When I lived in Erie and went to Gannon University until 2011, January was not my favorite month of the year. As great as it is to be back with your college friends and back on campus, January is full of extra transitions: taking down the decorations after the holidays, adjusting from a restful break and an abundance of Hulu binges back to homework, cafeteria food and mentally preparing yourself for the change between your hometown’s snowfall average and Erie’s.
But now, serving as a Catholic Campus Minister at Kean University in Union, N.J., has given me the chance to see January transitions from a different perspective. As my students come back for the spring semester, I see less of the stress and homework on the horizon and more of the opportunity to make positive changes.
Changes to the food you eat or how much workout time you make in your schedule, if your New Year’s resolution was to lose that Freshman (or upperclassman) 15. Changes to how much time you put in at the library, or finally getting that math tutor, if you hope to raise your grades this semester. Or changes to how often you go to church, pray or go to a faith-sharing group on campus.
The idea of a New Year’s resolution seems like one we’ve allowed to become fleeting – we talk about them or do them for a few days, and then move on with our lives. But making a change is more than that – it’s building a habit, making a long-term commitment. Using the opportunity to make positive changes is something that can make this post-holiday, dreary snowstorm time of the year much more exciting, if we let it.
What changes am I going to make this year? I’m sure my bank account would like me to focus more on budgeting – your first fulltime salary after college always feels a lot bigger than it actually is! – and scary adult things like retirement accounts and real estate investments.
And I know I need to pray more about big decisions, like discerning if I want to keep working in ministry for awhile, or if I’ll eventually go back to business and use my marketing degree more. But my top change I hope to make in 2014 is to re-balance my natural workaholic tendencies and make sure I keep in touch with the important people in my life, old friends and new.
Maybe your resolutions are the same as mine, and maybe they’re totally different. That’s something to ponder as you sit through syllabus days and the end of your current Netflix series addiction, before this semester kicks into high gear and you settle into your normal habits again. But in any case, whether it’s a big change or a small one, don’t miss out on the opportunity to make the January transitions something meaningful.