That feeling of angst around the holidays is a reminder of a couple of crucial truths every human being must reckon with sooner or later: we are weak in the soul and no personal goals will strengthen us there. You can lose weight and develop muscle—and let’s face it, you probably should—but looking good on the outside will not solve the problem inside. We are inherently weak—both because we are creatures (and not the omnipotent Creator) and because we are sinful (which means we are spiritually weaker than we were even designed to be).
“Finish the year strong.” The clichéd exhortation is aimed at us all—the businessman trying to meet project deadlines and annual budget expectations, the student prepping for semester finals, the average Joes and Janes navigating holiday chaos with an eye toward some vague sense of individual improvement in the coming year.
The calendar itself sets us up for failure. For instance, if it’s personal wellness you’re after, the season is situated perfectly for self-sabotage. We come out of our gluttonous Thanksgivings ready to “get our acts together” and find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of the season of cookies and candies and cakes and cocoa. We say to ourselves, “Well, I’ll start over when the New Year comes,” but we’re still in vacation mode come January 1, and the festivities the night before set back our low-calorie/low-carb visions to depressingly low levels of actuality. (“Well, okay,” we tell ourselves, “the first Monday after the start of the year . . .”)
And even if we manage to avoid the dietary pitfalls of the holidays, remaining smugly “pure” amidst all the carnal beasts around us, it’s the emotionally draining spirit of the season that gets us. There’s the round of year-end appointments and holiday parties, the comings and goings of family, the decorating and planning that begins to feel more like chores than cheer. There’s the financial burden of providing a fun holiday for the family while not blowing out the budget or diving deeper into debt.
And then there’s the general malaise that strikes so many at Christmastime and into the New Year, that nagging sense that all the revelry and sentimentality is but a poor substitute for what our hearts really need. The holidays become simultaneously festive and fearful, delicious and, honestly, kind of discouraging. Disappointing. Maybe even depressing.
While everybody else is amped to “finish the year strong,” to reboot their workout and financial and career and relationship goals for the new year, you may feel like you’re limping across the finish line. Or being dragged against your will. There’s good news for you.