| Amanda Thrasher |

Will 2016 finally be the year we lose weight, get fit, pray or meditate more, spend more time with family, and better manage our finances? 

Skeptics answer with a resounding "no," many choosing to forego making any New Year's resolutions altogether. The more years we have not lived up to our high expectations for ourselves, the more sure we are the entire idea of New Year's resolution-making is a hoax. 

For those of us who harshly critique ourselves when we "fail" and expect nothing less than an externally imposed measure of "success," resolutions at the New Year can do more damage to our sense of self than good. They often encourage us to strive for an unhealthy perfectionism instead of a healthy self-acceptance. As we inevitably fail to reach such perfection, we may begin to harden our hearts to the hope of any lasting personal growth and change.

Despite such negative realities, I am not convinced we should relinquish the idea of the New Year's resolution altogether. It is rooted in an innate human drive to become our best selves and to reach our full potential - a drive that ultimately makes the world a better place. I am hopeful of the possibility that the energy within the ritual's foundation can be harbored for our service rather than our detriment. 

For this to happen, we must move beyond the typical resolutions of losing weight, getting fit, and managing debt, which are merely indications of our deeper needs and desires. We must instead reflect on our deepest needs, motivations, desires, hopes, and dreams. It is in discovering the most authentic parts of ourselves that we begin a process of lasting growth and change. 

May this year's resolution ritual be different for us. Let us reflect on the joys and sorrows of the past year, and on our hopes for the future. Let us ask ourselves who we want to be, what values we possess, what virtues we wish to cultivate. Let us heed the words of St. Teresa of Avila: "You can either keep digging the channel or find the actual spring and let it just flow toward you, in you, and from you."