I’ve always been fascinated by the mental shift people make during the week in between Christmas and New Years.

For most, the holidays are a chance to slow down and enjoy the important things in life like family and friendship. Even in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the holidays our souls fight for rest and search for joy. And then, once Christmas is over, we’re back to the grind and thinking about the things we want to accomplish in the new year.

Are New Year’s Resolutions Stealing Our Joy?

While I’m all for setting goals and making resolutions, I sometimes wonder if they do more harm than good. Let me explain…

We live in a society that’s obsessed with accomplishment and image. We set goals to achieve success. We make resolutions that ultimately help us improve our image. We’re immersed in a culture that celebrates the achievers, performers, and people who have it all together.

If we’re not careful, we can quickly fall into the trap that our self-worth is based on what we do. We find our value in getting the raise or looking a certain way. Or we become discouraged and disappointed with ourselves if we don’t accomplish our goals.

All of this focus on “doing” in the new year can quickly steal the one thing we all desperately wanted a few weeks ago: deep, meaningful joy.


How Do We Find (and Keep) Joy This Year?

As I look back at last year, I realized how hard it can be to find (and keep) joy in life. The stress of work, pressure related to becoming a parent, and general craziness of life can easily create a weight that’s difficult to shake. It’s easy (at least for me) to spend each day with my head down, focusing on what I need to do in order to keep things moving.

So how do we lift up our heads to find the deep joy we’re really looking for? Here are a few ways I’m fighting to find joy this year:

  1. Slow down. It’s really hard to experience joy when we’re moving at 100 mph. For me, finding joy means slowing down enough to see the simple delights in life: the minutes I have holding my daughter before work, a conversation with an elderly person while standing in line at the grocery store.
  2. Give yourself some grace. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We’ve got to fight against the mentality that our self-worth isn’t based on what we accomplish. Authors like Brené Brown, Mike Foster, and Rebekah Lyons are invaluable mentors in the fight to find joy in who we are, rather than what we do.
  3. Regularly spend time doing things that give you life. Life is full of difficult challenges that feel like we’re walking into a headwind. But what are the things that make you feel like the wind is at your back? And how can you incorporate more of those things into your routine in 2018?

Everyone looks forward to the fresh start a new year brings. It’s a chance start over, refocus our attention on things that matter, and work towards improving our lives. But as we spend time setting goals and making resolutions, let’s not fall into the traps that steal will our joy this year.

In 10 years from now, I hope we can all look back at 2018 and smile because we remember it as the year we learned how to find and fight for the joy.

Featured Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
Additional Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash
During the holidays we slow down and enjoy the important things in life. Then comes the new year. Are New Year’s resolutions stealing our joy?