A new year and a new you. I love the optimism of that statement. I am all about new beginnings and fresh starts. As a matter of fact that is one of the foundations of the Gospel. But all too often my fresh starts finish with dead ends. The excitement of January resolutions fade by February and with it so does my commitment. I’ve tried lots of things to correct this. The latest was simply to not make new year’s resolutions so that I wouldn’t be disappointed when they failed. How about that for glass half-empty thinking!
So how can we embrace a new year and new you commitment in a way that has a chance of succeeding? Beats me…I may not be able to tell you what works, but I can share what hasn’t worked for me.
Bite off more than you can chew. So you want to pray more? Me too. Great thing to tackle in the new year. But it is unlikely that you will make it through if you set 5 hours per day as your goal when you are averaging about 5 minutes per day currently. Goals have to be incremental or else you crater under the weight of unrealistic expectations. It takes time to build up the stamina, just like exercising, with any spiritual discipline. So start small and build up as you go.
Do something on your own. We are much less likely to follow through if we are the only person doing something. So you want to study the Bible? Good call! Now, don’t expect that just by purchasing a new study bible and having a reading plan is going to get you there. Find a group, or one or two others even, who have the same desire and begin the journey together. Mutual encouragement will help sustain you on the weeks life gets crazy and you find yourself lacking study time.
Start something you have little knowledge about. I’ve wanted to do yoga for a few years. Every year I think, “this is the year!” And then I am faced with the typical questions, “what kind of yoga is best for me?”, “where should I go to take it?”, or “will people laugh at me?”. What I need to do is to find someone who is a step farther along in my journey and learn from them. I need a yoga mentor! This is applicable to so many other things too. Finding a spiritual mentor can be one of the most important steps in our faith journey. Someone who is one step further along and willing to share
Give up the first time you don’t follow through. It may take 21 days to make or break a habit, but it only takes 1 time of failure to decide to quit a resolution. So you’ve had a bad day. You can either chalk it up to one bad day or you can give up on the larger dream. No one bats a 1000%. So the quicker we get back on the horse and not beat ourselves up the better chancee have to succeed. How’d you like those three metaphors in one sentence!
A new year and a new you. I’m convinced that this is the year that I not only make some resolutions but keep them. How about you? As you are working through your commitment for 2018, let me encourage you to keep your faith journey in the mix. What commitments for 2018 will you be making in terms of your prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness? These are the things that will make an eternal difference for you and those around you.