Making and Breaking Those Dreaded New Year's Resolutions

As we approach the beginning of a new year, there is something inside of us that awakens to say, "Hey, don't you think it's time to make some changes?" And so many of us will sit down and make a list of goals or resolutions that we are determined to keep (unlike every previous year where we make it to the third week of January at best - and I speak from experience!). So should we just throw out this urge to come up with a list of new year's resolutions? Not at all. But I do think we should approach the process with some good old common sense. So ... here is PJ's common sense approach to making resolutions that stick. 

1. Keep your list short. I suggest you take stock of how your doing by examining each of five major areas of life: physical, intellectual, spiritual, financial, relational. After a good long (and HONEST) look in your mirror, identify one glaring need for improvement in each of these five areas. So ... when you draw up your resolutions, you will have no more than five. 

2. Write out a resolution for each of those "glaring needs" you identified in step one. The resolution should be written in the format of a SMART goal: specific, measurable, attainable, results-based, and time-specific. For example, if you want to set a SMART goal to read a portion of the Bible every day, you won't make reading 20 chapters a day a part of your goal, for that is not attainable. Rather, your SMART resolution could be stated as: I resolve to read one chapter of the Bible each day of the new year. This resolution fits the attributes of a SMART goal. 

3. Once you have your list of five resolutions, select one or two to begin working on right away (and reserve the rest for a "late start"). I suggest this because when we try to make changes, we can get overwhelmed when we "bite off more than we can chew." Once you get the first couple resolutions transformed into good solid habits (and yes, habits can be good!), then you can pick another resolution to begin working on. Now you may have heard that it takes the average person 21 days to form a new habit, but this is not really the case. In reality, it probably will take you a good two months or more to establish a new habit. All this to say, stay the course! 

4. Once you have chosen your one or two resolutions, tell a trusted friend. Ask them to check with you from time to time as to how you are doing. Give them permission to hold you accountable. This will help you immensely to stay with your resolution(s) - Proverbs 27:17; Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. 

5. Expect to fail. Why? Because the default setting of our fallen humanity (which still dogs us!) and the ongoing evil work of the Enemy (who will do his best to derail us) and the godless world system in which we work and play (which is under the control of the Evil One) will all work together to keep us from achieving our goals. So there will be that day (or those days) when we will not keep our resolution(s). When that happens to you, pick yourself off the ground and begin anew the next day. In other words, don't quit but rather renew your commitment to forge ahead! Do this often enough, and you will be on your way to real change in your life. 

6. Lastly, pray (and this really is of first importance). Ask God to help you in this process. His Spirit is with you and ready to grant you the grace, wisdom and power to grow forward in 2015! 

Thanks for stopping by . . . 
pj 

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