Every year I go kicking and screaming into the New Year. Not because I'm against change. I simply cannot remember to change the year on my checks until May. I not only have to know how much money is in my checking account, but also remember what year to put on the check I'm writing today.
By the time I remember the year, I have forgotten to make deposits into my checking account. I need a reality check, which hopefully will not bounce as high as my checkbook.
That's not the only reason I hesitate going into a new year. The biggest reason has to do with the mistakes I made during the old year. Looking back over the old year, I worry that my blunders were not as bad as they could have been.
For many people, the New Year offers the opportunity to make new mistakes curiously similar to the mistakes made during the old year. If I have any resolution for the New Year, it would be to perfect the mistakes I've already made. I don't see any sense in making new mistakes when I can easily requisition the old ones for duty during the New Year.
And what's wrong with my old mistakes? The only thing I can think of is that I did not work hard enough to make the most of them. It's one thing to make a mistake, but it's quite another thing to perfect the art of making a mistake so that you don't have to repeat it ever again. Too many amateurs have given mistake-making a bad name.
Most of my mistakes have been so poorly done that in the New Year I have to re-do those mistakes. And, quite frankly, I'm tired of it all. I'm anxious to move on to new areas of mistake making. I'm convinced there are mistakes to make I have not even dreamed of at this point in my life.
My resolution for the New Year is to make sure any and all mistakes I make will be as thorough as possible. I refuse to leave any mistake before its time. But when its time comes, I want to make sure it is accomplished as perfectly as possible.
If I'm any judge of character, the majority of people this coming New Year will not make any new mistakes, they will dust off old ones and redate them for the current year. What a waste of time, in my opinion.
Allow me to offer some help that will guide this pursuit the coming New Year.
- Look back over the old year and make a list of all of the mistakes you have made. If you are a husband, solicit help from your wife who will be able to remember all of those mistakes you have forgotten. (Not to mention one or two you didn't do.)
- Go over each mistake on your list and determine if it needs repeating for the New Year. As I say, there is no sense in making new mistakes if you're not finished with the old ones.
- For every mistake from the previous year that does not need to be repeated, place a nice red star in front of it. That mistake can now go into your Hall of Blame, which will never have to be repeated again. Of course, you will have some mistakes that, even though they have been well executed, are well worth repeating. And you know which ones they are. Don't you?
- Now look at all of those mistakes needing repeating during the New Year. Prioritized them so you can begin the New Year with a good plan. As you prioritize this list, think of ways in which you can improve on your mistakes over the past year. No satisfaction compares with doing something as good as you can.
Everyone generates mistakes, which is healthy. What is unhealthy is thinking you have not made any mistakes, which is a mistake.
A mistake well executed is a mistake never needing repeated. During the New Year, execute as many mistakes as your conscience will allow.
The Rev. James L. Snyder is an award-winning author whose writings have appeared in more than 80 periodicals, including Guideposts. "In Pursuit of God: The Life of A. W. Tozer," Snyder's first book, won the Reader's Choice Award in 1992 by Christianity Today. Snyder has authored eight books altogether.
Rev. Snyder has a knack for making fun of daily frustrations and increasing the humor aptitude of readers, so they too can discover that life is less stressful when they are laughing. Through his essays, readers will realize that humor and religion belong together and can keep them from taking themselves and others too seriously.
Through 30 years of ministry, he and his wife Martha have been involved in three church-planting projects prior to their current ministry at the Family of God Fellowship in Ocala, Fla. The Snyders have three children and four grandchildren.
He can be contacted at email@example.com. Of www.godspenman.com