As January 1 rolls around, we begin the process of reinventing ourselves what habits to get rid of or pick up as new. Statistics show that 44 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. However, the most common problem is that we come up with an extensive list and then immediately fail. How do you tackle everything at once? What is on your list: Weight, smoking, alcohol, attending church more often, being kind to your neighbors? It’s not reasonable to expect that just creating the list is going to ensure that you follow through.
After years of personal research, let’s start with the basics. Pick just one resolution and focus on that. It’s much easier to make incremental changes (baby steps, if you will), and make another change after a month. And if it makes you feel better, start the new year with a calendar you’ve populated – what changes you commit to for each of the 12 months. That way, if your goal is losing 40 pounds and running a marathon, lose the weight starting in January and start walking every day. Save the marathon until the end of 2018.
Start 2018 with what’s most important to you. What will make you happier? Be sure that it’s not an abstract thought (i.e. be more optimistic). Come up with a resolution that is easy to measure. Write it down. Record it on your daily calendar. Post it on your bathroom mirror. Tell your spouse/friends. If you fail one day, start back up the next. And speaking of starting, start small. If the goal is 40 pounds, make it two pounds in January. As your momentum builds and your confidence increases, those numbers will increase. If exercise is your goal, don’t expect you’ll be at the gym first thing before work every day. How about committing to a 10-minute walk every day? 1 Timothy 4:8 instructs us to keep exercise in perspective: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
Do you need help with ideas? How about being more mindful (put your smartphone down and be aware). Love your enemy. Give more to your church or your local charity. Commit to prayer each day (there are some good smartphone biblical or prayer apps that can help you with that). And lastly, get outside. Explore the world around you. If you are part of a group or organization, maybe consider a retreat at Casey. We offer a fantastic venue, complete with lodging, meals, and meeting spaces for groups of all sizes. Best of all, we have a beach, forest, and wide-open spaces for you and your group to get outside and practice serenity and mindfulness. Connect, learn, and discover at Casey.