Do you even remember your New Year's resolution?
I'll keep it real: I don't. I'm sure it was something I genuinely wanted to commit to badly, but between work and, you know, life, it just didn't happen.
That's why I won't throw shade at any of you if you happened to similarly fall off. I can't blame ya'll.
Luckily, there's a chance for redemption, and that chance arrived this week.
Today, March 1, is Ash Wednesday. It marks the start of Lent, the 40-day period between now and Easter weekend.
During these 40 days, people give up a certain habit or pleasantry as part of religious tradition. Those people are usually Catholic, which I am not.
But as a protestant Christian who went to a Catholic elementary school – where all students attended Ash Wednesday mass – I know enough about Lent that I feel comfortable observing it.
Plus, I know a good deal when I see one. And let me tell you, Lent is a good deal.
Why? Because observing Lent is a MUCH better way to make a resolution than the New Year.
Here are the reasons why:
1. It's realistic.
When you make a resolution at the beginning of the year, you're assuming a lot about yourself for a long period of time. You're assuming you'll be physically and mentally up for certain tasks, during a period of time that spans multiple seasons.
With Lent, on the other hand, you're making a commitment for just a month and some change. It's a period of time when the light at the end of the tunnel doesn't seem too far away.
Accomplishing a successful Lent is much more within reach.
2. You get to make up for lost time.
With Lent, you get a second chance at the resolution you should've been keeping.
The best part about it? There's no shame in starting over... because you have good reason.
It's Lent! It's a tradition!
No one will begrudge you if you say, "Sorry guys, can't drink, I'm kind of doing this for the Lord."
That's a much more respectable reason to explain to your friends than, "Hey guys, I'm trying that resolution again that you guys saw me miserably fail at keeping."
3. You have extra motivation.
No matter whether you're a super religious person or just not-so-religious, the idea of tying your ambition (the resolution) to a commitment to a higher power (which observing Lent means) is an awfully good motivator.
It's one thing when you give up on yourself, but it's a whole other ball game when you feel like giving up is borderline sacrilegious. That feeling could be the difference between you going back to the gym the next day or staying at home.
4. You can trick yourself.
The beauty about Lent is when you combine the three elements mentioned above, you can sort of trick yourself into accomplishing a lofty goal you really wanted to achieve in the first place.
Things you give up for Lent are often things you might think to do as New Year's resolutions, but you never actually tried to do them for 12 months because it was hard.
With Lent, you just might be in the 40-day period, thinking to yourself, "I can actually do this." Like I said, it's tricking yourself for a good cause.
5. It ends just in time for the good weather.
Of course, if you don't decide to keep abstaining from a certain habit, here's the plus side: Lent ends when spring is just kicking into gear.
So, if you use those 40 days to tone up, you're not too far from being able to show your gains off in the good weather. If you used those 40 days to quit going out, you're not too far from being able to enjoy rooftops bars again.
Lent is amazing. When you combine the timing of it, the length and the opportunity to redeem yourself, it's clear observing Lent is like practicing a way better version of a New Year's resolution.