So this will be a short post (see! It can be done), but in light of JANUARY FIRST, I’ve been thinking about the new year and what’s ahead and the idea of making “New Year’s Resolutions.”
I loved two recent but fairly dissimilar posts I read on this topic (and you should read them, too!). Addie Zierman writes wonderfully and beautifully about how and why she makes resolutions each year – how they represent “a praise, a prayer, a confession, a cry of hope” – in her post In Defense of New Year’s Resolutions. Meanwhile, Glennon Doyle Melton preaches “I don’t want to be a BETTER ME in 2016. Screw that. I don’t want to chase after some imaginary more fabulous version of myself. I AM what the people I love need.” in her post Best New Year’s Ever.
Growing up, I nearly always made New Year’s resolutions. Depending on my age, they generally focused around being nicer to my sister, how many A’s I’d make in school, saying thank-you more often to my parents, eating better, exercising better, praying more, memorizing Scripture, cooking more – and on and on. They generally lasted – like most resolutions, as far as I can tell – sometime between twenty-four hours and twenty-four days. So it goes.
Then I got married, and one day another married couple (who had been married nearly five whole years by that point) told us about The F’s.
Once a year, they talk about their short- and long-term goals for The F’s: Family, Faith, Friends, Finances, Fitness, and Fun.
I love lists, categories, reflection questions, talking about the past, planning for the future, AND alliteration. Win.
Starting the first New Year’s of the first year of our marriage, my husband and I completed our first set of F’s. (We also added one of our own: “Focation” – goals for our career or vocation, but, you know, the F Factor.) Each year, we individually make time to think about and write down our F’s for the coming year and then discuss them with each other (usually it’s at least mid-January before we discuss). We have also adopted the practice of reading through the previous year’s F’s together, after we’ve already written and shared those for the year ahead.
To me, goals seem different than resolutions. Goals are meant to motivate; they are “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result” (according to beloved Google). Resolutions, alternatively, are “a firm decision to do or not to do something” – they seem inherently stricter and less flexible. They seem to embody less idealism, less dreaming.
Goals are desired results – but we all know that desired results don’t always happen. We leave the house twenty minutes later than planned. The split pea soup tastes like soap. Our aunt doesn’t love her birthday gift. We don’t leave the office by 6pm. And it’s okay (note to self) when these things don’t happen. Grace, people.
Our F’s are a way for us to assess where we are, revisit our accomplishments and setbacks, and remind ourselves of what we really want in the most important areas of our lives – in our areas of treasure, if you will.
Upon our second year of F’s, we realized that by December 31st we hardly remembered – let alone aspired towards – the F’s from the previous year. Since then, we’ve instituted a mid-year check-in around July. There are sometimes a few categories where we feel rebuked (I thought I was going to run four times a week? Let’s try once a week until December), and so we adjust the less-successful F’s for the remainder of the year. We also actually check off (and sometimes list details and dates, if applicable) the ones that we’ve actually achieved.
And it’s been great for us. I look forward to it each year – a dedicated time to check in with myself (really two times!) and also with Harrison – a time for us to discuss dreams and ideas and our reality. A time to assess where we are and where we want to be.
You don’t have to be married to do The F’s. You don’t have to share them with your best friend. They can be something just for you. So might you want to join us, this year? What are your 2016 F’s?