By Rebecca Richmond, NCLN Executive Director
I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions. This year I didn’t even bother thinking about them but in the end, the newness of the year and the semester got to me. After spending the break at home with my family, I returned to Toronto and thoroughly reorganized my room, cleaned my pantry, and planned out a few meals and lunches to start the year off right. It’s almost on the subconscious level that the New Year brings the conviction that I need to read more (the classics), sleep more (but not sleep in), eat better (and regularly. i.e. breakfast and lunch), get more work done (i.e. magically create more hours in the day), and the list goes on.
As much as there is comfort in the familiar, our society seems drawn towards fresh starts and using them to commit to doing something good or giving up something bad. The problem we run into is the follow through.
I recently heard a speaker address this in a talk on New Year’s resolutions: many people make good and important decisions but lack the energy to follow through. This resonated with me as a problem that we, as pro-lifers, can encounter. We make a good and important decision – to work to end abortion – and we set short-term goals such as starting a club, hosting events, and having an impact on our campus, but we struggle to accomplish these. Falling short can then demoralize us, depress us, overwhelm us and ultimately impede us from accomplishing anything at all.
We need to have resources to motivate us and to track our progress so that when we are faced with distractions, we can get back on track.
Memories are one such resource. In moments when giving up seems all too attractive, memories can remind me of why I do what I do and why I must continue. Memories of conversations that led to changes of heart and events that impacted our campus can stoke the embers of my heart and reignite the fire. Do you have memories of how passionate you felt after a presentation, conversation, or event? Take a moment to think back to that time.
Imagination and vision can similarly re-energize us. When the present seems unbearable we can escape, for a moment, to the future. What is it that we are working towards anyway? Do you have a picture of that future in your mind? Childish as it sounds, I sometimes imagine my future self talking to colleagues from NCLN in a time when all of these frustrations are blurred by the haze of years gone by.
Future Rebecca: Remember when student unions used to discriminate against pro-life students? It’s hard to believe freedom of expression was not respected on our campuses!
Future Anastasia: You’re telling me! My pro-life club had to sue our student society in order to be treated fairly!
Your fellow club members are another resource. Spend time with them, not just to work on your plans and projects, but also to connect personally. (But this doesn’t take the place of those regular executive meetings!) If you are struggling in certain areas or have an exciting or motivating story or idea, share it with your club members. You are not merely students working on a class project together; you are colleagues fighting for a cause. Emotional support and friendship support your work. I experienced the importance of this as a student leader and continue to on staff with NCLN. Taking a bit of time to come together and discuss how we ourselves are doing – and not just how our work is – has been a powerful motivator for all of us on staff.
On that note, the NCLN staff are also available as a resource. Our organization was established for students by students. While president of uOttawa Students for Life, I benefited from weekly phone calls with Theresa Gilbert, then NCLN’s Executive Director and now president of our board. Our Campus Coordinators are more than happy (delighted, in fact) to chat regularly with you to help you out.
And although being accountable to other people is important (and another reason why weekly exec meetings are so important!), personal accountability is also essential. Take time each night to go over your day. How did you do? In light of how you did, what have you learned and what will you do tomorrow?
We’ve spoken to a couple students who have expressed regret over not accomplishing as much last semester as they had hoped. Learn from this, but remember that last semester was last semester. It’s over. Don’t let this regret paralyze you this semester. A new year is here and presents us with new opportunities. With resolve and good resources, our resolutions can lead us to transform our universities with the pro-life message.