I Don’t Resolve – I Make Plans, Based On Jewish Values

As the New Year approached, many people took out the pen and paper to note down their resolutions. Now the jokes about how quickly such resolutions fade has already begun — but still, many of us are still focusing on what we plan to improve on next year. Personally, I try not to think of it as what I am going to do better because it makes it seem as though I failed at something this year.  Rather, I try to think of it as what I am going to do differently in the new year and the best way to make sure I follow through is to make a plan — and my best-laid plans are based around Jewish values.

So here are my plans for 2017 and beyond:

  1. Call People: If you ask anybody who knows me, I am awful about calling. When it comes to picking up the phone simply to check-in on someone and tell them I am thinking about them, it rarely happens.  My heart is there, and I always feel guilty that I don’t.  Reaching back to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur I am drawing inspiration from cheshbon ha’nefesh (an accounting of the soul).  To be spiritually healthier in 2017 I need to connect with those in my life who keep me centered.  My plan: Call one person each week, on Thursday nights.
  1. Do Something Creative: This Hanukkah, I decided to make some of my gifts from scratch.  The process took days and there were a lot of cross-your-finger moments, but it was incredibly enjoyable. I forgot how fun it can be to learn new skills. Once I started taking on small projects, it made me want to tackle larger ones.  t gave me an enormous amount of pleasure to know that my gemilut hasadim (acts of lovingkindness) were not gift cards but something personal from my hands.  My plan: All year long, make birthday gifts for my family and friends.
  1. Cook: I don’t know about you, but I usually save one recipe video from Facebook per week. Do I ever cook those recipes?  I want that to change. I love having friends over, and Shabbat is the perfect time to digitally dust off those savory treats and exemplify our shared value of hachnasat orchim (welcoming guests) My plan: Cook one new meal per month, on Shabbat.
  1. Adventure: Who doesn’t love a vacation? It is the perfect time to rejuvenate the brain and soul. This is a great example of something that is easier said than done. Even if you did manage to get the time off of work, somehow that time gets filled right back up with a million other things that prevent you from re-centering yourself. Seven days may be a challenge, but, going on a day trip or a weekend getaway is infinitely more feasible.  Go somewhere you have never been before, visit a national park or presidential library, or hang out at an arcade.  Often, the best way to get a mental break is just to create literal space between where you exist day-to-day and somewhere else. This doesn’t have to be expensive or require hours of planning and down payments. Even if you only have Saturday and Sunday, we are taught that Shabbat should be a time to connect, remember, and observe; this can be done in a myriad of creative ways and can often enrich your personal interpretation of what this weekly holiday means to you.  My plan: Go on at least three adventures in the coming year.
  1. Plan for Next Year: There are so many projects in the community I want to get involved with because I feel a sense of Kol Yisrael Arvim Zah Bazeh, communal responsibility. Two years ago I took this frustration and decided that I needed to plan further out.  I determined that I didn’t volunteer enough, so I made a plan for this year to become more active with a local charity. It required making adjustments to my schedule and finances, but it was worth it and I gave myself the time I needed to plan it out. My plan: Start planning and researching now so I can become even more active in my community in 2018. 

What are you planning to do to make this year a better one – and what Jewish values might influence your plans? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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