of His eternal and infinite sacrifice, we can access divine power when we desire real change in our life.
I am grateful for Christ's Atonement, the greatest gift of Christmas and the hope for a happy new year.