Five Challenges for Catholics in 2020

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Thomas Tighe, Benedictine College

“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” – G.K. Chesterton.

New Year Resolutions– the dramatic promises we make to others and ourselves that we will become a better people  tomorrow. It’s just a fancy term for procrastination and poor-planning. Imagine all the things you want to do in 2020. Now it’s the holidays, so let’s say you’re at a party and you’re telling everyone your excitement for the new year and all the things you want to do, including your New Year’s Resolution. Then it’s time for the ball to drop. You start to count down. “3… 2… 1… Happy New Year!” It’s a new day, and a fresh start to become someone better than who you were last year. Pretty soon you’re back at school or work and you’re going through your daily routine. You work on that New Year’s Resolution periodically, but not consistently. Before you know it, New Year’s Eve of 2021 is around and you reflect on the past 364 days. All those things you hoped for on January 1st didn’t happen. So, then you really promise with another New Year’s Resolution to get them done in 2021… and 2022… and 2023. New Year’s Resolutions are expected to be these quick fixes for large dreams.

Now, I know most people probably see that these resolutions are a joke given their lack of results, but the tradition itself says a lot about our modern culture. People want change, but with as little effort as possible. If you want to become better, you have to embrace failure. You have to carry the burden and the real cost of wanting your dreams. Social media makes fame, fortune, or image look easy. What it doesn’t show you is all the blood, sweat, and tears that those people had to shed to get where they are. It takes time– sometimes much longer than a year. If you really are passionate about doing what you want in 2020, here are five challenges for you to help you better reach your dreams in the new year.

1. Write down your goals.

An old mentor would always ask me, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Most resolutions fail on arrival because they are either too vague or lack the steps to achieve that goal. The task then becomes overwhelming. If you break it down into parts, each step is much easier to do. If your objective is to clean your room, start by just making your bed every morning. If you do nothing else, at least your room will be that much cleaner. However, a lot of this only works if you actually write down your goals. Don’t think you can just remember all of them in your head. (Trust me, I’ve tried). Sometimes the act of writing your goal not only anchors what needs to get done down on paper, but once it is complete, you get the satisfaction of crossing it off your list. 

2. Get a journal (and use it!)

What better way to write your goals than in a journal? This isn’t your sister’s ‘Dear diary,’ but it is important to reflect each day on what you did, what you can improve on, and what to do the next day. Think of daily entries like mini-resolutions that you make at the end (or beginning) of the day; It also helps to get your thoughts out on paper. When I started journaling, if there was something that was bothering me or I reached a milestone, I would write it down in my journal. Now, I can look back and see all of the progress I’ve made throughout these past couple months.

3. Manage Stress

Whether you are working on your passion or just trying to finish mundane tasks of the week, you will always encounter stress. One of my biggest struggles is properly relieving myself of that stress. If I am not careful, I might over-stress and subsequently over indulge in something pleasurable, but addicting i.e. YouTube, sweets, or sleep. To combat this, I use an acronym know as HALT, which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. I evaluate myself at least once a day to see if I currently fall under any of those categories. If I am hungry, I cook myself a healthy meal. If I am angry, I go running. It really helps just to blow off steam. If I am lonely, I phone a friend and we go do something fun. If I am tired, I either take a power nap or get at least 7 1/2 hours of sleep. Not all of these may be feasible for you to do, but by being aware of your current stress level, you can decide whether to do hard work, or easy work. 

4. Talk About Your Successes and Struggles

What’s the point in accomplishing your dreams if you can’t share them with others? Talk to your friends about what you’re working on. Tell them about this crazy article that you found online. If you start talking more and more about your passions, you develop a personality, and people notice it in a good way. I always find it exciting to hear about one of my friends talk about Star Wars or how my girlfriend tells me about all her sticker designs. If you have close friends or family, talk to them about some of the struggles behind what you’re working on as well. Believe me. If you are going through a problem in your head and you say it out loud, it will probably sound a lot simpler and you might even get some advice on how to solve it.

5. I Want You to Fail

Now before you close out of this webpage, let me explain. If any of you are familiar with the story of Thomas Edison, it took him 10,000 tests before he invented the light bulb. When he was asked his failures, he said, “I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” As a society, we too often judge people based on their success, but we forget the fact that most of the learning comes from failure. We stop trying to succeed because we don’t believe that failure is part of that process. Well, I challenge you to find many opportunities that you will fail at and do them… again… and again… ‘til you start succeeding. Want to improve your writing? Write garbage everyday till you get something good. Want to play the piano? Play music terribly ‘til you can hear that melody (Hey! A rhyme). 

I don’t expect you to be able to do all these things right away and that’s okay because remember: failure is part of the process. What I do expect of you is to choose everyday to fail and learn so that you may eventually win and keep on winning. So, before the digits on your calendar change, start your resolution today and jump into 2020 guns blazing.

Edited by Noein

2 Responses

  1. Good Morning and Happy New Year William. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, if you are home for the break, please stop by and say hello. I read the article on Five Challenges for 2020 by Thomas Tighe. I would love to cover these in an interview with him. Would you be able to connect us?

    Also, keep me in mind if you have anything you would like to promote from Clarifying Catholicism.

    God bless you,


  2. Thomas, thank you for an excellent article that is full of good suggestions on how to make 2020 everyone’s best year yet!

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