Why I didn’t make any New Year’s Resolutions


There is Restlessness inside the heart of every visionary-type. At least there is in me.

Restlessness wakes up and stretches long arms, like one who overslept. She hastily tries to make sense of the day, the future plan, the next course of action. Her day is shadowed with a sense of having missed something while sleeping and of having wasted precious time. Life becomes a race to make up lost ground.

Restlessness is the opposite of contentment but it’s also the cousin of competition, and it looks a whole lot like a craving most days. More, more, more.

I’ve pushed and I’ve pulled for most of my life, breaking through glass ceilings and stomping out completed goals with the best of them.

And yet.

And yet, at the end of the day when she should be at rest, Restlessness pops open her eyes. Her feet hit the ground, and she starts making lists and making plans for more.

So, Friends, today I mull over the question – maybe with you, if you too are one who strives and plans: Will it ever be enough?

Will we ever be enough?

Because, in the aftermath of a few heavy, stressful years, I faced reality this past week: at least in part, I stress myself out. I routinely and compulsively set unachievable, stressful goals, don’t reach them, and then feel ashamed of it.

Productivity born of Restlessness never produces peace.

Because deeper still, often behind the sanitized words like “driven” and “goal-oriented” is an inclination toward shame. We tirelessly set lofty goals, fail to meet them, and then enter the shame cycle – feeling bad, then trying harder to prove more in order to feel better, but failing again, then feeling bad, around and around again. But, it’s a comfort zone for some of us. We know how to feel bad about ourselves, and it’s actually more familiar (and thus comfortable) than feeling content with ourselves and our place in life. And, we resort over and over again to trying harder and proving more in order to alleviate the shame feeling.

Perhaps it causes us to become a bit addicted to the runner’s-high-feeling of accomplishment after slashing through a to-do list. Why? Because we’ve proven to our shamed selves that we’re valuable, loveable, capable after all.

But, can we be enough without proving our productivity, our significance?

That’s my prayer. Friends, this year I didn’t set any New Year’s Resolutions. Well, I didn’t write them down anyway, which is a good first step for this recovering accomplishment-addict. I feel a little naked going into January without plans and goals to accompany me. I’m not even kidding. What I did write down is a simple prayer, one I’ve taped to my computer monitor:

Lord, order my days with grace and peace – not obligation and shame.

This year, I’m asking God to release me from the shame cycle, and I’m finally agreeing with Him that it’s detrimental, not determined, to compulsively trade peace for productivity. Maybe you’d like to join in this prayer?

After all, being released – not restless – means finding our value in nothing other than His redeeming love.

Anne Dahlhauser

Anne blogs at Front Porch, Inspired about surrendering everyday living for sacred purposes. She and her husband, Jay, are founders of a ministry called The Bridge of Storm Lake, focusing on missional living and advocacy for youth in vulnerable places of life. She holds an MA in Teaching Languages (TESOL and Spanish) and is a lover of words and the Word, culture and communication. Jay and Anne have five kids, a front door that can't stay closed, and an abundance of messy, holy chaos at their neighborhood center/home in Iowa - of all places.

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