Resolve to Lean into Your Values

December 29, 2023Laurel Fisher

It is time again for New Year’s resolutions - that annual promise that THIS year will be YOUR year. “Out with the old and in with the new! This year I will get organized/learn a new skill/exercise more/travel more.” You get the idea.

While motivation is high in January, many of these resolutions tend to fall by the wayside within months. Last year, Time Magazine reported that, “by some estimates, as many as 80% of people fail to keep their New Year's resolutions by February. Only 8% of people stick with them the entire year.” These are not great odds, and yet, every year we resolve to do better, or be more, or stop doing something.

I think it is time for a reset. Let’s forget about resolutions. Let’s find a better, more Jewish way to approach this time of year. Rather than creating personal (physical) goals, why not chose one or two core (spiritual) values to live by? Let’s take the time to get clear about our values and the behaviors that support them and by focusing on these values, you can look both inward AND outward.

The act of identifying your values has many positive rewards. In her book, The Upside of Stress, Stanford professor Kelly McGonigal writes, “It turns out that writing about your values is one of the most effective psychological interventions ever studied. In the short term, writing about personal values makes people feel more powerful, in control, proud, and strong. It also makes them feel more loving, connected, and empathetic toward others. It increases pain tolerance, enhances self-control, and reduces unhelpful rumination after a stressful experience.”

Now THAT is a reason to be motivated!

Our first step will be to choose our values. What values drive you when life is hard, and you need a life raft? Think about words that describe your most important ideals and principles. You need to be thoughtful and decisive and limit yourself to just two. What values do you personally live by? What does each value look like? How do you make your values visible to others?


  • Values are simple words that describe what you deeply believe.
  • Values explain what you live by or what you want to live by.
  • Values describe who you are and are guides for your big decisions.
  • Values are stronger than thoughts or opinions. They stir the heart.
  • Values are ideals of you at your best.
  • Values are the inner-based principles that will fuel the direction of your life.
  • Values guide how you deal with others.


I also recommend putting the Hebrew words to your value to ground it in your Judaism. Consider:

  • Chesed - Kindness
  • Kavod - Respect
  • B’tzelem Elohim – We are all created in the image of G-d
  • Savlanut – Patience
  • Emet – Truth
  • Rachamim – Compassion
  • Hakhnasat Orchim – Welcoming Guests
  • Shem Tov – a Good Name
  • Shalom – Peace
  • Sayver Panim Yafot – Greeting everyone with a pleasant face
  • Anavah – Humility
  • Kehillah – Community
  • Tikkun Olam – Repairing the World

Judaism looks at the big picture and requires action. Once you have your two values, it is time to get to work. As Brené Brown writes, “You have to take your values and walk them out. Leaning into our values means that we do more than profess our values, we practice them.”

Cheers to new beginnings. We’d love to hear what values you choose and how living those values has made a change in your life.




Please check out these additional resources for value lists:

  • The Rosenfeld Community of Practice from the University of Miami offers digital resources for Jewish Educators and offers this list.
  • While not specifically Jewish, Brené Brown includes an extensive list of values in her book, "Dare to Lead."

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Why WRJ was so Instrumental for My Jewish Self

In my local Sisterhood, one of my volunteer roles was that of Spirituality Chair. This meant that once a year, on Sisterhood Sabbath, the liturgy, bimah participants, and musical offerings were created by Sisterhood with the guidance of our clergy. There was cutting and pasting of the Sabbath prayers to create the evening’s booklet and original, heartfelt prayers authored just for this occasion by our members. We sang as a Sisterhood choir, and many of us participated in both the traditional liturgy and special readings highlighting the chesed, the acts of kindness that Sisterhood put forth during the cycle of our year. Of all the roles I ever encountered as a Sisterhood volunteer, this one was carving out my future as a spiritual leader.