The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle may be the father of the New Year’s resolution. Legend has it that he made a resolution to become more virtuous and then kept a daily journal to track his progress.
The legend doesn’t say if he reached his goal, but we do know that it is difficult for most of us to keep our resolutions. One study found that while about 40% of people make New Year’s resolutions, only about 8% of people are successful in achieving their goals.
I tend to make quarterly goals rather than big annual goals on New Year’s Day. Whether you set goals annually, quarterly, or just occasionally, there are some advantages to making resolutions, especially for catechumenate leaders and teams.
- Spiritual growth: Like Aristotle, setting resolutions that focus on virtues or spiritual practices can help us grow in our faith and relationship with God.
- Increased focus: With social media, Netflix, and just life, it is easy to get distracted from the important stuff. Pope Francis said we have to focus: “To get diverted by many secondary or superfluous things does not help; what helps is to focus on the fundamental reality, which is the encounter with Christ…” (October 14, 2013).
- Accountability: By sharing your resolutions with your team, you can create a sense of accountability and support to help you stay on track. This can be especially helpful if you are working towards a goal that requires a significant amount of effort or discipline.
However, there are also disadvantages to making resolutions. I have experienced all of these when I’ve tried to set and stick to my goals.
- Failing to keep resolutions: As we said, it can be difficult to stick to resolutions, especially if they are unrealistic or not well-planned. When I don’t meet my goals, I can wind up feeling discouraged and start thinking I’m a failure. That’s not good from my spiritual growth.
- Focusing too much!: While focus is important, the goal is not the goal. Our ultimate goal should be to grow closer to God and to serve others. If my resolutions become too self-focused, they may not be in line with making God the primary focus of my life.
- Losing sight of God’s will: This is similar to the previous disadvantage. While it is important to set goals and work towards them, it is also important to remember that God’s will is ultimately what is most important. I have lost track of the number of times I set out on one path, and the Holy Spirit intervened and put me on a totally new and unexpected path. We have to always remain open to the movement of God’s Spirit.
At the end of this year, we may be receiving the new translation of the Rite (Order) of Christian Initiation of Adults. With that in mind, you and your team may want to make some resolutions to help you and your parish prepare for that.
Some resolutions for this year
At the end of this year, we may be receiving the new translation of the Rite (Order) of Christian Initiation of Adults. With that in mind, you and your team may want to make some resolutions to help you and your parish prepare for that. Here are some suggestions.
- Rediscover the church’s amazing vision for creating a catechumenal culture
- Watch this video either on your own or together as a team.
- Remove “RCIA” and “OCIA” from your vocabulary and from all parish communications (bulletin, website, social media, agenda items)
- Read this article to discover 75 better ways to talk about the initiation process
- Prepare parishioners to become more involved in the lives of the seekers
- This article includes a checklist for whole-parish formation
- Renew your own conversion
- To lead the seekers to deeper conversion, we have to first of all renew our own conversion. Read more here
- Move to a year-round process
- This is the year to get started! Take your first step by reading this article.
Past years’ resolutions
If you want even more ideas to inspire your goal setting this coming year, take a look at some of our past suggestions:
- 13 New Year’s resolutions for RCIA leaders and teams
- Five small RCIA upgrades that will have huge impact
- Plan for an audaciously better RCIA…and change the universe
- The best time to start
What resolutions have you been pondering for the new year? How can you make them happen without getting too bogged down along the way? Share your thoughts in the comments below.