What’ll it be? Your New Year’s resolution. Lose weight? Get organized? Spend less? Save more? Enjoy life? Stay healthy? Learn something exciting? Quit smoking? (Quit something?), Fall in love? Get closer to God? Be less stressed? Spend more time with family? This list goes on, and on–and on.
For some, New Year’s resolutions serve as a proclamation of bucket list items or a proposed extreme makeover in an area of one’s life. Most however, seem to resolve to bring about some type of self-improvement in their life, or at the very least–change. Research reflected by the University of Scranton, Journal of Psychology in 2016 suggests a whopping 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions. The same research sadly indicates only 8% of people have successful achievements.
I admit I’ve been one of many who has verbalized a laundry list of good intentions at the outset of a new year, with strong conviction, I might add. Unfortunately, I found the daunting efforts for change were in fierce competition with my many priorities, dooming me to fail just a mere few weeks into a new year. Before I knew it, I was faced once again with resolutions for the following year. I recently came across a sad, but accurate quote:
“I can’t believe it’s been a year since I didn’t become a better person.” -anonymous
Sigh. Have you been there, too?
To make a resolution, or to have a resolve, is to make a firm decision to do or not do something. So, how do we get so tripped up? For me, I often sabotage myself with my own stinkin’ thinkin’. I fall victim to the idea that if I verbalize a resolve often enough, or strong enough, change will come about. Truth is, I can speak well-intended wishes until the cows come home. It will never be enough to create desired change in my life.
To change a behavior or circumstance, I need to change my thinking. I need to become aware of why things aren’t working as I wish them to be, and then, find alternatives to bring about change in the outcome. “Someecards.com” puts out trillions of funny thoughts, such as this one:
“I need to start eating more healthy, but first I need to eat all of the junk food in the house so it’s not there to tempt me anymore.” –Yourecards/Someecards.com
Boom! Another sabotage under the guise of justification. I can relate. In fact, I’m quite passionate about the fact that no chocolate chip cookie should ever be wasted!
Once I develop a critical awareness of my reflexive habits, I can shed light on my destructive behaviors. Only then will I be able to shift my focus from eating all the junk food in sight, to instead, setting out to find a garbage can. I also believe our best success comes from changes we make in our day-to-day efforts.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.” –John C. Maxwell
We are more likely to have success if we shift from wanting to trying.
Let’s face it. Change is uncomfortable. Enduring it will require some self-discipline, which we aren’t born with. Self-discipline is something we acquire. How? It develops in the same way you build a muscle . . . one challenge at a time. Friction is always involved with change. Recognize it. Embrace it. Then you will be able to undergo it.
I plan on doing things differently this year. Will I still have goals? You bet. But this time, they’ll be realistic and attainable. In the process, I plan to cultivate optimism. I plan to cultivate joy, believing my desired actions will flow from how I view and respond to my world. I plan to invent challenges throughout my day to strengthen my ability to believe I can create desired change.
You know what I’m not going to do? I’m not going to beat myself up or quit on my goals at the first sign of a set-back. Life happens. Complications arise. Difficulties ensue. In fact, if I expect an occasional hitch or a misfortunate interruption along the way, I’m more likely to be able to work through it and press onward. There will be new trials, new failures, new victories and new blessings in 2017 . . . and I belive the goodness of God will guard them all.
So, who’s with me?
Helen Keller said it best:
“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” –Helen Keller
Happy New Year!