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New Year: Turning Resolutions Into Solutions

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By ELM Program Director Olivia LaFlamme

Resolution; a firm decision to do, or not to do, something.

The first thing we ask people when the new year arrives is “what are your new year resolutions?”

We expect lists of long promised changes and sacrificing of indulgences or vices.  We all seem to know that the newness of the year cycle starting over again means that change is in the air in a way that we can harness to make our lives better. We feel emboldened to be, do or say that thing that we haven’t had the capacity for in the years past.

A resolution is a firm decision; it is a stake in the ground and a line in the sand. But how many of us know that what starts off all hopeful and confident on January 1st, so quickly slips through our fingers and is forgotten; tucked away until next year. We all do that, right? And here’s the thing, that loss of steam around that list of firm decisions to do, or not to do, something makes perfect sense because it is missing something crucial. That list of declarations can never be fulfilled without a plan. What if, instead of just resolutions this year, we approach the newness, this heightened possibility of making positive change, with solutions on top.

Solution; a means of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation.

Every day we are all coming up with solutions to the most mundane problems. 

Problem: I’m hungry.

Solution: Eat. 

That’s one way to put it, but it’s a little oversimplified. In order to eat, you had to find out what you had available (at your desk, in your kitchen, in your bag, etc.), then you had to choose something, then you may even have had to prepare the food (you know how many steps that could involve!) before you could actually just “eat”. The solution isn’t “eat”, it’s actually all those steps that lead up to you performing the act of eating. We do this constantly; following a series of actions that we know will lead  to our desired result. Somewhere in our minds we just know that is how things work. In order for something to happen, there we will be a bunch of other things that happen to make that a reality; let’s call that a plan.

Here’s the thing, “resolution” and “solution” have the same root word; “solve”. Both are seeking to find the answer to a question. What separates the two is simply the modus operandi. Resolutions are statements of intention (“I won’t”/“I will”). Solutions are the means, the way that you will make something happen; a plan. Setting an intention to leave something in 2018 and take something else into 2019 is purposeful and is productive. But let’s take it one step further and ensure our success just a little bit more this time. Let’s add a plan of action. How are you going to do it? Who do you need to talk to that can hold you accountable? What would it look like if you were able to do this thing? What do you need today to make that possible tomorrow?

Every new year promises change. Let’s encourage each other to get in on that opportunity to heal, grow, and expand our horizons in 2019 with intentions and plans. 

Happy New Year everyone!


Olivia LaFlamme (they/them/theirs) is the Program Director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Olivia  is a Black queer feminist. They have an M.A. in Women and Gender Studies with an emphasis on queer theory and a B.A. in Comparative Women’s Studies with a concentration in Social Justice. Olivia is a budding filmmaker (focused in documentary) and their thesis project, entitled “Spirits Speak,” is an experimental documentary exploring queer temporality as it is demonstrated through ancestral/lineage projects (spiritual, archival and artistic). They have a background in organizing, administration in the university, and teaching. Raised in the Assemblies of God Christian church, they have since cobbled together several religious traditions that inform their own spiritual identity. Olivia views faith in the Supernatural as crucial to their ability to move through this world that would seek to destroy their gender non-conforming, Black and queer body. They have an amazing and supportive partner, three younger siblings, and loving parents.

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