New Year’s Resolutions. For the most part, they seem like an obligatory tradition attempted because…well, everyone else is doing it. It also seems that by the start of spring, nobody is dedicated to their resolutions anymore. I mean, does anyone talk about resolutions past February? We really don’t, do we? But, why not? I think the answer is found in three main areas: Purpose, accountability, and setting attainable goals.
In my humble opinion, we all need to challenge ourselves in three major areas every year. We don’t have to start on New Year’s, but I do feel that throughout the year we need to grow as individuals. To push and challenge ourselves, we need to pick goals in the areas of physical health, mental health, and spiritual health. But, how do help ourselves stick with it? Through purpose, accountability, and setting attainable goals, we can start to see actually results.
Purpose: We all know the drill. Come January 2, the gyms are flooded with new members. Everyone is geared to go. They’ve got their new gym clothes, their best beats on their phone, and they have their goal: They want to lose weight. On the surface this seems like a reasonable goal. My brother, who is a personal trainer, says that if you are just wanting to lose weight, but you don’t really know your motivation, you’ll never stick with it. He says, you have to “find your why.”
“Finding and understanding – and in some cases, admitting – why you want to begin a fitter, healthier, more active lifestyle can be the difference between flaming out after a few months and completely and radically changing your life for the better.” -Michael Ashford
Accountability: Write down your goals. Stick them on the bathroom mirror. Tell someone what you are wanting to accomplish. If nobody knows you’ve made a commitment to do something, it’s so easy to just drop it. But, when we know that somebody else knows…and they could ask us about it…it makes us a lot more likely to stick with something.
Setting Attainable Goals: I’ve seen people who have the worst diets ever, resolve to eat completely clean overnight. They cut out fat, sugar, taste, everything. They go from Whoppers to bland chicken breasts and within two weeks they can’t hold that kind of diet. You have to ease your way into these things. Why? Because you need to see small steps of progress to feel accomplished and because going from couch potato to marathon runner overnight, just ain’t gonna happen. If you haven’t been doing any exercising whatsoever, it’s not smart to set a goal to run a marathon in six months. If you are used to drinking three Cokes a day, it’s unlikely that you’ll stick with cutting them out completely. People so often take an all or nothing approach to physical health.
“Either I can run a Tough Mudder in two months or I’m just not going to do anything.”
“Either I am going to eat completely paleo with no sweets ever or I’m just gonna have no restrictions at all.”
Set small attainable goals. Drink one Coke a day instead of two. If you’ve never exercised before, start off by walking every day and go a little further each time. Each week, assess yourself and then set new goals that are slightly harder.
I’ve heard quite of few people say, “I’m not in school anymore. My learning days are over.” This is sad on so many levels, because there are so many awesome, exciting things to learn and explore. Each year we should challenge our brains. There is so much information out there, but I find that most people are just reading Facebook feeds and Twitter rants. We need to feed our mind with intelligent, thought-provoking information. I suggest two things for this new year: 1. Read one classic novel and 2. Read one book that is non-fiction.
Purpose: It’s important that we use our minds. So often after we graduate, we neglect to “workout” our brains in any fashion and, trust me, they need to be worked out. Our purpose should be to grow in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. It should never be so that we can just “look” smart or impress others with our intellect. God gave us amazing minds and we are meant to use them our whole lives, not just up until the age of graduation.
Accountability: Like before, write out what you are going to do. Tell someone and post it where you will remember. If your challenge is to spend less time on social media, then set a timer for yourself and when it goes off, be done. The timer helps to make your time intentional.
Setting Attainable Goals: We all are busy, however, reading just two books a year is not out of the question. Why classics? Because they stretch our minds. They are full of symbolism and life lessons. Read to enjoy the story. Read because it will offer something to your life. I will warn you, if you haven’t read a classic book in awhile, it will be difficult. The writing is different, the way language is used is different, but that’s what makes it so good for our minds.
If you are wanting to lessen social media time, set a timer. You don’t have to give it up altogether, just be intentional.
God is not someone that you can just learn about in Sunday school and then never seek Him again. Our whole lives are a journey to seek and know Him. God is infinite and to think that we can ever know all about Him is ridiculous. The deeper you go into your relationship with God, the more is opened to you and the more exciting your relationship with Him becomes. We need to be going to church, reading books on the faith, reading the Bible, and finding ways to place God at the center of our lives.
Purpose: For years, I would resolve to read the Bible straight through in one year. I would start out fine, make it to the book of Numbers and that was about it. See, my motivation was all wrong. I just wanted to read the Bible straight through so that I could say I read the Bible straight through. Pride was my driving force. Once I realized that I really wanted to know and understand God through his Word everything changed for me. Now, I select one book from the Bible and just read it slowly with my family. After each chapter, we talk about what we’ve learned, what stands out, and what makes no sense. It takes a long time to do it this way, but I enjoy it so much more and I’m really soaking it up. My motivation and method changed, which helped me to get through so much more.
Accountability: Tell someone, write it down, post it. I found that using our family prayer time each night to read one chapter of a book in the Bible helps keep me on track. It’s a set aside time of day and my family is there to hold me accountable. I have also found that telling a child what you are doing provides you with a great accountability partner. They love to remind you and they will ask you in their innocent way if you are still doing it. Children like to have the responsibility of reminding and they like seeing their parents accomplish and stick with something.
Setting Attainable Goals: Whatever your goal is, don’t get carried away. Make them doable. It’s very difficult for a mother of several children to read the Bible straight through, get weekly time in adoration, volunteer at a charity, and have one hour prayer sessions. These goals just aren’t feasible. But, picking one book from the Bible to dive into, maybe getting one hour a month in adoration, and 15 minutes in the morning for prayer time is more reasonable.
If You Are Quitting Something
If you are quitting something such as smoking, alcohol, pornography, or gambling, your goals are going to look different. But, I would like to offer some pieces of advice.
- Enlist help. Don’t do it alone.
- Don’t beat yourself up, if you slip up. Just get back to it. “Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it.”
- Pray for strength.
- Replace the bad, with good. If you feel tempted to relapse, have a plan of things you can do to replace that bad habit with a good habit. If you feel tempted to drink, go for a walk. If you feel tempted to gamble, volunteer at a charity. If you feel tempted to smoke, call a friend or family member. If you feel tempted to look at porn, get out of the house, leave your phone behind, and go somewhere to pray.
I wish you all the best in your goals. Remember, if everyday isn’t perfect, just try again. You don’t have to wait a whole other year to start over. Everyday you are alive is a day to start again. I pray 2018 is an adventurous, joyful, Christ-filled year full of challenges that help you grow for the better.