Exercise more. Check. Start every day with joyful gratitude. Check. Focus my energies using a well prioritized to-do list. Check. Well, it’s about that time in January when I realize that the several New Year’s resolutions that I made at the stroke of midnight on Jan 1, 2016 were made with wonderful intention but my resolve to living up to them is a bit short at the moment.
Lots of people make New Year’s resolutions. It just seems like a great time to start again. With the turn of a calendar we expect things to be different somehow. But U2 sang back in 1983 that “nothing changes on New Year’s day.” And so it is.
However, there are some things that we can do to make things different in 2016. I have not given up on my New Year’s resolutions. I know there are some better days ahead if I can just make a few changes. Here’s what I am thinking:
1. Be realistic but bold
Some people prefer big changes that literally shock their system into a new reality. Others respond better to small incremental changes over time. Either way the goal is simply to make a change for the better realizing that bold changes will take effort with a good measure of perseverance.
A journey realistically begins with a single step keeping the destination in mind. The journey could be a walk around the block or the completion of the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail. Bold changes create a sense of adventure.
2. Write it down
It sounds simple but writing something down makes it more real. Printing it in large font and posting it on the wall of your office gives it life. Reading it aloud every morning makes it a habit. Changing your login password to “praymore” could open up a whole new dimension of communion with God.
Honestly, if a person is unwilling to make the effort to write down their intended changes, they probably won’t be able to sustain the effort to reach their new goals and objectives.
3. Get some accountability
Going public with your intentions moves them from remaining mere plans to creating the need for some resourceful strategies. Talking to friends and family members provides either a bit of skepticism about your desire to make some positive changes or it could possibly result in a much needed source of encouragement over time.
Talking to others who have already achieved what you are seeking makes your goals less intimidating. Their success increases your self-efficacy and their inspiration enhances your enthusiasm. Request their help and ask them to hold you accountable for making steady progress.
4. Assessment and Modification
Changing your behavior takes the mind and heart of a long distance runner. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Regular assessment is essential in order to evaluate where there is progress and where there is a need for more focused effort. Replacing poor habits while building good habits requires ongoing evaluation.
Don’t be locked into forcing a change that is no longer in your best interests. The equation of life must be balanced on a regular basis. What seemed important a while ago may no longer be a priority.
Start over or just quit?
Personally, I am starting over except this time I am calling my New Year’s resolutions by a different name. Today I am launching my 2016 Personal Development Program. I have some realistic but bold goals, I have my goals posted over my computer work station, I have an accountability team, and I have marked my calendar with monthly assessment dates.
I am not alone in my 2016 journey which is becoming a bit of an adventure. I am venturing into some unexplored territory but I remember the story of Joshua and the crossing of the Jordan River. There must have been some legitimate concerns on the part of the Israelites. There were a lot of unknowns.
But orders were given to the people that when they saw the ark of the covenant start to move they should follow it. Joshua 3:4 (NIV) declares “you will know which way to go since you have never been this way before.” I surely don’t know what awaits me during 2016. It is all new and based on the past I suppose there are some real challenges ahead. But I know that God’ presence precedes me and that’s good enough for me. I have a life of eternal purpose to live and enjoy a day at a time.