Why That Broken New Year’s Resolution Is A Gift

As the last holiday decorations find their place in storage, one remains out: the completed puzzle on our kitchen table.

It started as a gift from my husband 7 years ago. At that time, I had an infant and two preschoolers, and he gave me the equivalent of mommy-porn: two pillar candles, a 2000-piece puzzle, a cute coffee mug, and a note that said “Have fun. I’ll take care of the kids today.”

Yes, that was my actual human husband who really did that.

Every year since, I’ve gotten a new, more challenging puzzle. This year, the whole family was in on it because, for the first time ever, all the kids are old enough to play some role in our tradition—whether it’s my 5-year-old, sorting pieces into piles of like colors, or my nearly-eight-year-old bossing us with instructions of who needs to put which piece in next. This year, it was Team Wallin versus the puzzle.

As we worked on this year’s puzzle, I started to notice how the process was a lot like working on New Year’s resolutions.

  • We want to pursue a new vision for the year, so we spread out all the pieces—all the dreams, goals, strengths, skills, and resources—on the table, and form a rough plan for piecing together the picture.
  • We start with something we know—maybe it’s putting all the like-colored pieces together, or maybe collecting all the edges, to form the vision’s frame.
  • We grab a piece and try to find some other piece to which it connects—some other thing we’ve done in the past maybe, that’s worked before, and that we hope will help make sense of this next piece.
  • We can’t find where the piece in our hand fits, and we try space after space, twisting and adjusting the piece in our hands until we either get fed up or get distracted and do something else for a while.
  • We put one piece in the puzzle, only to find it doesn’t fit the one before. . . that the former was not truly a good fit. And off we go, back to the drawing board with that first piece again.

And on and on we go. Piecing the picture together.

Until we get frustrated by a “piece,” or we get distracted by real life needs, and suddenly the vision isn’t quite as clear and compelling. And we get to work getting on our own case for losing focus, lacking resolve, or dropping the ball.

What if our broken New Year’s resolutions are as important as the ones we keep? {Tweet this}

What if what we could look at what we don’t do, and solve the puzzle by asking a few good questions?

Some questions to unwrap the gift in broken New Year’s resolutions:

  • Why didn’t my resolution work the way I hoped?
  • What about it was nebulous, unrealistic. . . or plain old not applicable to me?
  • What did I not have that I needed to make it work?
  • What did I do instead? What drew me to that other behavior or set of choices?
  • Is anything good about what I chose instead? If so, how could I weave that in to a new resolution or goal this week, month or year?
  • What resources will I need to pursue what is important to me? Who or what will I need to accomplish that dream?
  • What would help me get clearer about my dreams so I can make clear, reachable steps toward them?

These questions are just a start. The beginnings of picking up the pieces that we may be tempted to look at in that mess on the table and get discouraged when they don’t form that picture quick enough. But everything worth doing starts somewhere. So what if we stopped worrying about the resolutions we’ve broken already, and chose to use those misplaced pieces as the gifts they truly are?

Have you broken a resolution yet this week? (You’re not alone!) Which question above might help you get up, dust off, and get moving again toward those dreams of yours?

– Laurie

Linking up today with the beautiful dreamers at GodSizedDreams.com.


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  1. says

    What a great way to look at it! I don’t set them b/c I think, “Aww, what good will it do?” But I like your view of the puzzle!!

    • says

      Thanks, Christine! I was thinking of you last night as I prayed (and freaked out a little) about my book launch this next two months. I realized I totally chickened out on the assignment for this post—saying out loud what the dream is—and I will remedy that in tomorrow’s post! I may need a GSDT sister to hold me to that. . .

  2. Angie Ryg says

    “…everything worth doing starts somewhere. So what if we stopped worrying about the resolutions we’ve broken already, and chose to use those misplaced pieces as the gifts they truly are?”

    Yes! This! A thousand thank yous for reminding me that even the broken ones can be a gift. Your words are refreshing and beautiful!

    So looking forward to meeting one day in real life! for now…{virtual hugs}

  3. Valerie Sisco says

    I love this! The pieces of the puzzle that make up our lives — I’m always trying to see how they fit and what they mean — but sometimes we just have to trust God and in trusting him then we can understand how the pieces fit together — thank you for sharing your heart!

  4. says

    YES! I can get so discouraged when I don’t follow through that I forget to look at the lessons they can teach me!! Thanks for the reminder to see the gifts in each one!